Blogging Azure

    windows-azure Microsoft released the initial details about the cloud computing platform at PDC in October. The platform is roughly a 3 layered approach. Best I can figure it’s very similar to an existing server configuration. Just like I have operating system and server topology in a data center design, I need to do the same in building a cloud application.

    Steve Marx provides an example Hello Cloud application in Learning to Build on Windows Azure. Basically he writes a standard ASP.NET application, and then separately configures the runtime environment. It’s interesting because it allows for a level of abstraction around the platform: compute, storage and management. CloudEnterprise has an interesting comparison of Windows Azure to Amazon AWS, Google App Engine and VMWare. 

    Feature Microsoft Amazon Google VMWare
    Availability Early private CTP Commercial available Public beta Announced
    Computing Architecture Windows 2008 virtual machines Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) to upload XEN images Python and run on shared application server layer Move virtual machines between environments
    Storage Cloud Storage Services (blog, table & queue) + SQL Services Simple Storage Service (S3) and SimpleDB Datastore APIs
    Message Queue Cloud Storage Services Simple Queue Services (SQS)

    Table adapted from EnterpriseCloud.info

    I’m trying to relate it to my experiences building Rails apps and deploying on EC2 and S3 instances. It feels different than the Amazon AWS approach. It feels less like hosting a VM instance on Amazon infrastructure and using their storage and queuing service to scale my architecture. But learning to use EC2, S3 and SQS took some time. I’m thinking it will take additional time and prototyping to learn how to architect and build my web apps to run on Azure (bigger challenge seems to be teaching me C#). It’s different.  

    Intro to Windows Azure Services Platform

    Windows Azure Blogs

    • Windows Azure – Windows Azure team official blog.  Yes, nothing there now, but more will come, so subscribe. J
    • Cloud Compute Tools Team – The team that built the Visual Studio integration for Windows Azure.  Points to lots of good resources by individual team members.
    • David Aiken – Windows Azure Technical Evangelist
    • David Lemphers – PM on Windows Azure
    • Gus Perez – Developer on Cloud Compute Tools
    • Jim Nakashima – PM on Cloud Compute Tools
    • Sriram Krishnan – PM on Windows Azure
    • Steve Marx – Technical Strategist on Windows Azure

    Other Blogs & Resources

    • AzureFeeds – Aggregation of a bunch of feeds (including most of the above)
    • David Burela – Playing with Silverlight and WCF in Windows Azure services
    • Mike Amundsen – Currently doing some work against Windows Azure tables
    • Tanzim Saqib – Wrote a couple nice pieces about Windows Azure, but haven’t seen a lot lately on the topic…

    Give customers choice

    Mark Relph has been talking about Choice and Flexibility (part 2) for customers. Today with the announcement of Windows Azure you can start to see how Microsoft is trying to offer the rich user experience choices and the choice of infrastructure, on premises or in the cloud, for developers, IT Pros and ultimately consumers.

    choiceandflexibility

    What you get is the opportunity to figure out what is right for you, your developers, your organization, your customers and your applications. The goal is to provide designers and developers a common set of Services that can be mixed an matched. If your a startup, you can decide to keep your application, infrastructure and services in the cloud leveraging the ability to instantly scale your applications and manage your costs. If you are an existing company with a large IT investment, you can leverage your existing corporate infrastructure layering in the pieces that allow you to grow or reduce your costs through the economies of scale offered by the cloud services.

    You can start see the applications and tools that Microsoft has been shipping in context. Internet Explorer 8 is a tool for accessing software in the cloud. Silverlight 2 is a way for designers and developers to create compelling rich Internet applications. Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) is a powerful environment for desktop software development. As developers you get a shared set of tools (Web Standards, Javascript, JQuery, .NET, XAML, C#, VisualStudio 2008) that can be used to build applications and services.

    choiceandflexibility-startups 

    Developers can begin to build solutions that fit the needs of their audience. It is about being able to build the right solution for your company, your audience, and your market using the appropriate tools and technologies. ProductWiki is building a web service for open product reviews. Me.dium is building a shared social browsing experience. ThoughtFarmer is enterprise collaboration tool that lives behind the firewall. Xobni is mail analytics and improved communications integrated in Outlook.

    servicesPlatform

    It’s about choice. The choice of device. The choice of user experience. The choice that fits your business and your customers. It’s about the flexibility of the platform to grow and evolve as you do.