Lap around Cloud Services

During the keynote Microsoft has unveiled Microsoft Azure as their “Operating System for the cloud”. At Microsoft the cloud is seen as a set of connected servers/services.

With Azure an organization does not have to worry about running hardware, operating systems on servers, take care of data storage for a full 100%. Instead, some software can be run in the cloud (using Azure as the “OS”), and spend more time on your business logic as opposed to getting everything to run. Of course you can still use or combine this with on-premise (the old-fashioned) applications and services, as in Software + Services.

Azure gives support for utility computing, meaning that it is always there and for a “pay as you use” pricing model. The business model is consumption based and has SLA levels with financial guarantees should anything go wrong.

The key features of Azure highlighted:

  • Automated service management
    The platform takes care of deployment, monitoring and manages your services given the rules and roles you have defined.
    The goal is to keep a service responsive and healthy during failures and upgrades. It is even possible to go into “raw” mode and build your own virtual machine and start managing your services yourself.
  • Powerful service hosting environment
    Based on Hyper-V virtualization.
  • Scalable available cloud storage
    You will be given simple storage abstractions. There are blobs (later on also file streams for videos and such stuff) for large data items, service state using tables (and caches) and queues.
    There is an emphasis on massive scale, availability, durability. Important to say that it is not a database in the cloud.
  • Develop as you are used to develop
    You get to run a simulated cloud environment on your developer desktop. ASP.NET Furthermore there is a ecosystem of tools and support, ranging from integration with VS. To help you debug a live service (not very wise to really debug such things) you can use logging and alerts (later on tracing as well). Plus we should get the usual documentation and community sources.

The Technical Preview will start this noon with only limited resources for the first period. The features that matter most are important in this preview are: VMs with dedicated resources, a simple service architectures and a single large datacenter on the west coast of the United States. Initially you can use managed code, but native code will be services later on as well.

In the end there will be a commercial release. This means you will have to pay for these services.

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