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March CTP of the Windows Azure Tools and SDK Released at MIX09

| by Jean-Jacques Dubray Follow 3 Followers on Mar 19, 2009. Estimated reading time: 2 minutes |

Manuvir Das, director of engineering at Microsoft, presented an overview of Azure Services yesterday at the MIX 09 Conference and announced the new refresh of the Windows Azure CTP.

Manuvir started his presentation with a simple description of Microsoft's views on Cloud Computing:

Windows Azure is an operating system for the cloud.

An operating system is application execution environment that abstracts away the hardware. There is a shared file system. Resource allocation is made from a shared pool, across application. Support for powerful programming models. It offers interoperability with other systems.

What does an OS buys you?

Applications scale within limits. The hardware is someone else's problem. Running an app is as simple as typing foo..exe and hit enter.

What is the Cloud?

It just a set of connected servers. There is more than one and there are routers and load balancers.

On which developers can install and run services and store and retrieve data.

It is not a single machine anymore and this is the key difference.

The reality of life in the cloud.

  • respond to hardware failure
  • handle traffic and storage variations
  • diagnose service failures

The problems that people are confronted today are:

  • Scale is not free
  • Hardware is not someone else's problem.
  • Running an app != type foo.exe, hit enter.

A Cloud OS offers

  • abstract execution environment
  • shared file system
  • resource allocation
  • programming environments

This is now reach the level of Utility Computing.

  • 24/7
  • Pay as you use
  • Simpler, transparent administration

So what does the developer get?

  • A rich familiar developer experience.
  • A powerful service execution environment
    • All of the hardware: servers, load balancers
    • virtualized and direct execution
  • Automated service management
    • you define the rules and provide your code
    • the platform follows the rules, deployes, monitors, and manages your service
  • Scalable, available cloud storage
    • Blobs, tables, queues,

Azure is an OS for the cloud. It provides facilities to write, host and manage your apps and store your data.

It provides a rich and familiar Developer Experience

  • A cloud environment in the desktop SDK
  • Support for a variety of languages, ASP.Net, .NET, native code, PHP
  • An ecosystem of tools and support
    • Integration with VS and Eclipse
    • Logging, alerts, tracing
    • Samples, documentation, MSDN, forums,...

Jim Nakshima explained what's new in this release:

What’s new in Windows Azure SDK

  • Support for developing Managed Full Trust applications. It also provides support for Native Code via PInvokes and spawning native processes.
  • Support for developing FastCGI applications, including support for rewrite rules via URL Rewrite Module.
  • Improved support for the integration of development storage with Visual Studio, including enhanced performance and support for SQL Server (only local instance). 

What’s new in Windows Azure Tools for Visual Studio

  • Combined installer includes the Windows Azure SDK Addressed top customer bugs.
  • Native Code Debugging. Update Notification of future releases.
  • FastCGI template

Manuvir also explained that Azure is also now capable of Geo-Location.

  • you cloud project consists of applications
    • 0 or more compute services
    • 0 or more storage accounts
  • Windows Azure is in multiple "locales"
  • You can now
    • Choose a locale for any of your applications
    • Create an affinity group to co-locate a set of applications from your cloud project

This will be available thru the developer portal in April.

Microsoft is also adding a Service Management model. The model include the topology and size of your service, the resources it relies on, the health constraints as well as configuration settings.

Manuvir reiterated that Azure will be commercially available in 2009.

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