With this launch we can say that the new Microsoft Windows Azure is the complete, comprehensive and versatile cloud offering. It’s just freakin-awesome!
First things first: The landing page on windowsazure.com and the management portal both are changed.
Landing page now looks like the below:
The Windows Azure Portal Page is new as well (you will have to click on the “preview portal” button at the bottom of the current manage portal homepage):
Ok, now over to the feature list:
First Big One is Support for Virtual Machines that you can create/ configure or upload. Finally, IaaS is now an offering on Windows Azure Platform. You can now easily deploy and run Windows and Linux VMs, yes even Linux VMs too. What this means is that you can have your own installations of existing SharePoint, SQL Server, Active Directory, MongoDB running CentOS Linux on the cloud and you can manage it on your own. You don’t have to now start thinking about re-architecting your application to fit the PaaS offering or constrain yourself with what is offered.
- You can create a VM by choosing from the image gallery of the Windows Azure Management Portal.
- Create the VM from VHD file that you already have on-prem with you. Upload and ask Azure to create a VM using your image. You can use CSUpload command-line tool to upload the VHD.
For a complete tutorial click here.
The Windows VM would include the Windows Server licensing cost. For Linux you would have to obtain the license and deploy it or you could use a partner solution (rightscale, juju etc).
If you already are under any EA agreements, then those licenses can be used. You will have to check License Mobility through Software Assurance on Windows Azure. I am personally not clear as to how the licensing cost will be adjusted in this case.
Web Sites: You can utilize services from SQL Database (or SQL Azure), CDN etc and deploy with *FTP*, Git and TFS. On Windows Azure *Web Sites*, you can *lift and shift* any existing web site (asp.net, php or node.js) and get it running. You could as well use open source apps like WordPress, Joomla!, Drupal, DotNetNuke and Umbraco. And to ice it, you can push directly from Git or TFS- totally automated deployment. And one more thing you have this nice dashboard where you can see all about the website usage! (see image below)
Cloud Services (This is PaaS as we know it):
- SQL Server database-as-a-service: A fully featured relational database, it’s called SQL Database (formerly known as SQL Azure Database).
- Tables: Same as before.
- BLOB: Same as before.
- Messaging: Windows Azure Service Bus and Queues
- Caching: CDN and Windows Azure Caching
- Virtual Network: Create a VPN (traditional site-to-site standard VPN) connection to connect between Windows Azure and Corporate VPN gateway. Using this you can even connect apps in the could with on-prem mainframe and unix systems
- Windows Azure Connect (same purpose as before)
- Traffic Manager (same purpose as before)
The list goes on and on, you can use Identity offering to connect to on-prem Active Directory to provide SSO for apps on the cloud. You can use Media Servies (PaaS) to encode, format, content protection and enable streaming capabilities, you have a holistic offering on Big-data.
All in all, with this release of Windows Azure, Windows Azure is the most comprehensive and holistic cloud offering ever. Be it building web-sites (using different languages, open source apps), be it using the VMs, be it using the Virtual Network to build Hybrid Apps, be it using SQL Database (on a VM) in the cloud. It all pans out and falls in place nicely! Great job done Russinovich, ScottGu and the *entire* team.