Azure preview - my first impressions and some screenshots

I received an email from Microsoft today inviting me to try out their new Azure platform prior to its commercial launch.

Azure is an exciting new service from Microsoft for creating applications that are available over the internet. In other words, this is a new way of setting-up Cloud-based apps. Almost anything that you could ever want to do on the web -- from making files available to Ajax services for your personal blog, to running enterprise-scale databases, websites and web services, etc -- it can be achieved quickly and easily on the Azure platform. This puts an entire, scalable Cloud infrastructure at your disposal.

Everything you need to know about Azure, in one paragraph ;)

Azure architecture

Azure is just a brand name for a new platform offered by Microsoft where you can put some of your technology. Your websites, web services, APIs, databases, etc, can all run on Azure very nicely. With Azure you can happily put all your technology and data out there in the Cloud (i.e. located on the Internet); or just as easily keep some or most of your technology elsewhere -- whether it's on physical hardware on-site, or hosted off-site. So Azure is simply giving us a new option for hosting technology. The simplest thing you'd do with Azure is probably a web site or app hosted on Windows Azure. You can do so much more though, e.g. with SQL Azure (essentially just SQL Server). That's all there is too it really. It's simple. The diagram above says it all, really.

Azure is hugely and dynamically scalable, so it's absolutely ideal if you may need to deal with sudden spikes. (Conventionally hosted websites often fail when there is a big traffic spike. For example, I am aware of websites offering local news and travel information [running on Django and other platforms] which crashed during the snow storms here in the UK earlier this year.  Other common causes of traffic spikes include popular content, features, competitions, etc.) I tend to use ASP.NET web apps and .NET worker apps. PHP, CGI, Ruby and even Python will also be supported. Azure us cheap -- very competitive compared to alternative hosting strategies.

Azure is an important part of the future of technology from Microsoft, and the Cloud is an important part of the future of technology in general. We're at the height of the technological revolution. Technology has evolved with astonishing speed over the past five decades through a series of major steps -- from mainframes, to PCs, to the web, and now Cloud architectures. The next big step in the evolution of technology is the Cloud, and with it Azure.

There's a dedicated website for getting more information about Azure, including videos and online tutorials. Participants in the pre-launch "Dip In" trial programme also get a free training session to help us get started with trying-out the new service. I'll be trying it out so, if you're interested or perhaps just curious, watch this space for more info....

30 September 2009

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Tim Acheson (30 Sep 09, 08:31)

Azure screenshots

I captured the following screenshots to help you get a feel for the service for this exciting new service for yourself:-

Tim Acheson (07 Oct 09, 08:09)

I was at Microsoft HQ in London yesterday evening, for an intro to Azure and demos, with David Chappell and Eric Nelson. It was a very informative session, which told me everything I need to know to get started with using Azure. The pizza and juice was nice too. I've updated the original blog post above with a picture and one paragraph to sum it all up.

I'm in the process of trying out Azure now by putting some web apps and databases on there. These are just typical ASP.NET MVC web apps and WCF web services, packaged for deployment to Azure using Visual Studio.

I highly reccomend the Dip into Azure web portal set up here in the UK, and the free Azure trial available on there, to anybody who's remotely curious about Azure, or just the future of IT or Cloud computing in general. What will you do with your free web platform and hundreds of terabytes of online storage?!

I'll blog soon with more on Azure, so watch this space... ! :)

I think Azure will be very popular in the future and currently I see lots of developers discussions and already completed projects on Azure. Just check this one Rather simple but interesting tool

Tim Acheson (03 Mar 10, 19:09)

Thanks for sharing yuor thoughts and details of your own experience with Azure. I certainlt agree these platforms will be increasingly important in the future. I could even envisage the cloud overtaking traditional third-party hosting packages in the marketplace, especially if volume drives down prices. To me, Azure is the first true cloud platform, in contrast to Amazon's wonderful EC2 which is like a VM farm (a useful facility in its own right) with cloud platform capabilities.


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