Valued Cloud Vendor Competitors! Today Windows Azure announce “Sharks with frikkin’ lazers” and much more effectively closing the gap on any technical advantage you had over them in the Cloud. As you also well know Microsoft offer a multitude of services in their Platform, several of which you cannot match, including the worlds best Platform as a Service (PaaS) Cloud. The Windows Azure Platform also embraces openness, open standards and open source including competing products and Operating Systems (!) on a scale never before seen from Redmond. The offering is the one with the biggest global reach, the most comprehensive service backend and the best support for everything and anything their clients and partners would ever wish for! Oh – and the Microsoft Machine is just warming up – there will be more in the years to come… much more joy for the users! Mark this day, June 7th 2012, the day when Windows Azure took a decisive lead in the Cloud Race! //Magnus Mårtensson – Windows Azure MVP.
What is up?
Just a few hours now until the Meet Windows Azure official announcements with all of the new goodness live from San Francisco (1PM PDT) we the Windows Azure MVPs are totally wound up ready to go! Some of you know that more and more features have trickled out of Redmond and into the Cloud during the course of this day. The MVPs have known for a long time what is in the making but have been prevented under NDA to disclose any facts. Starting now we get to publicly disclose the content of the release without violating our NDA. * phew * finally! Sitting on all of these brilliant news without being able to discuss them really messes with your mind.
Below is my first venting of some of the most important new content with personal comments.
Friends also blogging
“With a little help from my friends” I will update a list on this post of valued Cloud Colleagues and their great insights on the new Microsoft Windows Azure Cloud:
- Aymeric Weinbach: Le nouveau Windows Azure est arrivé (Translated from French to English using Microsoft Translator)
- Brad Stineman: Meet Windows Azure–Christmas in June
- David Pallman: Reintroducing Windows Azure, Part 1: The New Management Portal
- Dennis Burton: Developing Single Page, Real Time Websites on Windows Azure
- Gaurav Mantri: Updates to Windows Azure Service Management REST API | Updates to Windows Azure Storage – Reduced Transaction Pricing and Geo Replication
- Glenn Block: Windows Azure just got a lot friendlier to node.js developers
- Herve Roggero: Microsoft Lowers Cloud Barrier To Entry
- Jérémie Devillard: New Windows Azure Management Portal : Cloud Service dashboard and Management
- Maarten Baaliauw: GitHub for Windows Azure Web Sites
- Michael Wood: Why is Windows Azure Deployment Now Comparable to Heroku?
- Nuno Godinho: What's new in Windows Azure June Release - SDK 1.7 | IIS Express support for local development in Windows Azure SDK 1.7 | Side-by-Side support in Windows Azure SDK 1.7
- Phil Hoff: Add Files to your Windows Azure Package using Role Content Folders
- Roger Jennings: Standing Up a Windows Server 2012 RC Virtual Machine in the New Windows Azure Management Portal Preview | Adding Windows Azure Preview Features to Your Subscription
- Steve Spencer: Introducing Windows Azure Websites
- Wade Wegner: Early thoughts on the Windows Azure Announcements | Notes from the MEET Windows Azure Keynote
- Wilfried Woivré: Windows Azure SDK 1.7 et un nouveau portail d’administration (Translated from French to English using Microsoft Translator)
- Magnus Mårtensson: And Windows Azure Takes the Lead
And some official posts:
- Scott Hanselman: Windows Azure – No Kidding
- Scott Guthrie: Meet the New Windows Azure
- Windows Azure blog: Now Available: New Services and Enhancements to Windows Azure
- Windows Azure Storage Team blog: Introducing Locally Redundant Storage for Windows Azure Storage | 10x Price Reduction for Windows Azure Storage Transactions
My comments on some of the new features
There are so many BIG parts of this new platform and I don’t even know where to start. This blog post will not be able to cover it all.
So, without further ado, and in no particular order:
Durable VMs make Windows Azure a true IaaS (Infrastructure as a Serivce) platform. Microsoft recognize that the on-boarding process to the Amazon IaaS Cloud has been easier and faster than moving to a PaaS Cloud. The latter could mean anything from small to fundamental rewrites. With Durable VMs you can just lift the VMs that host your Applications as is up to the Cloud and let them execute and scale out there. A big portion of the VMs spinning in the Amazon Cloud are Windows Servers for which Microsoft gets license revenue from Amazon. As far as I know Amazon has about a 2/3 market share for IaaS today which is massive! With this new IaaS offering from Microsoft you will be able to push your VMs to the Windows Azure Cloud. And this is not even he the important part!
