Los Angeles, CA – Today at the Microsoft Professional Developers Conference, Federal CIO Vivek Kundra surprised attendees by appearing via videoconference and teaming up with Ray Ozzie, Microsoft’s Chief Software Architect, to showcase several new features of Azure,the company’s cloud computing services platform.
These new Azure features include an open catalogue and data marketplace, codenamed DALLAS, which offer “data as a service” to users of the public cloud. Datasets currently available through DALLAS are a mix of those from the public and private sector, including data from the Associated Press, Citysearch, ESRI, NAVTEQ, DATA.gov, infoUSA, NASA, National Geographic, the UN, and more.
This would seem to strategically position Microsoft as a cloud provider for the public sector.
Kundra also announced NASA’s “Pathfinder Innovation Challenge,” which allows for the creation of tools underlying Mars exploration in order to promote STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education, something I am passionate about, given my background as a scientist. This new challenge calls for software developers of all levels of proficiency to create tools that provide simplified access to, and analysis of, hundreds of thousands of Mars images for online, classroom, and even Mars mission team use.
As seen in the recent Google-Microsoft-Yahoo event titled “Random Hacks of Kindness,” a tremendous amount can be accomplished by developers working within loosely joined social networks built around a passionate interest. This is entirely in the spirit of Government 2.0, and of the inaugural Government 2.0 Camp that some of us held in Washington, DC last spring.