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Azure Commercially Available from November

Microsoft Set To Announce at PDC This Year

Microsoft is set to deliver Windows Azure to the public by the end of this year, with an imminent announcement at Microsoft’s Professional Developers Conference (PDC) in Los Angeles on November 17, 2009.

When Steve Ballmer mentioned this February that Windows Azure “will reach fruition with the PDC this year” I didn’t really believed it, considering where the product was and how much we knew about the progress Microsoft was making on delivering Windows Azure and related services. Even TechEd this year was surprisingly quiet about Windows Azure, but this is just the silence before the storm. Microsoft is revving up the software development and marketing machine so at this year’s PDC cloud computing and Windows Azure will take again center stage.

Starting this summer with the 2009 Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC), New Orleans, July 13-16, we will see more and more announcements about Windows Azure. So what to expect in the next months? Lots of things.

It is expected to have the pricing of Windows Azure announced by the end of July (maybe at WPC) when an invitation only CTP will be available for early adopters of the platform. Microsoft has a pretty decent size team of people watching the pricing across full spectrum of cloud providers, and they promise that you wouldn’t be shocked when you’ll see the prices. I’m sure pricing will be competitive. Together with the pricing, Microsoft will also reveal Service Level Agreements (SLA) for Windows Azure services. Talking about money, Microsoft is working on a payment service, similar (more or less) to Amazon’s DevPay, to make it easier for developers to charge money for services hosted in the cloud. I really hope something like RequesterPays+DevPay will be available at launch.

Windows Azure will continue to be updated every two to three months, expect this pattern after release as well. Also, Windows Azure will have much more features by the end of the year than the CTP.

Microsoft is already working with lots of customers, setting up and helping them moving applications to Windows Azure, documenting the process, so by the end of the year, after release, we will have quite a few case studies we can learn from. Also, there’s going to be much more documentation on MSDN and samples with source code on CodePlex.

Shortly after taking the product to the market, Microsoft will reveal a certification process for applications running on Windows Azure. At the same time, the new Windows Azure Marketplace will be released, which is geared at helping connect buyers and sellers of services or software designed for Windows Azure.

Microsoft is also moving some of its internal applications to the new platform, testing it internally, some of the applications will be available to outside world after PDC. We hear that some of the Live services (live ID, messenger) will be some of the first services to move to the new platform.

If you are using Windows Azure today, you probably noticed that most of the deployment and configuration tasks for your application is done through a web interface. By the time Windows Azure will be released, a new set of Management APIs will be available so third party companies can write tools helping you easily manage your piece of the azure cloud.

There are a few books we know about Windows Azure that are in the works, some of them due to be released before PDC, in October (although they might be pushed to be released just after Nov 11).

  • Cloud Computing with the Microsoft Azure Services Platform (Roger Jennings, Wrox, Oct ‘09)
  • Programming Windows Azure (Sriram Krisnan, O’Reilly, Jan ‘10)
  • Pro Azure Services Platform (Tejaswi Redkar, Apress, Oct ‘09)
  • Introduction to Windows Azure (Henry Li, Apress, Oct ‘09)

Lots of interesting stuff to be expected this summer and beyond. With Microsoft emerging as one of the leaders in the cloud computing arena, with enterprises, governments and developers changing the way they think about software and services, we should expect lots of companies moving at least partially if not completely to the cloud. Like Ray Ozzie, Microsoft’s Chief Software architect put it the other day, “at some point in time every major enterprise, every company, every ISV is going to have some blend of software that runs on-premises and some that runs in the cloud, and everyone wants tools that they can use to in essence deploy some apps to part of their organization that might be in the cloud, another part of their organization that might be on-premises, to do that on an application by application, or region by region, or program by program basis“.

Will it be a smooth ride? We’re about to find out.

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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.