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I wrote this short article for the 27th of January edition of the  UK MSDN Flash newsletter. I thought it would be useful to sneak it in here as well especially as it will be the basis of a number of upcoming blog posts – probably about seven of them  :-)

Seven things that may surprise you about the Windows Azure Platform

January 2010 is when the Windows Azure Platform for Cloud Computing moved from beta to live. We have three services live and already serving applications developed in the UK:

  • · Windows Azure – Compute and storage in the cloud (Your code and data)
  • · SQL Azure Database – Relational database in the cloud. (Your relational data)
  • · AppFabric – Firewall friendly messaging between cloud and on-premise (Your messages)

You can now run applications for your end users entirely inside the Windows Azure Platform using some or all of the services. You can even build hybrid applications which are a mix of on-premise and “in the cloud” (Software + Services). But the best bit is the skills you already have are the skills you need to build for the Windows Azure Platform. The UK Windows Azure Platform site is a great place to start exploring Azure but I thought it would be fun to peak your interest with seven less well known facts.

Azure is not just about “the next twitter”

Much has been written about the “elasticity of Cloud Computing”, the ability to run an application on one node and then one hundred nodes in response to increased load. Azure is great at this but it can also be perfect for much more “humble” applications. For instance you can provision yourself a highly available SQL Azure database in a few minutes to build your next departmental class application – for less than £10 per month.

You can build applications for the Windows Azure Platform using C++, Java, Ruby, PhP...

Initially all code needed to be written in a .NET language and run in partial trust. However we now enable full trust and support C++, Java, Ruby, PhP. We even support MySQL.

The Windows Azure Platform is still free to try

You can develop for Azure locally on your own machine using Visual Studio 2008 or 2010, the Azure SDK and SQL Server 2008. When you decide to deploy your application you can take advantage of the “Introductory Special” of 25 hours of free compute resource per month plus 500MB of storage and a 1GB SQL Azure database. If you are an MSDN Subscriber you can get a whopping 750 hours.

There are hundreds of great tools for Azure

Take a look at the Azure projects on CodePlex, fire up your favourite SQL Server tools (as many work unchanged with SQL Azure), spin up Visual Studio or check out new commercial tools such as Cloud Storage Studio and Gladinet Cloud Desktop to see just how rich a development system is already in place.

SQL Azure works with Integration Services, Reporting Services and Analysis Services

Existing SQL Server tools can be used against SQL Azure, even sqlcmd and bcp!

All your data is replicated many times to offer high availability

Data stored in Windows Azure Storage and SQL Azure databases is stored as multiple copies to enable high availability and allow the services to better balance load. Every time you create a SQL Azure database you actually get three. Not bad for less than £10 per month!

A Windows Azure Storage account can store up to 100TB of data

A single block blob can be 200GB and a page blob can be 1TB in size.

Posted on Monday, February 1, 2010 1:33 PM Cloud Computing | Back to top

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