# Friday, 27 November 2009

This video from the recent Microsoft developers conference provides an excellent overview of Azure. It's a little over an hour, but worth it.

Some takeaway points:

  • The Azure Table service that was introduced early on as a core platform feature, largely in response to Google's BigTable and Amazon's SimpleDB, no longer appears to be strategic to Azure.
  • SQL Azure lets Developers reuse existing SQL Server databases, stored procedures, and skills for storage in the cloud.
  • Applications are developed locally and pushed to the cloud.
  • Both staging and production environments are available for a 2 phase publishing workflow (nicely done!)
  • Azure instances run on virtual machines.
  • Provisioning is fairly low-level. Developers control how many CPU cores, RAM, and bandwidth resources. Pay for more as needed. Scale back when not needed.
  • Load balancing is built-in (although not clear to me how multiple SQL instances stay in sync)
  • Azure instances are language agnostic. Developers can run Ruby on Rails, PHP, or .NET apps. Basically anything that can run on IIS will run on Azure
  • Developer can choose from among several geographies when provisioning cloud apps.
  • All demo apps I've seen are running in the URL cloudapps.net. Not clear on how DNS fits in the mix, but apparently it's possible to have multiple domain bindings on a single VM for multi-tenant architecture
  • Copies exist of all data and apps for disaster recovery
  • Logging is done using existing native .NET APIs
  • It appears almost all APIs are accessible via PowerShell scripts. GUIs are starting to come online, demonstrating Microsoft's patience of getting the system level aspects done right before working on eye candy
Bottom line is that Azure is the real deal and is squarely looking to make up the ground lost to Amazon EC2. If you get a chance, I recommend checking out this guided tour of a next gen Azure container.