During the key note address at Tech Ed ME 2011 in Dubai yesterday, I was asked by a Microsoft customer: “What is Windows Azure?.” I then realized that we, at Microsoft, may not be doing as good a job as we should in getting the word out and this is where the idea for this blog post came about:
I label is “Part 1” because no single blog post can explain it with merits in one shot so more to come on the subject. Let me first tell you “some” of what Windows Azure is NOT. It is NOT the next version of Windows Client (Windows 7) and it is NOT the next version of Windows Server (2008 R2) either. It is, however, the Microsoft Cloud Operating System.
Now, I do not want you to think that it is something you can install off of a DVD on some super-duper hardware that would give you a Cloud in a box with an OS on it – this is NOT the case either. The Platform as a Service pillar of the cloud is powered by Windows Azure which basically provides the dynamics for compute, storage, networking, and fabric power that can give application users a never-fail experience. Not because applications “never” fail but rather because the end user experience is so magically managed where they do not experience the failure. That is what we want and that is here already. The magic of Windows Azure is its ability to manage other hardware and software resources in such a seamless and controlled way where OS patching, scaling, servicing is happening in a way that has no impact at all on the users of the applications and not much on the administrators of the application either. It is much similar to you and I not worrying or evening caring to know how Windows 7 manages the memory resources and allocations to all the open applications we have, Windows Azure manages that and way much larger units/components of the cloud without us worrying or even caring to know (well, unless you are a techno-geek, I will tell you more about that in future posts).
So in a nutshell, and for now, just remember that Windows Azure is the cloud OS that provides compute power, storage, network, monitoring and servicing of existing workloads, scaling up and out of server resources, among other things, to give the admin and the end user a seamless application experience regardless of the workload while taking into accounts the massive economics that the cloud brings.
In future posts, I will go under the “hood” of the Windows Azure platform to talk about the fabric that glues many of these services together.