Kip Kniskern over at the LiveSide blog spotted a Microsoft job advert that appears to give some insight into a cloud computing platform under development at Redmond that could compete with Google's just released App Engine or Amazon's suite of web services. The utility computing platform, codenamed "Red Dog" according to the job ad, is under development at Microsoft's Cloud Infrastructure Services (CIS) team and aims to see a version one release within the "coming year." What little info is provided by the job posting is rather obscure, but there are a few juicy tidbits to be had.

According to the ad, the platform is "an efficient, virtualized" environment that is "fully automated" and has a "set of highly scalable storage services." Which translated, likely means a utility computing platform that handles scaling and server management for you and on which you only pay for the storage you need. That means it would be comparable to something like App Engine or Mosso (our coverage).

Some wondered after Google's App Engine announcement Monday evening when Microsoft would offer a competing cloud computing platform. The biggest tip off from the job advertisement that Red Dog is it, is that the CIS team wants the platform to "lead the marketplace as the best platform for rapid development, deployment, and maintenance of internet services and applications." Microsoft will supposedly roll out a first version of Red Dog to "external customers" (defined later as "ISV customers who are ... early adopters") this year.

As Kniskern points out, not much is known about Red Dog at this point, but indications seem to point to some sort of platform as a service offering from Microsoft dropping within the next year.

Note: No, that's not a real Red Dog logo. It's just Clifford The Big Red Dog with a tiny Windows Live logo dangling from his collar...