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Personally, I see Windows Azure Connect is a killer app to facilitate the adoption of cloud computing. For all IT pros, this is where we take off and reach out to the sky while dancing down the street with a cloud at our feet. And that’s amore.image

What It Is

To simply put, Windows Azure Connect offers IPSec connectivity between Windows Azure role instances in public cloud and computers and virtual machines deployed in a private network as shown below. 

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Why It Matters

The IPSec connectivity provided by Windows Azure Connect enables enterprise IT to relatively easily establish trust between on-premises resources and Windows Azure role instances. A Windows Azure role instance can now join and be part of an Active Directory domain. In other words, a domain-joined role instance will then be part of a defense-in-depth strategy, included in a domain isolation, and subjected to the same name resolution, authentication scheme, and domain policies with other domain members as depicted in the following schematic.image

In Windows Azure Platform AppFabric (AppFabric), there is also the so-called Service Bus offering connectivity options for Windows Communication Foundation (WCF) and other service endpoints. Both Windows Azure Connect and AppFabric are very exciting features and different approaches for distributed applications to establish connectivity with intended resources. In a simplistic view, Windows Azure Connect is set at a box-level and more relevant to sys-admin operations and settings, while Service Bus is a programmatic approach in a Windows Azure application and with more control on what and how to connect.

A Clear Cloudy Day Ahead

imageUltimately, Windows Azure Connect offers a cloud application a secure integration point with private network resources. At the same time, for on-premises computing Windows Azure Connect extends resources securely to public cloud. Both introduce many opportunities and interesting scenarios in a hybrid model where cloud computing and on-premises deployment together form an enterprise IT. The infrastructure significance and operation complexities at various levels in a hybrid model enabled by Windows Azure Connect bring excitements and many challenges to IT pros. What a great development in cloud computing. And I realize there’s indeed a place in the world for a gambler and where skies are blue and dreams do come true.image

<Next to Part 2: Application Integration/Migration Model>