Microsoft is clearly a serious player in the cloud computing arena. As per Microsoft, Interoperability is central to their cloud services. Interoperability has been defined by Microsoft's Bob Muglia simply as being the connection of people, data and diverse systems. In February 2008, Microsoft announced four new interoperability principles of Ensuring open connections Promoting data portability Enhancing support for industry standards Fostering more open engagement with the industry, including open source communities, around interoperability and standards issues.
Actions based on these principles have and are being implemented in the four current Microsoft Cloud Services - Windows Azure, Microsoft SQL Azure, Windows Azure platform AppFabric & Dallas. Let us look at them one by one from the viewpoint of Interoperability.
Windows Azure allows developers to use both Microsoft languages & development tools such as .NET (Visual Basic, C#), C++ under Visual Studio as well as open source technologies such as PHP, Ruby, Java & Python (with community SDK's also for the first 3 languages) under Eclipse for building applications. These applications run on Windows Azure as well as consume their offerings from any other cloud or on premise platform.
Open connections and data portability are supported in Azure via usage of industry standard protocols such as HTTP, XML, SOAP & REST. Solution Accelerators are also available for Open Source technologies such as Memcached, Tomcat, MySQL-PHP & MediaWiki- MySQL.
Microsoft cloud data services (Windows Azure tables, Microsoft SQL Azure Database, etc.) expose data using REST conventions followed by ADO.NET Data Services, which enables interactions via XML with data from hosted cloud services. For PHP, a SQL CRUD Application Wizard as well as SQL Server Reporting Services SDK are also available. Windows Azure Platform AppFabric has two components - Service Bus for application & data connectivity & Access Control for Federated Authorization. Service Bus supports REST and HTTP Access from non-.NET platforms & Access Control uses various open industry standards & protocols such as REST, SAML, OAuth, OpenID & WS-* standards.
Microsoft also has interoperability projects in the identity space with Information Cards using WS-* protocols for C, Java, Ruby on Rails & PHP . AppFabric also has SDK's for Java, PHP & Ruby. Dallas has support for Open Standards such as REST & ATOM 1.1. Besides the above 4 existing Cloud Services, all existing Microsoft products will have future cloud versions and will also follow the four interoperability principles above.
Also, Microsoft has several initiatives within the Industry Ecosystem consisting of Key Customers and Other IT Industry Suppliers :
Created the Interoperability Executive Customer (IEC) Council consisting of 35 customers who have identified 7 interoperability focus areas called as work streams with Cloud Computing being of them.
Contributing to the cloud incubator project at the Distributed Management Task Force (DMTF) an open consortium to address management interoperability for cloud systems.
Co-founded the Simple Cloud API project with Zend, IBM, Rackspace & others to focus on open source cloud interoperability & drive software portability for and awareness of cloud application services.
Created the Open Government Data Initiative (OGDI) that uses the Windows Azure platform to make it easier to publish and use a wide variety of public data from government agencies exposing data over HTTP using RESTful services.
Interoperability does seem to be key strategic attribute in Microsoft Cloud Services.
Microsoft Windows Azure
Microsoft Tech Ed 2010 Top Architect Contest - Kaytek Director Mr. Mahesh Khatri once again selected as One Of Top Software Architects in India. Kaytek Director Mr. Mahesh Khatri is 1st runner-up winner at Microsoft Tech-Ed 2009 Top Software Architect Contest. The solution involved Microsoft's Cloud Computing - Windows Azure OS & Services Platform.
Moving from Microsoft .NET to Azure Cloud Platform
Customer Question - We have several websites, one portal and few web applications in the group. All have different needs. We have a Microsoft exchange server and few other web servers hosted outside. All these severs are hosted in a US data center and are being managed by our own team remotely. All applications developed using Microsoft technology asp.net.Our Disk Space is 100GB, Monthly BandWidth is 350-400 GB at current usage and SQL Database Size (including all databases)is currently 37 GB Occupied but we shall need 100 GB in the future. We like to discuss the benefits,feasibility,maintenance queries of shifting to a cloud platform for our various websites and applications. We also request for a telephonic consulting session to understand the following :
Various aspects of cloud services.
How can we move our various servers and web application to the cloud.
Advantages of having cloud as compared to normal hosting.
Procurement of the best cloud services as per our technical requirements.
Advantages and disadvantages of the cloud.
Answer - Whether the cloud would be beneficial to your websites & applications would depend on the following busness and technical factors :
Current Volume of Traffic in terms of various metrics (page views, unique visitors, size of data processed, geographic spread of visitors, etc).
Current Website Hosting Charges (Fixed and Variable)
Current Website SLA (Service Level Agreements) Parameters
Future Expected Annual Growth in terms of traffic metrics mentioned above
Current Technical Architecture of your Microsoft .NET based websites / applications & future enhancements.
Based on a study of your data, we shall estimate monthly Microsoft Cloud (Azure) costs as per their current pricing based on your current workloads and estimated future workloads. You will then need to compare the minimum cloud costs at current pricing to your existing US hosting inrastructure monthly costs (without the Exchange Server Costs).
Kindly note the following important points :
Currently Azure costs may seem quite high as compared to other competitive US hosting providers. As Microsoft Windows Azure technology matures, prices will come down.
The costs are for USA/Europe, Asia costs may be higher. (Your different web properties may have a different geographic spread of visitors).
Currently, Microsoft offers a SLA (Service Level Agreement) only if you deploy 2 reserved instances. The above pricing is for only 1 reserved instance. In case you want 2 reserved instances, it will cost more.
Your ASP.NET applications architecture may have to be suitably modified for the Cloud for long term optimization.
We suggest that ONLY IN CASE your current hosting costs are similar to the above or are higher AND your current web hosting quality / scalability is not as per your expectations, then you should look at cloud more in detail. In that case, a detailed study be done independently for each of your different properties as their needs are different.
One long term advantage of moving to the cloud would be that your own team can save time on web hosting management and perhaps focus on other tasks. The same would have to be quantified as long term cost savings.
Another advantage of the cloud would be geographical distribution. e.g. in case your web properties visitors are not from the USA, then Microsoft offers you a choice of hosting your web properties in different global locations e.g. Singapore for Asia Pacific customers.
The release of their Windows Azure Operating System for the Cloud Platform as well as the Model Driven Development - Oslo Platform is in line with their earlier stated twin objectives of providing world class development tools to software vendors for both on-premise and hosted applications. Application Software vendors now have an additional Cloud Computing platform in addition to the earlier launched Amazon Web Services and Google Application Engine Cloud Computing Initiatives. Kaytek has attended Microsoft's Briefing Session for their partners on their Cloud Based Offerings - BPOS - Business Productivity Online Suite in Mumbai. Since Microsoft already has a substantial presence in the Desktop Arena both for Application Development Tools and End User Office Productivity Software Solutions, they have a tremendous edge as compared to other vendors. Familarity of User Interfaces amongst End Users and Extension of Integrated Software Development Suite Knowledge amongst programmers will help overcome the leap from on premise to hosted solutions.
Microsoft Cloud Computing Azure Platform went commercially live in 21 countries including India from 1st February 2010. (6th February 2010 )
Microsoft's Azure Software is a new Operating System for Cloud Computing. It promises a completely new development environment for a cloud computing infrastructure running applications using Microsoft & other technologies. At the Professional Developer's Conference PDC 2008 , Microsoft had initiated serious moves in the Cloud Computing World.