PDC 2009: Availability of the Windows Azure Platform

by Peter Galli on November 17, 2009 12:14pm

Ray Ozzie, Microsoft's Chief Software Architect, used the company's annual Professional Developers Conference here in Los Angeles to announce the availability of the Windows Azure platform.

That platform consists of Windows Azure, the operating system as-a-service, and SQL Azure, a fully relational database in the cloud. The Service Bus and Access Control services, formerly known as the .NET Services, now run directly within Windows Azure and are known as Windows Azure platform AppFabric Service.

Microsoft will continue to offer Windows Azure as a Community Technology Preview until the end of this year, after which it will switch to a production service under which Azure's cloud services will be made available to enterprises. But users will get a fee pass in January, since charges will only start accruing in February.

In his opening keynote, Ozzie also announced that a small number of customers will go into production today, including Automattic, Inc., the maker of WordPress, which is now live on Azure. Matt Mullenweg, founder of  Automattic, Inc., took the stage to demonstrate MySQL, PHP, and Apache support on Windows Azure, as well as to announce that his company is launching a new site that runs on SQL Azure.

Ozzie also used his keynote to made clear that reaching all developers was top of mind for Microsoft.

"To most developers, to developers like you, Windows Azure appears as a model based extension to Visual Studio, enabling you to build apps that leverage your skills in SQL, IIS, ASP.NET, and .NET Framework. Alternatively, and of course it's your choice, you might leverage your skills by using MySQL and PHP within Azure, or you might instead take advantage of our new Azure tools for Java and Eclipse. Reaching all developers is incredibly important to us," he said.

Windows Azure now supported any kind of Windows code and programming model, and any kind of multi-role, multi-tier service design pattern, supporting extremely flexible binding and arbitrary relationships between roles, Ozzie said.

"Because you wanted it, we've broadened far beyond just the .NET programming model, and the Web role, worker role service design pattern. We added support for FastCGI, enabling high scale Web apps to be written in any of a variety of programming languages. And, in sessions this week, you're going to see the Windows Azure team quickly building and deploying Java apps, running under Tomcat. You'll see PHP apps under MySQL," he said.

Earlier this year, Microsoft enabled .NET full trust and native code applications. This functionality allowed developers to spawn xcopy deployable processes.  As a result, Java applications can now be packaged and run.

Today, we announced that we are delivering a solution accelerator for Tomcat, an open source software implementation of the Java Servlet and JavaServer Pages technologies, as well as launching a Java SDK for Windows Azure Storage (tables, blogs, and queues). External endpoints (inbound traffic) to worker roles have also been enabled, which enables applications that receive internet traffic that aren't running under IIS.

During his keynote Ozzie also introduced Vivek Kundra, the Federal Chief Information Officer at the White House, who spoke via live feed from Washington D.C., and who encouraged developers to take advantage of the vast amount of public data to create applications using this new Microsoft technology.

"I'm really excited about what NASA is doing in cooperation with Microsoft with the launch of the Pathfinder Innovation Challenge ... anybody can participate and look at the data that has been democratized through NASA on the Azure platform, that allows people to look around the red planet, slice and dice, and cube, and create information, and advance our understanding of the universe," Kundra said.

This commitment to all developers is not new. When Ozzie first announced the Windows Azure platform at PDC last year, Sam Ramji blogged that developers will also be able to choose from a range of open source development tools and technologies, and be able to access Azure services using a variety of common internet standards, including HTTP, REST, WS* and Atom.   

"The Azure platform's goal is to support all developers and their choice of IDE, language and technology.  We are also providing programmable components that can be consumed by other applications, and Microsoft is funding and sponsoring open source software development kits to enable Java and Ruby developers to take advantage of Azure. This is significant as this is the first time we are delivering cross-platform software development kits at the same time as Microsoft Developer Network software development kits," he said.

And, earlier this year, Microsoft introduced the PHP SDK for Windows Azure, an open source effort for which Microsoft has provided funding, with development by RealDolmen, whose goal is to provide high-level abstractions that enable PHP developers to interoperate readily with Windows Azure.

The PHP SDK for Windows Azure focuses on REST and provides PHP classes for Windows Azure blobs, tables and queue, helper classes for HTTP transport, AuthN/AuthZ, REST and error management, as well as manageability, instrumentation and logging support.

Next up at PDC 2009 was Bob Muglia, President of Microsoft's Server and Tools Business, who noted that Microsoft is converging on a common developer platform for both servers and services, that 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 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.

In addition, Muglia announced the new release of ASP.NET MVC beta 2, a free, fully-supported framework that enables developers to rapidly build standards-based Web applications through rich AJAX integration and enhanced extensibility.

In other related news, SugarCRM, a provider of commercial open source customer relationship management software, today also announced that it will offer its CRM applications on Windows Azure to enable its customers and value-added resellers to benefit from the real-time scalability, high availability and on-demand infrastructure of Azure.

"With Windows Azure, Microsoft has built a true cloud computing platform going well beyond the simple hosted infrastructure that most service providers offer today. Windows Azure enables SugarCRM value-added resellers to create and deploy unique solutions for customers around the globe. This new service is another key component of the Sugar Open Cloud, the SugarCRM cloud strategy for delivering simple, affordable CRM anywhere based on customer need," said Larry Augustin, CEO of SugarCRM, in a press statement.

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