Kevin Remde's IT Pro Weblog

No thanks. I'll PaaS. ("Cloudy April" - Part 6)

No thanks. I'll PaaS. ("Cloudy April" - Part 6)

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imageHave you looked at Windows Azure lately?  It was announced a couple of years ago, released just over a year ago, and already it’s the most solid platform-as-a-service out there.

You remember PaaS, right?  I introduced it back in Part 3 of this series.

“Yes, I remember.”

Good. 

I won’t waste your time going into the details of the platform here in this blog post.  It is well documented at the Windows Azure site.  And it’s also very easy to get started with, too.  Even I, an IT Professional, was able to build and deploy an application into Windows Azure.

“But weren’t you at one time a Software Engineer, Kevin?”

Yeah, I used to be a pretty solid C++ developer.  But.. that was too many years ago to remember.  Honestly, though, the Platform Installer makes it so easy to download and configure everything you need to start building Windows Azure applications.  And the Training Kit contains demo-after-glorious-demo application and lab assignments that walk you through building and publishing applications into Windows Azure.

Fair to partly cloudyBut I digress.  Let me just summarize in my own words** what the Windows Azure Platform is:

  • It’s a place to run your applications for global, highly available access.  You just load your application, your web site, your database… and we take care of the platform for you.
  • You take advantage of Microsoft’s secured datacenters throughout the world.
  • Need more instances of your web site or application for the need of massive performance or high demand?  Easy.  Just tell it you want more instances.  Done with those?  Turn ‘em off (essentially giving them back).  You only pay for what you use.
  • You let Microsoft handle the connectivity and high-availability of your application.  Load-balancing?  Yeah, we do that for you.  DNS?  It’s all managed for you.  You let Microsoft handle scaling your application up and down based on what you desire, and it happens automatically with no application downtime.
  • You can run part or all of your application “in the cloud”, and securely connect the other parts from your own datacenter.
  • You have products such as SQL Azure to host your relational databases in the cloud.  You have tools such as the AppFabric and the Windows Azure Connect for making secured connections between your applications, between the cloud and your datacenter (cloud to ground?), and identity management so that you can grant access and authorization to your applications using either your own Active Directory or some other directory service.

This is just the tip-o-the cloud, to be sure. 

“I should try this out.  Can I?”

Yes you can.  There is a free trial available.  The trial does require you to enter a credit card and essentially sign up for the service.

“Bummer.  What if I just want a free, like, say, 30 days to try it out.. and I don’t care about what happens to my application after the 30 days are up?”

I was just getting to that.  Smile  Yeah.. the good news is that for a limited time we have something called the Windows Azure Pass.  It requires a special promo code, but I’m not allowed to give it to you here.  (HINT: To get it from me, you have to attend one of our live-in-person Central Region TechNet Events.)
UPDATE: Okay.. You twisted my arm.  Here is the promotion code: TNAZURE

UPDATE to the UPDATE: The Windows Azure Pass offer is over.  Keep watching my blog for future, similar offers, like the FREE 90-DAY AZURE TRIAL.

Here are some additional Windows Azure resources, to help you get started.

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And hey!  Did you know that the latest version of the Microsoft Assessment and Planning (MAP) Toolkit actually has a feature that scans for and makes recommendations on Applications that might be good candidates for running in Windows Azure

“I did not know that, Kevin.”

You can find out more about using the MAP tool to plan for Windows Azure, here: Microsoft Assessment and Planning Tool for Windows Azure

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Check back tomorrow for Part 7, where we’ll cover SQL Azure in greater detail.

** This means I’m just writing off the top of my head, and these statements do NOT have the blessing of Microsoft or the talented members of our Business Marketing Organization.

  • PaaS...something rpath did in 2005 and continues to do now.  I'd say they're light years ahead of Azure.

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