The PDC was full of proper geeks as I like to call them – people who write code and talk fluent machine language. i.e. not me…for us mere mortals I found David Chappel’s paper on Azure to be a good primer. In particular he captured well what the CTP offers – underlines are mine.
Windows Azure is a general platform that can be used in various scenarios. Here are a few examples, all based on what the CTP version allows:
- A start-up creating a new Web site—the next Facebook, say—could build its application on Windows Azure. Because this platform supports both Web-facing services and background processes, the application can provide an interactive user interface as well as executing work for users asynchronously. Rather than spending time and money worrying about infrastructure, the start-up can instead focus solely on creating code that provides value to its users and investors. The company can also start small, incurring low costs while its application has only a few users. If their application catches on and usage increases, Windows Azure can scale the application as needed.
- An ISV creating a software-as-a-service (SaaS) version of an existing on-premises .NET application might choose to build it on Windows Azure. Because Windows Azure mostly provides a standard .NET environment, moving the application’s .NET business logic to this cloud platform won’t typically pose many problems. And once again, building on an existing platform lets the ISV focus on their business logic—the thing that makes them money—rather than spending time on infrastructure.
- An enterprise creating an application for its customers might choose to build it on Windows Azure. Because Windows Azure is .NET-based, developers with the right skills aren’t difficult to find, nor are they prohibitively expensive. Running the application in Microsoft’s data centers frees the enterprise from the responsibility and expense of managing its own servers, turning capital expenses into operating expenses. And especially if the application has spikes in usage—maybe it’s an on-line flower store that must handle the Mother’s Day rush—letting Microsoft maintain the large server base required for this can make economic sense.
My underlines focus on the economics of Azure rather than the technical aspects and it’s these parts I hope the investor, VC, and even politicians look at more closely. If you want the next Facebook or YouTube built in your back yard and the good things that typically accompany such sites as those (further inward investment) it starts to make sense to understand platforms like Azure and Amazon Web Services. They’re the catalyst for a whole new era of innovation.