The important parts here are two things:
1) Just because it’s quick and easy to move a VM to the Cloud as an IaaS instance it does not mean you should remain in that state indefinitely. You should consider migrating over to PaaS hosted applications over time. The reason is simply that PaaS is the better and most optimized option for most application hosting scenarios. With IaaS you still have to manage your VMs, patch them and keep them fresh and up to date. Also issues like log management etc. are not automatically managed for you by the platform. In essence you get virtualization on steroids. With PaaS, on the other hand, all you need to worry about is building your applications and evolving your business. PaaS takes care of all the underlying OS maintenance factors. One could cheekily say that IaaS is quick and easy but also quick and a little bit dirty while PaaS is more purely focused on your business with no overhead.
2) The second reason why using the Windows Azure IaaS Cloud is a better option is due to the large amount of built in Services the Windows Azure Platform offers. Examples are world class identity and access management and the hugely scalable and lightning fast Service Bus that supports all the protocols you will ever need. Caching and Global Content Delivery Network (CDN), SQL Database and Cloud Storage and more. Check out the Windows Azure Features list for a comprehensive listing of what’s available.
Multiple OS support. Operating Systems that are able to run on the durable VMs will now include multiple several OS versions. Naturally the latest and greatest Windows Server versions as well as several official Linux distributions. Yes that’s right, folks! I will type that again: Several official Linux distributions are supported on the Windows Azure Platform! Microsoft is providing full support in their data centers for running the arch enemy server operating system Linux! If that don’t make your head spin, dear reader, you haven’t got a clue what you are reading! ;~) This is unheard of and unprecedented in Microsoft history and it is BIG MAJOR news folks! I will give Clemens Vasters the best twitter quote award on this one:
“If hell froze over you'd expect penguins to settle there, right?” – Clemens Vasters
Web Sites. If all you want to do is easily host and run a Web Site this is now very easily deployed, hosted, scaled and run with Windows Azure Web Sites. The freaky cool thing here is that while you can connect to and use any Windows Azure Service from your Web Sites on the Platform you don’t have to. All you need is a Windows Azure Account and your existing Web Development Skilz! Deploying, upgrading, scaling and monitoring is a breeze with the new tooling support and the new portal.
Continous Delivery. In the area of Continuous Delivery you are now very easily able to integrate with Git and TFS for source control and automatically build, test and deploy each version of your code to Windows Azure! This is absolutely phenomenal news since competitors are also able to do this.
Bring your own Language. The platform now has full support for a new language, Python, to add to the Java, PHP, node.js and .NET (C#/VB) support (and others) that previously existed. This means that you can build applications in the language of your choice, deploy those applications to Windows Azure and get the same first class citizen support for any of these languages.
Personally I am a developer but there is so much goodness coming out for IT-Pros in the Cloud that I am almost jealous that I am not a server and cables person! This is best covered in the official blog post by Bill Laing from yesterday: Announcing New Windows Azure Services to Deliver “Hybrid Cloud”. Those devs, until recently myself included, who thought that the best Cloud Candy was aimed for Developers, think again! The best stuff including the tastiest treats for this industry are targeted to the IT-Pros! Congratulations!
It is a very exiting time to be a Windows Azure MVP in particular and a Cloud proponent professional in general. The Cloud just grew bigger and the evolution of Cloud Services, be it the Microsoft offering or a competing Cloud, has never been faster.
As you can clearly see today Microsoft takes a Quantum leap forward and into the lead in the Cloud Race challenging the competitors with the biggest, most comprehensive, most globally available Cloud stack with the widest array of built in globally scalable services and the most widely supported technology options in the market today. Weather you build Java applications hosted on Linux or C# applications hosted on Windows Server the Windows Azure Platform and the power of all of those services included at your beck and call is a viable option for you!
IT will be all Cloud – IT as a Utility is here! Learn it, Live it, Love it!