The Platform-As-A-Service solution from Microsoft
Windows Azure is a service that allows the execution of applications and data storage in the Microsoft’s Cloud. This platform provides a runtime environment (Windows Azure) and a service pack (SQL Azure, Windows Azure AppFabric) that can be used together or independently.
Microsoft and the Cloud Computing
Cloud Computing means using (massive) amounts of I.T. resources presented in a virtual environment and accessible via the Internet. These resources are allocated on demand, most of the time in real time, and provided on a pay-per-use or subscription offers.
The available services available in the Cloud are:
- Sofware as a Service (SaaS):
Providing applications that can be consumed directly online.
For example, Office 365, the online Microsoft Office suite, or Google Apps.
- Platform as a Service (PaaS):
Providing environments for deploying applications independently of the base infrastructure.
For example, Windows Azure and SQL Azure platforms or Google App Engine hosting Java and Python.
- Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS):
Providing a complete IT infrastructure in the way colloc or virtualization works.
Unlike Amazon, Microsoft does not offer this service (yet).
Windows Azure, the heart of the PaaS solution from Microsoft
The Microsoft Windows Azure environment allows the creation and management of working instances ; each of them being dedicated to a specific role. Those instances are based on the Microsoft Hyper-V technology and Windows Server 2008 R2 kernel.
Those instances provides hosting not only to .NET applications but also to Java, PHP or C++ based codes.
Management related services are available to those solutions. Including load balancing, secured access (SSL) and remote access (Remote Desktop). There are several available instance configurations, from “Extra Large” to “Extra Small”. Every configuration have a specific billing.
The SQL Azure environment is a RDBMS, based on SQL Server 2008, hosted in the Microsoft Cloud and available both from the Windows Azure environment and the remote private corporate IT. VPN access secure connexions from the private enterprise infrastructure.
Windows Azure AppFabric is a service bus that allows communications between various applications using the Web Services technology. This service bus is available from the Windows Azure and the Internet authorized applications. A grant control system, dedicated to AppFabric, manages accreditations.
Offers and Pricing
The Microsoft Windows Azure solution is based on the Windows Azure, SQL Azure and AppFabric services. Microsoft proposes deals that provide these services individually or in combination. The Windows Azure service pricing is based on the power consumption ; the more you use it, the more you pay ; a bit like MVS/DB2 works… The SQL Azure pricing is defined according to the database numbers and size you require.
For a “stable and regular” environment, Microsoft proposes a Windows Azure subscription at 42.52€ per month, an SQL Azure subscription at 53.15€ per month and a joined Windows + SQL Azure subscription at 77.98€ per month. To encourage adoption of Windows Azure, Microsoft proposes free trial subscription of those services.
For more details, see the Microsoft Web site: Windows Azure : Types de tarification et offres
That’s All Folks!
NB: Those are my personal thoughts based on what I read from Microsoft’s website and various Internet news articles about Windows Azure. Don’t take it for granted and contact your Microsoft reseller, should you be defining your company directions ;-)