I just watched the Windows Azure intro video and it left me feeling like it was a front end shell for hosted IIS instances. Can anyone who know more (possibily that was part of the beta) shed on why you would use this vs. EC2.

it seemed easy enough but really didnt give specifics on how it works, why it works or why you would use this vs the traditional solutions out there?

+2  A: 

Well it's more than just web services. It will also allow you to host other types of connected applications. Plus it provides integrated access to other MS software on the cloud; i.e. SharePoint, Exchange, CRM, SQL data sevices, and will allow you to fully customize and extend those offerings in the same way that you would be able to customize and extend them if they were hosted on-premises.

+1  A: 

At this point, information on Windows Azure is pretty scarce. I was in the keynote during the announcement, and my best guess at this point is that they're trying to provide a more extensive virtualization environment than simply hosted IIS instances.

At this point, though, I can't say more than that.

Greg D
+21  A: 

According to the vision (and I can only talk about the vision here since the product isn't really out yet), here's a couple of reasons you might consider Azure over EC2.

Azure includes built-in load balancing abilities. If you want to do that in Amazon, you have to roll your own solution or buy a third-party solution like

Azure-friendly-coded apps can be delivered internally or in Microsoft's cloud. If you write apps that have confidential information like financial data or health care data, not all of your clients will be willing to put their data in the public cloud. In that case, they can deploy your apps internally on Windows. That's sold as a skillset win, because you can go from public to private projects. Don't get me wrong - if you master Amazon EC2 development, then you can deploy your apps internally with Linux virtual servers in your datacenter, but it's not as turnkey. (Hard to describe a tech preview as turnkey when it's not licensed yet, hahaha.)

Having said that, it wasn't clear that the load balancing functionality is included in the box with internal deployments. If you have to do a combination of Azure plus ISA Server, that'll be a tougher deployment and management sell.

Brent Ozar
thanks for the feedback. It wasnt clear from the parts that I read that this is going to be internally deployable. thats a good thing. It's very exiting to see something like this.
As of right now, Windows Azure is not internally deployable. It's a fully hosted solution. However Microsoft has announced that some of the tech developed for Azure will filter down to the commercial versions of Windows.
Mike Brown
AWS now offers Elastic Load Balancing product, so LB is not an issue anymore with it.
@Mike Brown - Not True. You can have an app on the cloud and use an internally stored version of SQL Server
@Ritu - the term "internally deployable" means you can run it internally in your company. You cannot run Windows Azure in your own datacenter.
Brent Ozar
@Brent Ozar - Agreeed, BUT you can run an app in the cloud that accesses internally stored data.
@Ritu - In order to support this scenario, you have to expose your database externally. I'm not going to talk about the security concerns that raises. Over-looking that scenario the question was if Windows Azure is internally deployable. Windows Azure currently is not.However, as the original answer mentions, there is a lot of overlap between creating an application for internal deployment and for Windows Azure deployment.
Mike Brown
+2  A: 

My company is using Amazon EC2 now and I am down at the PDC watching the details on Azure unfold. I have not seen anything yet that would convince us to move away from Amazon. Azure definitely looks compelling, but the fact is I can now utilize Windows and SQL server on Amazon with SLAs in place. Ray Ozzie made it clear that Azure will be changing A LOT based on feedback from the developer community. However, Azure has a lot of potential and we'll be watching it closely.

Also, Amazon will be adding load balancing, autoscaling and dashboard features in upcoming updates to the service (see this link: Never underestimate Amazon as they have a good headstart on Cloud Computing and a big user base helping refine their offerings already. Never underestimate Microsoft either as they have a massive developer community and global reach.

Overall I do not think the cloud services of one company are mutually exclusive from one another. The great thing is that we can leverage all of them if we want to.

Microsoft should offer up the ability to host Linux based servers in their cloud. That would really turn the world upside down!

thanks for the feedback. i know that amazon is here today, but invariably we have to build for what will be here in 6-18 months given that moore's law always marches forward.
+1  A: 

We use S3 for storage very successfully and I've always kept an eye on EC2 for Windows and SQL Server support. So now these are available I dug further.

I was pretty worried when I read this:

Perhaps, as we're developing what will hopefully become a very popular website, we should be considering the new data store models - Azure's or Amazon's SimpleDB. Hmmmmm - complete rewrite!

+2  A: 

At the Archtect Insight Conference last year they mentioned that they have started to alter core server products to deal with the large scale failover environment which is very interesting to me at least.

Its bunch of stuff that is coming into the Cloud. I think of this as more of Platform in the Cloud.

  • Sql Server
  • CRM
  • MOSS
  • Exchange
  • BizTalk
  • Geneva (identity)

The terms that are mentioned here are "STORE" and "COMPUTE"

For me this get really intersting around the IDEA of a Internet Service Bus.

It is also about moving to the development workflow process too.

  • OSLO DSLs and Qudrant - Moving to a Model Driven View
  • Entity Framework - giving developers strong typed model in code at a click of button
  • ADO Data Services and Data Dynamic Webtemplates using MVC
  • Then with the Azure Templates and the new "WebRoles" moving to deployment of the applications to the Cloud.
  • Then for the Admins one click provisioning of servers is awsome.

On the Data Privacy Rules... which is the one big elephant in the room and has been mentioned... Typically there is the often a ruling in each Country about information security.


US Patriot Act

Are these really conceptully different? And these 2 countries do share information anyway...IMHO (legally they are different, but to a customer both laws give access to customer data its just question of who)