Thank you to everyone taking time out of your St. Patricks day celebrations to spend 4 hours with my talking about the cloud and Microsoft’s offerings, I had a great time and lot of fun.  I hope everyone did as well.  I look forward to seeing all of you next time I am in the motor city.  We had lots of great questions and you will find them answered below.  As always if you need more information or clarification let me know!

I also wanted to share with you another place to get your Azure questions answered:  Windows Azure Office Hours.  There are a lot of people that are interested in the cloud, but they don't know how to get started. Maybe they just have a lot of questions before they decide to get going. This is what we are here for. During office hours we will have the door wide open. Come on in, toss out your questions, and we'll help you anyway we can. The office will be staffed with cloud computing experts from Microsoft, and some of our leading partners. No agenda, just show up and pitch us your questions. No Registration. No emails. No commitments. Just show up.  Go here to learn about the hours:

Windows Azure Office Hours

Q: What happens if the Fabric Controller “crashes”?
A:
Well aside from having worry about the dinosaurs roaming the earth.  Smile  The fabric controller is highly replicated throughout Azure, and ultimately if this service was to go down (highly unlikely) there is redundancy underneath to restart the service.  While this is an interesting question, I put it in the category of what would happen if the Internet crashed.

Q: What if all of your instances crash?
A:
This is where the fabric controller will take action and restart your servers on new systems.  This is why you see the error message to load at least 2 instances when you upload your Azure application.

Q: Where are the replicas stored (same DC, same container, or just anywhere in the affinity group?)
A:
The replicas are stored in a variety of locations and to clarify there are only replicas of the data (2 to be specific) not of your application.  This simply means that when you upload your application, make sure you have at least two instances.

Q: What cloud security certifications does it currently have?
A:
  This is one the great conversations we had regarding Azure and the cloud.  There is some great information here about the security principals of Azure: Windows Azure Security Overview also this article (from 2009) mentions the accreditations that Azure has(The Microsoft cloud has obtained ISO/IEC 27001:2005 certification and SAS 70 Type 1 and II attestations. ) Microsoft Azure: Security in the Cloud 

Q: How does denial of service attack impact the SLA?
A:
Built into Azure there is a Denial of Service detection engine to help them from preventing these type of attacks, here is a great interview and how this comes together: Doug Hauger: Inside the Windows Azure Platform Business Model 

Q: Will we publish statistics of DoS attacks?
A:
Not that I aware of.

Q: How to backup to cloud?
A:
Here is a good article talking about how to do this and a third party tool to use: Backup to Windows Azure Storage in 3 Easy Steps 

Q: Can I backup .pst with Office 365?
A:
If you are running Outlook 2010 locally, then you backup the .psts. I have not tested but the Microsoft Outlook Personal Folders Backup utility can do this for 2007 and folks have said it works for them.  To learn more take a look here: How to automatically back up your personal folders file in Outlook 

Q: Can I have a logon message for my Office 365 logins?
A:
I am not sure you can do this, and I may have missed something simple, but I do not see away to do this unless you are using AD as  a part of your Office 365 solution.  The login message then would come from AD, and is not really coming from Office 365.

Q: Can I have extranet anonymous access to my SharePoint online (for customers)?
A:
No, I have not seen this feature available for SharePoint online, but I also think this is a reflection of lack of customization of SharePoint Online.

Q: What about legacy applications and Azure?
A:
If the application can run on Windows Server 2008 or later, it should be able to run in the cloud.

Q: What is the lifetime of Azure applications?
A:
The lifetime of applications is determined by the setting you use for the configuration of the OS in Azure.  There are two settings:

  • You can choose to upgrade the guest OS automatically. With this option, Windows Azure will automatically upgrade your VMs to the latest release of the guest OS in the OS family, once it becomes available. Setting your service to upgrade automatically is recommended as a best practice. (noteNote Automatic upgrading from one OS family to another is not supported.)
  • You can manually upgrade the guest OS for your service at a time of your choosing using the Windows Azure Platform Management Portal.

If you manually upgrade then you can control how your applications base OS is set.  To learn more take a look here: Configuring Settings for the Windows Azure Guest OS