It's just one early user's opinion, but it sounds like Microsoft needs to beef up the integrated console component of Windows Azure to keep its cloud-computing customers happy.
Microsoft began charging users for Azure compute and storage as of February 2, 2010. One of the showcase customers the company has trotted out as an early adopter is Lokad, a forecasting software/services vendor.
On February 8, Lokad founder Joannes Vermorel, blogged his "big wish list" for Windows Azure. He itemized his suggestions for new features and tweaks that the "would turn Azure into a killer product, deserving a lion-sized market share in the cloud computing marketplace."
Having used the Azure service in beta/pilot form for a year, Vermorel knows well the ins and outs of Microsoft's offering. He had a number of suggestions for Microsoft about the core Windows Azure cloud-operating-system core, ranging from smaller virtual machines, to per-minute (as opposed to current) per-hour pricing. (There have been other calls for Microsoft to offer cheaper pricing for smaller Azure customers.) Vermorel also made a case for some new features for SQL Azure.
But there's one piece of Azure that Vermorel said he doesn't like at all: The Windows Azure Console. From his post:
"The Windows Azure Console is probably the weakest component of Windows Azure. In many ways, it's a real shame to see such a good piece of technology so much dragged down by the abysmal usability of its administrative web client."
What's wrong with the console? Vermorel said it needs a 100-times speed-up (he says users can be required to wait 20 minutes for an update after a configuration of a role). And don't get him started on billing; it's a mess. He noted:
"(B)eside the fact that about 10 counter-intuitive clicks are required to navigate from the console toward your consumption records; the consumption reporting is still of substandard quality. Billing cries for massive look & feel improvements."
Vermorel listed some new services he'd like to see added to Azure, including Google's MapReduce distributed framework for processing large datasets. He noted that Microsoft has been making strides in this space with its own DryadLINQ (which is currently a Microsoft Research project).
Speaking of LINQ, cloud expert and Oakleaf Systems blogger Roger Jennigs recently had an interesting update on the "father of LINQ" Erik Meijer. Connecting some dots, Jennings came to the realization that Microsoft's discontinued Volta project has been reborn as the Reactive Extensions for .Net (and is still being championed by Meijer). Meijer is running the Cloud Programmability Team at Microsoft these days. Those Reactive Extensions are currently not on a path to commercialization; they're a project in Microsoft's DevLabs. But who knows when and how they'll surface as elements of future releases of .Net and Silverlight?
So, back to Azure present, not future. Any early testers/adopters have anything to add, re: Vermorel's console comments?