Today, during a keynote speech at the Microsoft Professional Developers Conference 2008, Ray Ozzie, Microsoft’s chief software architect, announced Windows Azure, the cloud-based service foundation underlying its Azure Services Platform, and highlighted this platform’s role in delivering a software plus services approach to computing. The Azure Services Platform is an industry-leading move by Microsoft to help developers build the next generation of applications that will span from the cloud to the enterprise datacenter and deliver compelling new experiences across the PC, Web and phone.
|Ozzie described how this platform combines cloud-based developer capabilities with storage, computational and networking infrastructure services, all hosted on servers operating within Microsoft’s global datacenter network. This provides developers with the ability to deploy applications in the cloud or on-premises and enables experiences across a broad range of business and consumer scenarios.||
A limited community technology preview (CTP) of the Azure Services Platform was initially made available to developers in attendance at PDC2008, giving them a chance to try out its features and functions and plan for their own future development.
“Today marks a turning point for Microsoft and the development community,” Ozzie said. “We have introduced a game-changing set of technologies that will bring new opportunities to Web developers and business developers alike. The Azure Services Platform, built from the ground up to be consistent with Microsoft’s commitment to openness and interoperability, promises to transform the way businesses operate and how consumers access their information and experience the Web. Most important, it gives our customers the power of choice to deploy applications in cloud-based Internet services or through on-premises servers, or to combine them in any way that makes the most sense for the needs of their business.”
Empowering Cloud Development With the Azure Services Platform
Unlike many of today’s service-based solutions, the Azure Services Platform provides developers with the flexibility and ability to create applications while taking advantage of their existing skills, tools and technologies such as the Microsoft .NET Framework and Visual Studio. Developers also can choose from a broad range of commercial or open source development tools and technologies, and access the Azure Services Platform using a variety of common Internet standards including HTTP, representational state transfer (REST), WS-* and Atom Publishing Protocol (AtomPub).
Key components of the Azure Services Platform include the following:
- Windows Azure for service hosting and management, low-level scalable storage, computation and networking
- Microsoft SQL Services for a wide range of database services and reporting
- Microsoft .NET Services which are service-based implementations of familiar .NET Framework concepts such as workflow and access control
- Live Services for a consistent way for users to store, share and synchronize documents, photos, files and information across their PCs, phones, PC applications and Web sites
- Microsoft SharePoint Services and Microsoft Dynamics CRM Services for business content, collaboration and rapid solution development in the cloud
State-of-the-Art Datacenter Infrastructure
Microsoft also described the importance of building robust datacenters in delivering online services. Over the past year, Microsoft has opened major datacenters in Quincy, Wash., and San Antonio, with additional centers scheduled to open in Chicago and Dublin, Ireland. Microsoft is leading the way in services infrastructure with innovative use of shipping containers as flexible and portable housing for servers, providing 10 times the density and dramatic savings in power usage. Supporting the Microsoft software plus services strategy, Microsoft’s datacenters serve up e-mail accounts, Web pages, instant messages, photos, videos, software programs and search information to millions of Internet customers worldwide.
Cut Costs and Unlock Innovation
Services technologies, when employed alongside other core technology enablers such as virtualization and modeling, will result in dramatic benefits for customers’ IT departments. Specifically, these technologies will enable a new and more dynamic world, where IT departments can drive down operating costs, focus their spending on systems that differentiate the business, and ultimately enable IT to become a more strategic asset.
“Only a few companies in the world can bring the promise of cloud computing to reality, and we are excited about the strong capabilities of the Azure Services Platform,” said Paul Farrell, senior vice president of research and development for Epicor Software Corp. “We believe that Microsoft’s initiative and leadership in software plus services will be beneficial to Epicor customers as we architect our solutions to optimize for cloud and on-premises solutions.”
Providing Businesses Choice and Flexibility Through Software and Services
Microsoft’s service offerings also include Microsoft Online Services. These solutions deliver enterprise-class software as a subscription service, hosted by Microsoft and sold through partners. Microsoft services applications, including Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online, Office Communications Online and Office Live Meeting can be used as a complement to or in addition to on-premises software, enabling the power of choice depending on a customer’s IT strategy.