Microsoft have been offering their Azure Platform as a Service (PaaS) for some time now. This provides an elegant deployment environment for applications developed to take advantage of the scalable features Azure provides. Developing Web applications requires the application to be packaged in Web Roles, with heavyweight computation assigned to Worker roles. I mention this because these are new terms to .NET Web application developers and therefore a new skill set is required. Moving existing applications to Azure requires at least some modification to a traditional .NET Web application. Further, once deployed to the Azure platform, although running on IIS, IIS is not visible to users of Azure – no configuration is allowed. I am utterly convinced that this approach, whilst elegant, has had a significant impact on the rate of adoption of Azure.
A recent announcement from Microsoft has now changed this. They are offering two new things. Firstly, Microsoft are to provide elevated privileges for Azure with full IIS. This means that developers and administrators with greater flexibility. For example, it will enable the deployment of multiple IIS sites per Web role as well as the ability to install IIS modules. This will certainly make Azure more attractive and cost effective.
Secondly, Microsoft have announced a new role, the VM role. The aim of this new addition is to make migrating existing applications to the cloud easier and faster. Developers can upload their existing applications to a VM role, maintain total control whilst gaining the advantage of Azure’s load balancing and elastic scaling. A new costing model has also been introduced by Microsoft, enable virtual machine instance sizes to be selected. For example an extra small instance starts from $0.05 per hour up to an extra large instance at $0.96 per hour.
With these new offerings, Microsoft has now not only continued to offer Azure as a PaaS, but also with the VM role entered the market for Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and the domain of Amazon EC2. It will be interesting to see how the functionality evolves over the coming months.
If you are interested in learning more about Cloud Computing and the solutions offered by major provider such as Microsoft, Amazon, Google etc, why not come along to the Learning Tree Cloud Computing course. If you are sure Azure is for you, learn the details of how to extract the maximum by attending the Learning Tree Azure course.