What is Windows Azure?

 Jul 15th, 2009 

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Just found a nice video describing what Windows Azure is.

I already explained what Azure is a previous post, Windows Azure Application Architecture, but I find this video funny and interesting.

PS: Sorry but this post is not XHTML valid :( I haven’t managed to embed the object in a proper way. Does anyone have a suggestion of how to correct this?

Azure Pricing Revealed

 Jul 14th, 2009 

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Today, at PDC, Microsoft announced the pricing for Windows Azure, SQL Services and .NET Services. The business model is the one described in the table below:

Windows AzureSQL Azure.NET Services
Compute: $0.12/hourWeb Edition (up to 1 GB relational database): $9.99Messages @ $0.15/100K message operations , including Service Bus messages and Access Control tokens
Storage: $0.15/GB storedBusiness Edition (up to 10 GB relational database): $99.99
Storage Transactions: $0.01/10K
Bandwidth across all three services will be charged at $0.10/GB in and $0.15/GB out

Windows Azure compute hours are charged only for when your application is deployed so while developing and testing your application you may want to remove the compute instances that are not being used to minimize compute hour billing. Windows Azure storage is metered in units of average daily amount of data stored (in GB) over a monthly period. Storage is also metered in terms of storage transactions used to add, update, read and delete storage data. These are billed at a rate of $0.01 for 10,000 (10k) transaction requests. Bandwidth is charged based on the total amount of data going in and out of the Windows Azure platform services via the internet in a given 30-day period.

Microsoft Partners receive an additional 5 percent promotional discount on Windows Azure compute, SQL Azure and .NET Services.

A more detailed description on the pricing model is available on the Windows Azure Blog.

GeekMeet Brasov #1 – Cloud Computing

 Mar 29th, 2009 

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DISCLAIMER: This post contains Romanian words – sorry for those who do not understand them.

Yesterday I attended the first GeekMeet presentation from Brasov, Romania. It was pretty exciting because I was one of the speakers.

My general impression about this event was good. The organizers did their job well, with little mistakes – mistakes are inevitable for the first event :). The presentations were nice too; there were six:

  1. Mihai Gheza – “SEO Kung Fu”geekmeet_logo
    He told us about SEO and what can we do to improve it.
  2. Victor Hurdugaci – “Cloud Computing – Lumea din nor”
    My presentation.
  3. Maria Diaconu – Agile, Scrum, XP
    A 30 minutes workshop about the basic idea behind Agile methodologies.
  4. Claudiu Gamulescu – “eCommerce – Analiza de Criza”
    A presentation about the effects of crysis on electronic commerce
  5. Vlad Georgescu – “Design Related”
    Some general design related topics. Actually this presenation started an intresting debate about speculation and employment.
  6. Bobby Voicu
    Bobby’s presentation did not have a name. I will copy what Mihai said, Bobby’s presentation was a “friendly preaching”.

Mihai already uploaded his presentation. When the others will follow him I will update their links.

My presentation can be downloaded by click the following link: cloud-computing-geekmeet-2009-03-28. It is about cloud computing, mainly focused on Microsoft Windows Azure. Because there were no feedback form – unfortunately  – I want to ask my visitors who attended the presentation to give some feedback (as a comment or by e-mail at contact [at] victorhurdugaci [dot] com).

I am still waiting for pictures. When some will be available I will upload them here.

See you on GeekMeet Brasov 2 (April 25 – same place, same hour).

New Windows Azure Features (March 2009)

 Mar 19th, 2009 

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Now that Mix09 is talking place we have a lot of nice announcements from Microsoft. I want to focus this post on the new Azure features, SDK and Visual Studio Tools that have been released a few hours ago.

For those who don’t know, Windows Azure is the Microsoft’s cloud operating system. It is an operating system that runs in the cloud and only in MS’ data centers so don’t bother asking how can you install this new OS because there is no way you can do it. If you want more details about cloud computing and Windows Azure join my live presentation on GeekMeet Brasov on March 28 (it’s a presentation in Romanian).

Let’s see what new goodies are in the March release:

First of all there is support for FastCGI which allows developers to deploy and run web applications written with 3rd party programming languages such as PHP.  This provides developers using non-Microsoft languages the ability to take advantage of scalability on Windows Azure. Also the IIS URL Rewrite Module has been enabled.  URL rewriting, a feature often used by FastCGI developers, enables the creation of URLs that are easier for users to remember and easier for search engines to find. The Visual Studio Tools for Windows Azure includes a FastCGI Web Role that creates a Web Application project tailored to make it easier to configure, run and package a FastCGI application.

Geo-location provides developers with the ability to specify a location for their applications and data to build responsive services with lower network latency as well as the capability to meet location-based regulatory and legal requirements. Until now there were Azure data centers only in the north western United States but now you can also choose the data centers in south. Some officials from Microsoft said that “Going forward, we plan on expanding our presence to more locations, especially outside the U.S”.

One of the great things about Windows Azure is that it handles the deployment, monitoring, and management of your service so that you have more time to focus on the business logic.  Until recently, realizing these benefits meant your code had to run under Windows Azure partial trust, a code access security (CAS) level which locks down certain .NET functionality. Windows Azure now offers the option of running the code in your Web and worker roles under full trust.  This unlocks a number of compelling scenarios such as:

  • Invoking non-.NET Code: Many developers have existing investments in native code or may choose to use native code for some specialized tasks.  .NET full trust makes it possible to use native code via spawning processes or Platform Invoke (P/Invoke).
  • Using .NET Libraries that Require Full Trust: Certain .NET libraries, including libraries in the .NET Services SDK, require full trust and can now be used in Windows Azure.
  • Inter-process Communication via Named Pipes: If you application spawns processes, you can communicate among them via named pipes.

However you must be aware that the Full Trust is not really Full Trust :) There are some obvious limitations like writing to registry and writing to the file system. These limitation might not be that obvious when programming against the local development environment.

Least but not last, even though it was not officially announced, I think there are plenty of bug fixes and other nice things.

The SDK and Tools for Visual Studio can be downloaded from the following links:

Windows Azure Tools for Microsoft Visual Studio (March 2009 CTP) – now include the SDK
Windows Azure Software Development Kit (March 2009 CTP) – if you don’t need the Visual Studio Tools