Microsoft threw down the gauntlet today, right at the feet of Amazon’s AWS – launching a revamped PaaS offering, a brand new IaaS offering (run whatever you want in an Azure hosted image), and significant partnerships with ecosystem vendors that will add value to Azure and round out its value with Microsoft Azure customers.

Here is the quick run down on the new offerings:

A New Iaas Offering

  • All of the Azure SDK’s opened sourced under an Apache license and available on GitHub
  • Windows and multiple Linux distributions supported as IaaS guests
  • Everything in the management portal is also available via RESTFUL API’s and command line support
  • New VPN capabilities that allow you link private on premise networks with your instances in Azure to create a custom hybrid cloud environment
  • VM portability between your private data center and Azure via the VHD file format – no conversion or import/export required
  • Persistence storage with triple replicated data across drives
  • Built in monitoring for basic CPU, memory, network and disk metrics
  • Continuous geographic data replication across data centers built in with no configuration required
  • Partner solutions from RightScale, ScaleXtreme, OpsCode, AppDynamics, and New Relic
  • RightScale fully integrated with the new Asure Iaas API providing all of the RightScale features on the Azure platform

New “Web Sites” Offering

  • Build sites with ASP.NET, Node JS or PHP and host the economically on Azure (puts Azure into the web hosting business)
  • Popular web application available off of the catalog (like WordPress and other open source publishing platforms)
  • MySQL supported as a database, with a free MySQL subscription for each Azure subscription
  • Both scale out (more instances) and scale up (resources committed to instances) options available
  • Ability to move from shared instances to dedicated instances from within the Azure web portal

 New Cloud Services

  • Targeted at complex multi-tier applications with or without scale out requirements
  • Uploading of .NET, PHP, Node JS and Python packages supported
  • Completely automated network and security configuration
  • Network load balancing also automated
  • If an image crashes, it is automatically taken out of the pool and replaced with a new one
  • Source code control via the online TFS service
  • Custom monitoring metrics supported if you want to instrument your own application for business events or transactions
  • Ability to set custom scaling rules by each tier of your application
  • Support for a production and a staging environment so that you can push a new build into staging, route load to it, and then roll back if something is not right
Application Buidling Blocks
  • Big Data
  • Database
  • STorage
  • Traffic
  • Caching
  • Messaging
  • Identity
  • Media CDN
  • Networking
SQL Database as a Service
  • All clustering and availability included
  • Backup included
  • All patch management included
  • Pay by the size of the database
Blob Storage Service
  • High availablity and secure file system
  • Blobs can exposed over HTTP
  • Geo-Replication also supported in 15 minute time windows
Distributed Cache Service
  • Low latency in memory distributed cache
  • Dynamically grow and shrink cache size
  • High availability support
  • Memcached protocol support
  • Existing Memcashed code supported
Identify Service
  • Integrate with existing enterprise identity including Active Directory
  • Single sign on within application that span on premise and Azure application instances (hides application location from users)
Service Bus Service
  • Secure messaging and relay capabilties
  • Enables loosely coupled services
Media Service
  • Create and distribute content
  • Target and device or media format
MarketPlace
  • Allows third parties to offer services through the Azure marketplace
Global Offering
  • Azure now available in 89 countries

AppDynamics and New Relic Selected as Key Application Performance Management Parters

Continuing its tradition of leveraging ecosystem partners for mutual benefit, Microsoft has also struck partnerships with the two leading developer focused “APM 2.0″ solutions, AppDynamics and New Relic. What this means is that the ease of building and deploying applications on Azure is now combined with the ease of managing these applications with leading edge APM solutions. In particular, the AppDynamics offering is notable since the back end of the offering is hosted in the Azure cloud and the free version of AppDynamics is offered along with free trial .NET Azure instances.

More Information

You can watch recorded video of the Microsoft Azure announcement here.

Summary

Microsoft has thrown down the gauntlet right at the feet of Amazon and VMware. With this release Microsoft is bringing to the table its historical strengths in Windows, its on premise position with Windows systems and Windows applications, its ability to operate scale out data centers on a global basis, with a huge commitment to openness and heterogeneity. Amazon had better be very worried about how Microsoft is matching them service by service, and leveraging an on premise installed base set of assets that Amazon does not and will not ever have. VMware better be very worried that Microsoft is stepping up to run and offer its own cloud, putting the Microsoft brand, Microsoft’s reputation, and Microsoft’s financial resources behind an offering with which VMware has to rely upon far weaker third party cloud service providers to compete with.

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Bernd Harzog (332 Posts)

Bernd Harzog is the Analyst at The Virtualization Practice for Performance and Capacity Management and IT as a Service (Private Cloud).

Bernd is also the CEO and founder of APM Experts a company that provides strategic marketing services to vendors in the virtualization performance management, and application performance management markets.

Prior to these two companies, Bernd was the CEO of RTO Software, the VP Products at Netuitive, a General Manager at Xcellenet, and Research Director for Systems Software at Gartner Group. Bernd has an MBA in Marketing from the University of Chicago.

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