Microsoft Windows Azure: Microsoft’s efficient contribution to the Cloud computing trend

Microsoft has announced its upcoming product Windows Azure an year ago. The term cloud computing does not need any introduction now, as its being heard all over the internet due to its efficient architecture though some doubts are raised over its reliability.

Microsoft Windows Azure

Windows Azure is a cloud computing platform from Microsoft that will help you host your Microsoft and Non-Microsoft based web services. The service will enable you to deploy your application onto the cloud and run it on Azure. Now this is not the only reason Microsoft will want you to use their service. There are a variety of features that can let you make your web service better and more efficient in terms of online productivity as well as your business.

Now how exactly is Azure going to help you in increasing the efficiency of your service? Well, the answer lies in the flexibility. The ability to scale computing and storage according to traffic makes the service cost reasonably low. Being a web developer I understand that some hectic parameters of developing a web service should not be my priority.

1) Storage

2) Network consisting of Load balancers, DNS and what not.

3) Scaling geographically distributed traffic.

And some how I see that not considering these parameters is going to make my applications face regular break downs or more severe consequences. And eventually these parameters over-shadow my top priority – “My Application”.

Windows Azure is an Application centric cloud computing platform, that will not only consider the web developers application life cycle but also relive him from the worries of storage, scaling and networking. Windows Azure takes care of it all.

The process is made simpler like this:

1) You develop your application and deploy it onto the cloud.

2) Monitor and Scale it on the Windows Azure platform.

3) Also analyse your application at work, and develop a better version and deploy it back to the cloud without facing any down-time.

Windows Azure basically consist of 3 main components. The “Fabric” which includes the many computers running virtual machines that run Windows. Next is the “Storage” service which helps you manage all your data in a reliable and scalable way. And the final component is the “Developer Experience” which includes a package of the two prior components and all the APIs in the cloud, added in a Visual Studio integration and delivered as a SDK which can be downloaded for Free and run on your desktop. This just enables you to develop and test your application locally before deploying it to the cloud.

But this is not really what excites me about Windows Azure. The best feature is the unique Windows Azure model that lets you pay for “Only what you need! Only when you use it!”. Lets consider this with an example.

Webservice Graph

When I design my application and host it onto the internet, the traffic visiting my service for the first few weeks increases gradually, lets say 50 hits a week. While within the next few weeks traffic doubles to 100 hits a week and the graph increases exponentially considering the unique features my application provides. Within 2 months I see my application getting a traffic at a peak of 500 – 700 hits a week.

Webservice Graph

This trend is common among all web based applications. So when I host my service for the first time, I’ll be wasting my bandwidth capable of 500-700 hits a week. This is where the flexibility of the Windows Azure model comes handy. I can scale the hosting capacity according to my needs as and when I need. Which will save me a huge sum, and i’ll have to stop worrying about my peak. 😛

For more information on Windows Azure for developers visit : http://dev.windowsazure.com