Yesterday, Microsoft unveils Azure Services Platform, at PDC 2008. According to the revamped Microsoft Strategy Software + Service site:
The Azure Services Platform is part of this vision, providing the power of choice and flexibility in developing, operating, migrating, and managing applications that exist on the internet or devices to provide the best experience for users. The services platform enables this by utilizing common languages, runtimes and frameworks – a common toolset that spans from the service in the cloud to a server, and from the PC to the browser to the phone.
But, what it means all this stuff? There is more detailed information at:
The following paragraphs are based on the published information:
The Azure Services Platform is hosted in Microsoft data centers, providing an operating system and a set of developer services that can be used one by one or together. You can leverage your existing skills with Visual Studio and .NET Framework. In the future, Azure will support more programming language, as Python, Ruby, and development environments, as Eclipse. Azure uses HTTP, RESP, SOAP and XML: it’s based on open standards.
Windows Azure lives at the base of the stack. It’s a cloud services operating system, supporting development, service hosting and service management environment for all the platform. You can create applications with Visual Studio: CTP version is integrated with VS experience. Notably, support for Eclipse, Ruby, PHP, and Python is welcome, altought is not clear the timeline and origin of such features. Windows Azure includes:
- Ability to run Microsoft ASP.NET Web applications or .NET code in the cloud
- Service hosting environment that includes Internet Information Services 7.0 and Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5 SP1
- Security supported by flexible Code Access Security policies
- Small runtime API that supports logging and local scratch storage
- Web portal that helps you deploy, scale, and upgrade your services quickly and easily
Simple data storage services
- Blobs, tables, and queues hosted in the cloud, close to your computation
- Authenticated access and triple replication to help keep your data safe
- Easy access to data with simple REST interfaces, available remotely and from the data center
- Complete offline development environment, including computation and storage services
- Complete command-line SDK tools and samples
- Visual Studio add-in that enables local debugging
All this is the release of the former Red Dog project. The data storage services in interesing: I guess is the evolution of SQL Data Services, another technology included in the stack. I’m not sure on the relation and dependencies of both technologies. Related links:
Live Services is composed by building blogs to handle user data and application resource. There is an emphasis on supporting a wide range of digital devices. During last years, Microsoft was pushing towards the device application world, and now is the time to connect anything, anywhere. Yeap! Resistence is futile… you will be connected… ;-)
The strong poing is the easy creation of mashups: applications that combine data or content from several sources into a new single integrated application. There is a web service API that can be used to create mashup applications. There are some running application that is this technology, an example: 3d Geology Maps. This site overlays geologic maps on three dimensions. Dozens of applications to view at the Mashups Library.
SQL Services extends the SQL Server capabilities to the cloud, using web-based services. You can create and store structured, semi-structured and unstructured data. It hosts Microsoft SQL Data Services, that can be accessed via REST and SOAP based web protocols. All this is built on SQL Server database. SQL Services Labs could be used to develop prototypes and incubate projects.
Microsoft .NET Services
Formerly Biztalk Service, now the official name is .NET Services (good choice, it has no tie with Biztalk Server). .NET Services are a set of services oriented to cloud-based and cloud-aware applications. They addresses identity, workflow and connection of application:
- Standards-based identity providers
- Support for Windows Live ID
- Enterprise directories
- Authorization decision
- Claim based with declarative rules
- Implements the Enterprise Service Bus application pattern
- Register and expose services, crossing network, security, organizational boundaries
- Host workflows (yes, Windows Microsoft Workflow)
There are web and windows tools to consume and manage these services, and APIs to access them from our applications.
I was part of the team that develop tools to access and consume these services. It was a challenging mission. In my opinion, all thess tools and services are a significant breakthrough to cloud computing. Since Ray Ozzie arrival to Microsoft, most of these stuff were nurtured by architects and developer, all around the world, and now, at PDC, all was unveiled.
The cloud computing sky is not blue: it’s azure.