Ch … Ch … Changes in the Cloud!

Wow!

You take a few months break from teaching cloud computing and when you come back to it things are not the same. Most notably, there are several significant new features in Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure.

Let’s first take a look at Azure.

The Management Portal has completely changed. It now has a clean new look that gives clear access to all of the Azure services. Notice all the additional services that are now available beyond the basic cloud services, database, storage and service bus.

Figure 1. Azure Management Portal

It is nice to see that Microsoft have addressed the needs of people who want to just host a simple web site on Azure. This was not very cost effective using cloud services but now up to 10 web sites per region can be deployed for free using the Azure web sites service. There is also a smaller sized SQL database available for $5 per month which may be adequate for such applications.

For me the other exciting development is Business Analytics as a service. A key component of this is SQL Reporting. The SQL Reporting service looks to essentially be SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) in the cloud. At $0.16 per hour per deployed report server instance it is still a little expensive (imho) but is significantly reduced from the astronomical $.88 per hour it was previously. Business Analytics also includes an implementation of Hadoop which is going to very accessible and familiar for .NET developers.

The Amazon Web Services Management Console has also had a facelift.

Figure 2 AWS Management Console

Several services have been added including Redshift for data warehousing and OpsWorks for application management. Glacier, which is now several months old, offers a very cost effective solution for archiving. Just last week Amazon announced the ability to now copy Machine Images (AMI) from one region to another. This is a great enhancement and is something I have been wanting for a while. Certainly this opens up many options for high availability and disaster recovery solutions that span regions and not just availability zones.

Constant change is the nature of cloud computing. That definitely makes keeping up on the technologies a challenge. I look forward to getting back to teaching it now for a while. I am currently on the schedule to teach our Introduction to Cloud Computing course in April and June and our Amazon Web Services course in April and May. Why not consider joining us for one of those sessions?

Kevin Kell

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