Well folks I’ve been greeted with the news that Microsoft Windows Azure will be in 2 geo-replicated places here on Australian soil, coming ‘shortly’.
As an Azure MVP & from Breeze (a leading Microsoft Cloud Partner) perspective we invest heavily in cloud technologies.
What does this mean and why should I care? I hear you ask… good question and I asked the same.
As most of you know I have a passion for Integration, sticking all sorts of things together from small RFID devices, hand made hand-held devices, raspberry PIs through to high end ERP, Financials & many other types of systems. So before I get to the WHY aspect, let me briefly set the context.
There’s some great data coming out of Gartner a report which caught my eye - http://searchsoa.techtarget.com/news/2240173583/Gartner-Better-collaboration-for-new-era-of-application-integration came out with these:
- Integration Costs to rise by 33% by 2016, more than half of new system development costs will be spent on Integration
- By 2017, over two-thirds of all new integration flows will extend outside the enterprise firewall.
So Integration just took on a whole new face – successful integration is about using the right tools (in the toolbox) for the right task. Now we have a whole new drawer in our toolbox full of Azure goodies & widgets. This functionality is just too compelling to be ignored….
…and now that it’s on Australian soil I’d be thinking that just about every Data center service provider should be giving you cloud functionality.
Some quick cloud advantages:
- scale, provisioning and ease of use
- Imagine being able to spin up a SharePoint site in the time it takes me to write this article.
- Imagine being able to ask for an extra load balanced highly available Server/Service at the click of a button. Importantly – Imagine being able to give it back again at the end of the weekend/day/next hour.
- Not wait the typical 12 weeks for a new server to be provisioned, oh and dont mention filling out the right forms. Running an application on those machines and getting a firewall port opened….that’ll be another 2 weeks…and on it goes.
- The much beloved Enlightenment for many companies of achieving Single Sign-On – Imagine your customers being able to sign into your applications using their own Ids, Live Ids, + a bunch of other Ids without you needing to provision more services. You can house your identity accounts in Azure, locally or elsewhere – finally you don’t need a Quantum Analyst to setup Single Sign-on.
- My experiences in the last few weeks on client sites have been back in the world of old – classic encumbered infrastructure service providers wanting to claim everything, put the brakes on any new ideas and have meetings around such concepts of adding an extra 10gb disk space to existing servers. These guys should be ‘can do’ people – it’s all about choosing the right tool for the job.
- Microsoft have done a great job on the developer tooling front from the classic MS toolset through to Apple, PHP, Ruby, Phython etc. all being able to access, develop on, publish and deploy.
- We could even give a bunch of HDD drives to Olaf (our gun cyclist @ Breeze) to ride to the Azure Data Center and offload our data, while we wait for the NBN to never come to our area.
- There are some great options on the horizon coming down the track.
So let’s say we’re keen to explore – how hard/easy is it to get ‘my’ own environment & what does this mean.
The short answer is you get an Azure Footprint which could be running in a ‘Data Center’ in Sydney. Depending on what you’re playing with you could get:
- SQL Databases, Cloud Services, Scalable Mobile Device Services, Load balanced Websites/Services/Restful endpoints…and the list of ‘widgets’ goes on and on.
How do I interact with this environment:
Often the issue around alot of this is that because my beloved ‘servers’ are running somewhere else I’m concerned over how much control we get.
We enter into the Hybrid Integration space – where as you can imagine not *everything* is suited for the Cloud, there will be things you keep exactly as they are. So there will be many many scenarios where – we have something running locally as well as something running in Azure. Some options we have available are to make our servers ‘feel at home’:
- VPN connection – we can have several flavours of a VPN connection that connect our Azure Footprint to our local network. for e.g. local network is 10.10.x.x/16, Azure network 10.50.x.x/16. Full access to all the machines/services and other things you have running. CRON jobs, FTP, scripts, processes, linux boxes, samba shares, etc etc.. (I do realise the integration world is never as easy as we see it in the magazines)
- RDP Connections – standard level of service really from any Service provider.
- Remote PowerShell Access
- Azure Service Bus - Applications Level Web/WCF/Restful Services connectivity. An Application Service can run either locally or in the cloud and this feature allows your Service to be accessed through a consistent Endpoint within the cloud, but the calls are Relayed down to your Application Service. There’s a few different ways we can ‘relay’ but the public endpoint could house all the clients & their device requests, while your existing application infrastructure remains unchanged.
- SQL Azure Data Sync – sync data between clouds & local from your databases. So for many clients, come 8pm each day, their local database has all the Orders for the day as per normal, without the usual provisioning headaches as the business responds to new market opportunities to support smart devices.
- We even get pretty graphs….
- But wait there’s more…..
- These details are typical performance monitor counters + diagnostic information. We can use Azure Admin tools to import these regularly and import them into our typical tools.
- System Center does exactly this – so our ‘dashboard’ of machines will list our local machines as well as our cloud machines. Your IT guys have visibility into what’s going on.
We’ve been using Singapore DCs or West Coast US with pretty good performance times across the infrastructure.
What does having a local Windows Azure Data Center mean to me:
- Medical Industry – we have several medical clients allowing us to innovate around Cloud technologies using HL7 transports. Faster time to market and higher degrees of re-use.
- Cloud Lab Manager – www.cloudlabmanager.com can run locally for all training providers. Breeze has created an award winning cloud based application that will certainly benefit from this piece of great news.
- Creating a cloud based application is now feasible (this particular one was due to the sensitive nature of information it carried)
- And lastly I can house my MineCraft server – well it’s my 10 yr old sons and half the school I reckon.
So for you…
Ask yourself the question – are you getting all these features from where you currently host/run your hardware?
Lack of infrastructure and provisioning challenges shouldn’t be holding back new ideas & business movement. iPads, smartphones, anywhere, any time access should be the norm, not like we’re putting another person on the moon.
It’s all about using the right tool for the job
Enjoy folks as it’s certainly exciting times for us Aussies ahead!!