Microsoft last week announced the availability of the Windows Azure platform at the Microsoft Professional Developers Conference (PDC), describing it and SQP Azure as core elements of the company's cloud services strategy.
Ray Ozzie, chief software architect at Microsoft, also announced a set of new Windows Azure features, Windows Server capabilities, and marketplace offerings that will make it easier for developers to build profitable businesses from their Microsoft-based solutions.
“Customers want choice and flexibility in how they develop and deploy applications,” Ozzie says. “We’re moving into an era of solutions that are experienced by users across PCs, phones and the Web, and that are delivered from datacenters we refer to as private clouds and public clouds. Built specifically for this era of cloud computing, Windows Azure and SQL Azure will give developers what they need to build great applications and profitable businesses.”
Ozzie describes the company’s “three screens and a cloud” vision, where software experiences are seamlessly delivered across PCs, phones and TVs, all connected by cloud-based services.
Underscoring the IT industry’s shift toward a hybrid approach of online services combined with on-premises software, Ozzie describes the programming model for a powerful new generation of applications for both businesses and consumers, enabled by new Microsoft development tools and technologies. He also demonstrated customer and partner commitment to Microsoft’s development platform with Seesmic, WordPress and Cheezburger Network.
He also unveiled the next evolution of Microsoft Pinpoint, an online marketplace for Microsoft partners to market and sell their applications. The company introduced a new information service, Microsoft Codename “Dallas,” also available through Pinpoint and built completely on the Windows Azure platform, that enables developers and users to access premium commercial and reference datasets and content on any platform. Datasets currently available through “Dallas” include those from the Associated Press, Citysearch, DATA.gov, ESRI, First American, infoUSA.com, NASA, National Geographic TOPO!, NAVTEQ, RiskMetrics Group, the United Nations, WaveMarket . and Weather Central . “Dallas” is available as a limited community technology preview (CTP).
Bob Muglia, president of the Server and Tools Business at Microsoft, detailed the company’s strategy and road map for extending the Windows developer platform to the cloud, which is the next-generation application model, according to Muglia.
“Microsoft is converging on a common developer platform for both servers and services,” he says. “Through this convergence, Microsoft will enable developers to continue using familiar .NET Framework and Visual Studio tools and technologies, as well as third-party tools such as Eclipse, to create and monetize applications that run on the server and as services in the cloud.”
Muglia described Microsoft’s key investments to enable developers to move applications to the private, hosted and public clouds, enhance them with additional services, and transform them to take full advantage of capabilities unique to cloud computing.
As part of these key investment areas, Microsoft is delivering Windows Server AppFabric Beta 1, a set of integrated, high-level application services that enable developers to more easily deploy and manage applications spanning both server and cloud. The AppFabric technology combines hosting and caching technologies (formerly known as Microsoft code-named “Dublin” and Microsoft code-named “Velocity”) with the Windows Azure platform AppFabric Service Bus and AppFabric Access Control (formerly referred to as .NET Services). Together, these technologies deliver a consistent set of application services to enhance both Windows Server and Windows Azure with a common, scalable foundation for running .NET applications. Windows Server AppFabric Beta 1 is available for download today at: http://msdn.microsoft.com/appfabric with final availability in 2010. Additional CTPs of Windows Azure platform AppFabric technologies will be made available in 2010.
Muglia also announced the company’s plan to offer Windows Server virtual machine support on Windows Azure, enabling customers to more easily support virtualized infrastructure across the continuum of on-premises and cloud computing, and the release to manufacturing of Windows Identity Foundation, helping developers to provide more secure, simplified user access to both cloud and on-premises applications with open, identity-based claims.