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Windows Azure: OS and Platform as a Service

Speaking at Microsoft's Professional Developers Conference recently, Bob Muglia, President, Server & Tools Business clearly delineated his vision of how he sees Windows Azure evolving as both operating system and platform as a service (PaaS).

Hyperbolic rhetoric aside, Muglia touts Azure as a highly integrated and comprehensive platform of services with which users can write applications. As an example, he said that Azure includes a caching service that will speed up applications and get web applications and pages out faster—all by writing just a couple of lines of code.

He also pointed out how technologies like .NET, established tools such as Visual Studio, and new management tools like System Center have been designed to work together, and are now being reengineered for the cloud. However, he added, these products are not just being moved into Azure to run on a virtual machine.

In his words, "We are saying to ourselves, what does the cloud require of the underlying platform? What does it have to deliver? Well, it needs to deliver a fully available, globally scaled, shared, multi-tenant service. And that's how we're redesigning these underlying services as a part of Windows Azure."

In order to make his point, Muglia compared SQL Server to SQL Azure, saying SQL Server was designed to run on a single server or a cluster of servers. The big difference between the two? Even though SQL Azure is the same database environment users have known for years, it runs on, and replicates data across thousands of computers in six global data centers without any user intervention.

"You don't think about it," Muglia said. "You don't think about how you're allocating files and how you're building up underlying physical infrastructure. SQL Azure handles that because that's what a real path database system should do. When we talk about Windows Azure and services we're making available to Windows Azure developers, those services will be available also within private cloud data centers that run Azure, so if your organization wants that kind of environment, these same set of services will be made available to you."

Winding down his pitch, Muglia said Microsoft is providing services to Azure so users can clear the decks and concentrate on the things that really matter to them, namely writing their applications as quickly as possible, and ultimately solving their business problems.

Posted by Bruce Hoard on 11/08/2010 at 12:48 PM


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