A couple of days ago I posted a blog entry about a conversation I had with someone about a new way of working, and the fact that this was a cool thing. In the midst of the conversation, I mentioned an iPad – a computing tablet from Apple. Now, I’ve taken my shots at Apple in the past (all in fun), but it should be kept in mind that Microsoft is one of the largest sellers of software on the Mac platform (Microsoft Office) and has several hundred Apple developers here in Redmond – more than many shops around the world. I’m actually still registered as a Mac Developer, from my days when I did that sort of thing. I’ve used just about everything from PIC systems to OS9, OSX, Linux, Sun, Tru64, just about any OS in mass production. I even owned an Amiga!
But someone took issue with my statements. One of the responders to the blog said that “that Azure stuff” wouldn’t run on an iPad, but this gentleman got a little mixed up on his information. As I teach my daughter, if you’re willing to learn, even your critics can be a great ally, even when they are wrong. What I derived from this person’s general statement was something the way I think a lot of people might think right now – that things made by Microsoft are only for Microsoft technologies, Apple things run only on Apples and so on.
But the cloud is more – much more. It’s the whole promise of being platform independent that I like. Sure, you can code things running SilverLight or Flash that won’t run on an iPad, but that’s not an artifact of Windows Azure – it’s a front-end design choice. If you code your application correctly, it can run anywhere. And you can even code Windows Azure in PHP, Java, or C++ if you want. It’s just back-end stuff – the front end is up to the developer.
So knowing that we’ll have this perception going forward, I put my money where my mouth is. I won a contest not long ago that gave me some money. So I took that money, drove to an Apple store, and bought – an iPad. That’s right, I’ve joined the “cool kids” in owning one, which I’m sure will shock some folks. It’s an interesting little device, and makes a decent enough web browser, but I doubt it will be my primary computing device any time soon. But I bought it with one thing in mind: I’ll demo Windows Azure on it.
There are lots of sites using Azure right now – one of them is NASA. They federate the Mars rover data (for free) using Azure. So I logged in, signed up, and hit the site – notice the platform for the data: http://pinpoint.microsoft.com/en-us/applications/nasa-mars-exploration-rover-mission-images-12884902246
From there, I opened – gasp – a Windows Azure platform-based site on an iPad – here’s the proof:
So does Azure “run” on an iPad? No! The point is, it doesn’t have to – the application runs on Azure, and the data is delivered to a web browser. The front-end of the application is truly separated from the back-end, so that I am indeed platform-independent, at least on this application.
As time goes on, I plan to write an application (and blog about it) that uses Windows Azure, Blob Storage, Table Storage, Queues, the App Fabric, and SQL Azure, as well as a local SQL Server database. I’ll explain what I’m doing, what I learn – warts and all – as I go. And I’ll also make sure it works on my new iPad.