Microsoft Windows Azure and SQL Azure

Microsoft's Windows Azure and SQL Azure address part of organizations requirements for an open, standards based platform that can support local, private and public clouds.
Written by Dan Kusnetzky, Contributor

Microsoft launched Windows Azure, its cloud-based services offering at the recent Professional Developers Conference (PDC). Ray Ozzie, chief software architect at Microsoft, described Windows Azure and SQL Azure as core elements of the company’s cloud services strategy.

Now that the dust has settled a bit, it's time to look at this announcement a bit more closely.

Here's a bit of Microsoft's press release:

As part of these key investment areas, Microsoft is delivering Windows Server AppFabric Beta 1, a set of integrated, high-level application services that enable developers to more easily deploy and manage applications spanning both server and cloud. The AppFabric technology combines hosting and caching technologies (formerly known as Microsoft code-named “Dublin” and Microsoft code-named “Velocity”) with the Windows Azure platform AppFabric Service Bus and AppFabric Access Control (formerly referred to as .NET Services). Together, these technologies deliver a consistent set of application services to enhance both Windows Server and Windows Azure with a common, scalable foundation for running .NET applications. Windows Server AppFabric Beta 1 is available for download today at: http://msdn.microsoft.com/appfabric with final availability in 2010. Additional CTPs of Windows Azure platform AppFabric technologies will be made available in 2010.

Muglia today also announced the company’s plan to offer Windows Server virtual machine support on Windows Azure, enabling customers to more easily support virtualized infrastructure across the continuum of on-premises and cloud computing, and the release to manufacturing of Windows Identity Foundation, helping developers to provide more secure, simplified user access to both cloud and on-premises applications with open, identity-based claims.

In addition, Muglia announced the new release of ASP.NET MVC2 beta, a free, fully supported framework that enables developers to rapidly build standards-based Web applications through rich asynchronous JavaScript and XML (AJAX) integration and enhanced extensibility. ASP.NET MVC2 beta is available today at http://www.asp.net/mvc.

Snapshot analysis

One of the issues that delayed the adoption of platform as a service offerings has been the fact that many offerings required the use of a single vendors APIs and development tools effectively locking organizations in.  While some organizations went ahead and developed using those tools, they faced the issue that they gave up platform choice in the hope of lowering costs.  It would not be easy for them to host those applications locally, create their own private clouds or work together with partners to create a community cloud.

Microsoft's Windows Azure and SQL Azure address part of those concerns, but certainly not all of them.  Microsoft's APIs and services are still closed and proprietary. They still assume a Windows-only world. They are, on the other hand, based upon tools that are broadly used in organizations of all sizes.

Microsoft clearly has thought about how organizations are likely to reorganize their environments to make them more cloud-like and occasionally deploy applications in a cloud environment and are offering and approach that would allow developers who are already familiar with Microsoft's current tools to move forward into the cloud.

Is your organization considering these tools?

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