The Microsoft Professional Developers Conference started on Monday at the Los Angeles convention center. The big announcement is the release of the Azure Services Platform. Microsoft described it as the operating system for cloud applications. What is a cloud application you ask? Well it’s an application that is running on a layer of computers on the Internet. The computers are spread all over the world. They are very powerful, they are secure and they are fault tolerant. If you wanted to create your own powerful and highly available cluster of computers it would be very expensive. What Microsoft did was create the infrastructure and they allow anyone to upload their applications and have them run on their cloud.
Most small web sites do not require the resources that are made available on the cloud. Web sites that get a lot of traffic could benefit from this new service. Say you have a web site that will sell tickets for a popular concert. On average your web site can be run on a single server. Now let’s say you are about to offer tickets for a very popular concert. You expect there to be millions of attempts to purchase tickets and you will need hundreds of servers to carry the load. Taking advantage of a cloud service would be an inexpensive way to allow your application to function during the period of peak activity. The day before the tickets go on sale you could go to your application configuration on the cloud and easily increase the number of computers your application runs on. There is no need to purchase extra computers, configure them to work together, deploy your application to all the computers. The cloud takes care of this for you.
One cool feature Microsoft showed at the conference was the ability to publish a web application to Azure directly from Visual Studio. It was no different than publishing to an FTP site or the local file system.
The Azure service is still in its infancy. Microsoft is not charging for the service and they have a long list of feature they plan to add. It will take several years before hosting applications on the could will become mainstream but will happen sooner or later. Microsoft has taken the first steps to become a leader in this field and I’m sure they will prosper from it.
SoftCom Technology Consulting Inc.