[caption id="attachment_1093" align="aligncenter" width="618" caption="Microsoft hopes its offerings can steamroll other competitors in the cloud space."] [/caption] Is Microsoft planning to launch a rival capable of battling toe-to-toe with Amazon’s EC2 cloud? That was the hot rumor late last week, when GigOm first reported that Microsoft was indeed readying to debut an Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) platform in conjunction with a June 7 event in San Francisco. That report suggested Microsoft was racing to beat a similar Google offering to market. Other publications quickly picked up on GigaOm’s report, with Wired noting in a rather snarky way that Microsoft’s Azure already operates as a cloud-based infrastructure and development platform, with the customer emphasis on developers looking to create their own apps. But according to GigaOm, Microsoft is sweeting this new offering with the ability to rent Linux servers by the hour, which could increase the appeal to more developers. Whether or not Microsoft (and Google) debut new platforms, the rumor mill hints at the enormous pressures faced by any vendor seeking to compete with Amazon, which has transformed itself over a considerable period of time into a go-to company for developers and organizations looking for cloud services. “Before [Amazon Web Services], businesses would take on the massive capital investment of building their own infrastructure or contract with a vendor for a fixed amount of data center capacity that they might or might not use,” Werner Vogels, Amazon CTO and architect of its cloud project, told Business Insider in a May 21 interview. “Businesses spent time and money managing their own data center or a co-location facility, which meant time not spent on growing their actual business or differentiating their offering for customers.” While Amazon had something of a head start in the space—it launched Amazon Web Services in summer 2002—other companies have scrambled to catch up. For the past few years, for example, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has loudly proclaimed that his company is “all in” with regard to the cloud, a statement backed up by the release of not only developer-centric platforms such as Azure, but also more consumer-centric ones along the lines of Office 365. A variety of other vendors are also competing with Amazon in various ways for a slice of the cloud pie, including server vendors such as IBM and Dell; hosting companies and telecommunication providers looking to buy their way into the cloud-provider space; and startups that want to become the next big service.