Facebook continues to strengthen The Platform

Back in July I wrote about Microsoft’s so-called Cloud OS. There hasn’t been any Microsoft-specific news since then (that I’ve come across anyway) but more and more companies seem to be gearing up to offer cloud infrastructure services. Take Nirvanix for instance, an Amazon S3 competitor that launched earlier this month with some impressive features.

And today, the blogosphere is buzzing about Facebook potentially getting into the cloud services game (some might argue that they already are). Rev2 reports that Facebook is preparing to offer data storage services:

At this stage it seems unclear as to what the precise data storage offering from Facebook is going to be. The Developer wiki indicates that the new service is in Beta, however, there are no indications around more specific details such as space limitations. Costs are also not revealed so one could assume that the data storage offered may be free for a while whilst the service is still in Beta.

AllFacebook has some interesting discussion on the topic, and Read/WriteWeb notes that the service is somewhat in line with Facebook’s earlier acquisition of Parakey.

This is pretty intriguing news on it’s own, but it gets better. At the TechCrunch40 conference today, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that the company is launching a venture fund called fbFund:

The size of the fund will be $10 million with anywhere between $25 to $250 thousand in grants available for each selected startup dedicated to developing Facebook applications. Founders Fund and Accel will get the right of first refusal for the first round of financing of any company in the fund.

Facebook created The Platform, and everyone went crazy. Anyone could develop an application that would run on The Platform, as long as they invested their own infrastructure, time, and money. Today Facebook took steps to eliminate two of those hurdles. Pretty soon, all you’ll need to invest is time.

I don’t think it’s wise to base your entire business around a Facebook application, but people will do it, and quite a few people will probably make money from it. The really good applications may even be able to transcend Facebook’s walled garden.

Looks like The Platform is just getting started.

Read: Rev2

Look out Amazon: Here comes Microsoft's Cloud OS

Post ImageIf you’ve been following the news about Windows Live Core, also referred to as “Cloud OS”, then today’s article at News.com probably is nothing new. Still, it’s a good overview of what is known thus far:

In addition to making available its existing services, such as mail and instant messaging, Microsoft also will create core infrastructure services, such as storage and alerts, that developers can build on top of. It’s a set of capabilities that have been referred to as a “Cloud OS,” though it’s not a term Microsoft likes to use publicly.

It’s about time.

Just as Windows handles memory management, storage, and other “fundamentals” as Microsoft likes to call them, for your computer, Cloud OS would handle the fundamentals for distributed web apps. Developers can spend less time worrying about how the application will run, and more time building out what the application should do. That’s a win-win for everyone.

The most visible company doing this today is Amazon.com with their web services. Services like S3 for storage and EC2 for computing power are tremendously valuable for developers. As I’ve said before, S3 made a big difference for Podcast Spot, and we’d like to use more services if only they existed.

I know there’s going to be pushback, simply because it’s Microsoft, but I am happy to finally see more news on Cloud OS. I can’t wait until the services are available – competition will explode.

It’s a buzzword, and not a very meaningful one at that, but I think this guy has it right:

IMHO, the cloud is the true Web 3.0 – the distributed, ubiquitous web.

Let the Web 3.0 wars being! Microsoft, Google, Amazon, maybe even Yahoo, all competing to provide the best cloud infrastructure for developers to build amazing applications and experiences on top of.

Read: News.com