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@CloudExpo: Article

When Are We Going To Have an SLA for Microsoft Azure?

Microsoft should clarify better whether Windows Azure platform is a .NET platform or a “mixed” platform

Alin Irimie's Azure Blog

After more than two “azure” months, with lots of new stuff to learn, a whole new alphabet soup to digest and a dozen or so Microsoft evangelists trying to navigate us through the plethora of “cloud services” that seem to pop up every day from Microsoft’s software-making machine, I believe something is not right with with the way the information is presented to the public or with the overall Microsoft strategy. Let me explain.

First of all, everybody is using nowadays “cloud” to describe anything that runs on the web. Cloud is the new buzzword, and Microsoft jumping on the bandwagon doesn’t make things any better. Before Windows Azure release, it was simple to explain “the cloud” to any CEO - we had Amazon with storage and computing power, we had Google with their app engine and some other smaller “cloud computing” offerings. Everything else was SaaS - Software as a Service. After Windows Azure release, looks like everything Microsoft releases is a “cloud service” - Exchange, Sharepoint, Office, Live Services etc. - just adding to the confusion about what “cloud computing” actually is. I believe Microsoft should have come up with a different buzzword to describe their Software as a Service/Software + Services offerings, one word, not many.

Second, Microsoft should clarify better whether Windows Azure platform is a .NET platform or a “mixed” platform where legacy application can run. Also, when they advertise “Windows Azure is an open platform that will support both Microsoft and non-Microsoft languages and environments“, they should explain better what exactly it means - can I write Erlang code, deploy and run it in the “cloud” or it means that I can access the services from outside the azure cloud? Every time I’m asked to recommend a “cloud” solution for a software application, I struggle with finding the answers to basic questions. Before scalability, reliability, and security, there are more basic questions that need to be answered and Microsoft doesn’t make it any easier. See, it is much easier to pitch an Amazon solution and easier for a CIO/CEO to understand.

Third, Microsoft needs to let us know at least the year Windows Azure will be released. When are we going to have an SLA. Also, please update the case studies on the windows azure website, because believe it or not, people look at them. It will be interesting to see the evolution of the showcased services, because without any updates they are just proof of concepts, evangelism material Microsoft created. And most important thing is - let us know which Microsoft products are using Windows Azure as a platform and how is it used - because unless Microsoft is using their own services, I cannot recommend the platform to anybody (lessons learned from .NET 1.1 release).

As I said, I have a bad feeling about Windows Azure. I’m not sure what it is but there’s something missing, something is not going right with it. Hopefully this new year will bring us some clarity in the clouds.

More Stories By Alin Irimie

Alin Irimie is a software engineer - architect, designer, and developer with over 10 years experience in various languages and technologies. Currently he is Messaging Security Manager at Sunbelt Software, a security company. He is also the CTO of RADSense Software, a software consulting company. He has expertise in Microsoft technologies such as .NET Framework, ASP.NET, AJAX, SQL Server, C#, C++, Ruby On Rails, Cloud computing (Amazon and Windows Azure),and he also blogs about cloud technologies here.

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Most Recent Comments
Matt Rogers at MSFT 04/29/09 10:18:40 AM EDT

Alin, the points you are making are very reasonable, and are largely due to being a service in Community Technology Preview (CTP) rather than a launched service. Unfortunately some of your questions we are not able to answer while still in this mode, but will be resolved as we reach commercial availability later this year.

1) Is Windows Azure a .NET only platform? No, we have committed to opening the platform to most programming languages over time, meaning you will be able to deploy it and run it in our cloud, and also access the services from outside the cloud as you describe above. We took initial steps on this last month with the implementation of FastCGI and support for PHP. This was a step forward, but not the end. More on this later in the year. You can read a recap of where we are now on programming language interoperability in Windows Azure from Steve Marx at http://blog.smarx.com/

2) What year will Windows Azure release? 2009, late in the year. We have not backed down on this, no hedging...we will be commercially available by the end of this year.

3) When are we going to have an SLA? In just a couple months, we have said it will be "this Summer" and we are standing by that.

4) When will we update the case studies on the Windows Azure website? By commercial launch this year, probably much sooner. We are focused on building guidance around the service with the full features and capabilities that will be released later this year rather than the more limited CTP functionality.

5) Which Microsoft services are running on Windows Azure? All online services from Microsoft will move to Windows Azure, and the migration process is underway. We started this project for our own internal services, then added another dimension of making the service available commercially. We will talk about which services have moved later in the year and use our own learnings as case studies including the challenges and benefits we derive.

Matt Rogers
Windows Azure Product Marketing

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