In the Architecting Solutions for the Cloud session, Clemens provided an introduction to the .Net Service bus. For those not familiar with the .Net Service Bus it is essentially an Internet Service bus that allows you to exchange information with other parties using the Cloud as an intermediary. Another way of thinking about it is building a bridge between two islands, only the islands in this case are applications. The real power of the .Net Service bus are the WCF based relay bindings. These bindings allow endpoints to make outbound connections to the Bus and then listen for messages. This makes punching holes in your Firewall a task of the past. Very Cool!!! As mentioned on my Day 1 blog there are a couple new features as part of the March CTP that allow for more capabilities in the bus including Routers and Queues. Look for more information on this in my upcoming Day 4 blog.
When prompted for a comment about private clouds, the response was a very clear in that it is not going to happen anytime soon. The reason for this is that to build up your own "private" cloud would be too cost prohibitive. People shouldn't underestimate the complexity involved in building such an elastic, dynamic platform like Azure.
The second half of the session dealt more with deploying your Web Applications to the cloud. People have been hosting their web applications with Application Server Providers for years, what is the difference with Azure? Having the ability to efficiently scale would be an answer that I would have. If you had a viral marketing project underway and you were not sure just how much bandwidth, or processing power, that you are going to need then having an environment like Azure that can scale your app in minutes is a great option. The other thing to consider is that you can scale you application tiers independently. By establishing Web and Worker roles you can allocate resources to serving pages versus doing the back ground work. So if you were doing a lot of number crunching in the back end and the Web Requests were lightweight you can configure your application to suite your needs. I doubt that there are very many ASPs that can provide you this type of granularity.
In the demos they showed how easy it was to work with the local Azure Dev Fabric and then how easy it was to deploy to the cloud. I would expect to see some more tooling around this experience that allows for scripted deployments plus some delegated administration in the cloud. Currently, the developer working on the cloud application is the only one who can deploy the project to the cloud. Obviously this methodology would not fly in many corporate environments, but this is something that they are aware of and have on their task list to work on.
When working with ASP.Net web apps, be sure to use ASP.Net Web projects instead of ASP.Net Web Sites if you have plans of deploying them to the cloud. The Cloud does not support the "Web Site" flavour.
Here are some upcoming dates to look for albeit they are not "solid" at this point:
- Pricing - August 2009
- Reliability/SLA - shooting for August 2009, but may slide
- Launch - targeting PDC time frame release (November 17th - 20th 2009)