Windows Azure Services Platform gives wings to .Net

Microsoft's Community Technology Preview reveals a thoughtfully designed cloud computing architecture where seasoned .Net developers will feel at home

Microsoft intends its new Windows Azure Services Platform to be a serious cloud computing platform for a broad range of developers and scenarios, from lone developers starting up a new Web-based company on a shoestring to large teams of enterprise developers looking for high-performance, highly available, and scalable Web sites, computing, and storage. A few years out, Microsoft wants Azure to be seen as the preferred location for enterprise data, not as a business risk. It's off to a good start.

There's a tremendous amount of capability being presented in the Azure CTP (Community Technology Preview), and there's more to come. It goes beyond simple Web hosting to a flexible architecture designed to automatically enlist additional resources in response to demand. There are capabilities here that I haven't seen in competing cloud offerings -- for example, workflows. The Azure team has picked and chosen existing Microsoft technologies -- virtual servers, the .Net Framework, IIS, worker processes, databases, queues, enterprise service bus, workflows, authentication, and so on -- and adapted them to the cloud.

One very promising note is how these services are tied together. The Microsoft of 10 years ago would have created proprietary interfaces to exclude its competitors from taking advantage of its technologies. The Azure team used open standards: REST, SOAP, Atom, and the like. This inclusive choice opens the Azure services to easy integration with almost any programming language and operating system.

Another promising note is how, while breaking new ground, the Azure team made the programming model familiar to developers who have worked with the .Net Framework. You don't have to learn a new programming language or IDE to work with Azure. If you know Visual Studio and C# or Visual Basic .Net, you're good to go, now with relatively little effort. Using other .Net languages and tools is possible but not as well documented. Although using unmanaged code is not yet allowed, it will be in the future.

It took me a couple of weeks of dabbling with Azure an hour at a time to "get it." Part of my problem was that I was overwhelmed by the amount of seemingly independent functionality available. Once I realized that what I was learning was a carefully designed, scalable SOA tied together with RESTful APIs, it began to gel for me. I would expect that any moderately experienced .Net developer with some SOA experience could be somewhat productive with Azure after a few days of concentrated work and fluent in a few weeks.

Four pillars

The Microsoft Azure Services Platform is a Windows-like cloud computing architecture with four major parts: Windows Azure, which is a Windows-based environment for running applications and storing data on servers in Microsoft datacenters; Microsoft .Net Services, which are distributed infrastructure services; Microsoft SQL Services, which are data services in the cloud based on SQL Server; and Live Services, which access data from Microsoft's Live applications and others and allow synchronizing this data through Live Mesh.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags microsoft azure

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Martin Heller

InfoWorld
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?