Microsoft says, 'Live with us in forests (and clouds) of Azure'

Microsoft says, 'Live with us in forests (and clouds) of Azure'

Summary: New features and perks are here for Microsoft's cloud-based services. The changes they've made to Azure won't make you blue.


There's lots of stuff going on at TechEd New Orleans this year and all of it without me, unfortunately. One of the more exciting announcements coming out of that conference is Microsoft's expanded Azure services portfolio that are all cloud related. Microsoft has spent the past few years gearing up for its new cloud offerings, including services such as Office365,, and its new flagship operating system Windows 2012 touted as part of its overall "Cloud OS vision."

 Though Microsoft seems like a late comer to the cloud services arena, they really are not. I used their Virtual PC product almost ten years ago to create mini-clouds. They knew early on that virtualization, commodity computing, and cloud were the future. The reason that they seem late to the table is that they spent their time perfecting the platform and correcting the mistakes made by others in the field.

It's a mistake if you ever sell Microsoft short. That's why its stock is on the rise in a major way, while competitor stocks are slipping.

The following is a summary of the announcement made June 3 at TechEd.

"On June 3, at the TechEd North America event in New Orleans, Microsoft highlighted the new portfolio of services that will be offered for cloud computing. The Windows Azure services portfolio will include a significant update to our server line-up (Windows Server, System Center, SQL Server) and new tools (Visual Studio) all built for the cloud. Additionally on May 22, Microsoft CEO, Steve Ballmer announced Microsoft will invest hundreds of millions of dollars to expand Windows Azure in China, Australia and Japan. Microsoft is excited to be one of the first multinational organizations to make public cloud services available in China, and on June 6 customers there can sign up for a free trial."

Additionally, Microsoft has lowered its pricing on Azure services for developers.

"The choice is now yours on how you use your Windows Azure credits for development and test - including Virtual Machines (VMs), Web Sites, Cloud Services, Mobile Services, Storage, SQL Database, Content Delivery Network, HDInsight, Media Services, and many more. As a Visual Studio Ultimate with MSDN subscriber, you’ll receive a $200 USD Windows Azure credit the first month you use your Windows Azure MSDN benefit, then $150 USD per month for subsequent months.

With your Windows Azure MSDN benefit you’ll also get access to preconfigured virtual machines images with MSDN subscription software, such as SQL Server and BizTalk Server. Alternatively, upload your own virtual machine with your MSDN software."

Microsoft has enabled its customers and its developers to fully embrace the cloud and cloud services with these announcements. It will be interesting to follow the developments that branch out from these changes and new offerings. Especially interesting is their preconfigured virtual machines with the Windows Azure MSDN benefit. By providing companies and developers with systems ready to run SQL Server, BizTalk Server, and others, they've reduced development time and frustration significantly.

So tell me, how do you use Azure? Have you taken advantage of Microsoft's cloud offerings? Will these new changes and benefits encourage you to take a closer look? Talk back and let me know.

Topics: Microsoft, Cloud, Software Development


Kenneth 'Ken' Hess is a full-time Windows and Linux system administrator with 20 years of experience with Mac, Linux, UNIX, and Windows systems in large multi-data center environments.

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  • What is the cloud SPECIFICALLY?

    I have been using hosted IIS, SQL Server, MSMQ, Remote Desktop, Exchange, etc. long before the marketing term "cloud" started getting thrown out there... all on INTERNET Servers ... so if the cloud isn't any of these things then what SPECIFICALLY is "cloud"?
    • @ggibson1

      Cloud is more than hosted offerings. Cloud means redundance. It means unbreakability. It means 100 percent availability. It means using commodity hardware to build the cloud infrastructure. It can, and often does, include hosted services such as you're describing but it can also mean private (your own data center) cloud infrastructure and self-hosted solutions.
      Think of cloud with the following illustration that makes absolutely no sense at all as an illustration.
      When you drive your car, you're only driving one car. When it breaks, you don't drive. That's a 100 percent fail or outage. You won't drive again until it's fixed.
      If you drove a Cloud car, that car would actually be an amalgam of cars and you could never experience a breakdown. The steering wheel, while in your hands, actually exists as a group of steering wheels very far away from you. The same goes for each wheel, each seat, each engine part and so on. Your car would be incredibly cheap to operate too because everyone would be driving a similar cloud car.
      Whereas, if you drive a hosted car, your car might fail but the replacement car would be there alongside you to take over as your primary vehicle until the primary vehicle comes back online.
      • On the right track but...

        Cloud really doesn't mean unbreakability. In fact failure is an expected mode. The philosophy though is moving from trying to minimize mean time between failures to focusing on improving mean time to recovery. It's as important or more important to to plan for these failure modes in building cloud apps because, while you should expect nodes to go down and others to pick up the load, you need to handle the transient failures so that the user experience doesn't suffer.
        • @Badgeroo

          Actually, it does mean unbreakable but most people don't say it that way. Most say, business continuity, reliability, geographic diversity, etc. That's one of the primary features of the cloud is that your systems and services are always on and always available. The way that you have unbreakability is that you have built-in fault tolerance.
          Unbreakability isn't so unusual. How many data centers boast 99.999%+ uptime for their critical systems? Failure is never an expected mode in any computing environment. That's why your systems are built with redundant power supplies, RAID storage, redundant NICs, and early warning system monitoring.
      • That's a brilliant analogy!

        Metaphysical, and yet easy to understand. Loved it!
  • Microsoft says, 'Live with us in forests (and clouds) of Azure'

    And we'll make sure all the Malware, Trogans, Root kits and Viruses have a clear unobstrucered path to all you docs......what a deal that would be
    Over and Out
    • And since even you are smart enough to know what you said was BS

      The question remains - why did you say it?

      I guess you think what you say makes you sound all grown up.

      Think again. :)
      William Farrel
      • Your troll post invites the question...

        Are YOU smart enough to know that what you write is BS?

        If so, that is a very sad condition. If not, then I just feel sorry for you.
    • errrr

      Grow up.
  • And, though I didn't mention it...

    I hope everyone understands the title refers to The Doors song, "Texas Radio and the Big Beat."
  • The next line of that song alsi holds true:

    "Out here in the perimeter there are no stars..." because when there are clouds, you can't see the stars!
    • And....

      Not stoned either!