“New in Azure.” is a phrase I seem to be repeating a lot lately. Azure is constantly changing, evolving and getting better. The name has even changed from Microsoft Azure to Windows Azure. IaaS has been added. I recall last March I was doing a presentation to a medium sized audience. I had rehearsed my presentation the night before and during the presentation, an attendee asked me about running Oracle in Azure. I had heard the Microsoft and Oracle were partnering to try and make things easier for customers but I thought they questioner in the audience was pulling my leg. Really? Oracle on Microsoft Azure? When I logged in and showed the gallery, there they were. A series of Oracle instances ready to provision. They weren’t there the night before. So I used it as an opportunity to do two things:
- I told the audience that even one of Microsoft’s biggest competitors in the enterprise space has recognized the value of Azure and chose to be part of something that is growing rapidly.
- I told them that this is yet another example of how quickly things can evolve in the cloud and more good things were on tap soon.
I’m thankful that I was able to think quickly on my feet. Of course it was all true. And even more so now. There are new things arriving in Azure all the time. While I was at TechEd in Houston last month there was a series of new items announced in the Keynote. I can’t cover them all and frankly I’m not knowledgeable enough about them all to offer much insight. What I will do however, is let you know about two specific items that I’m excited about and the use cases that I see for them. If you want a complete list of the items announced you can find them in Scott Guthrie’s Blog.
Azure Remote App
The feature that I’m most excited about is Azure Remote App. Azure Remote App is very similar to Windows Remote App. It allows you to run an application on a server and access it through a thin client. From the perspective of the end-user the application appears to run as if it is installed locally but it is actually running on a server. Azure Remote app offers this functionality in a public cloud hosted environment with the option to run it in a hybrid model. The Azure based instance can still access on premise resources if you allow it to.
I’m excited about this for several reasons but mostly because it supports Android, iOS, Mac OS X and of course Windows based clients. I’m working with a lot of organizations that are experimenting with mobility solutions that include tablets and smart phones. This provides them a great opportunity to publish some applications with minimal provisioning requirements. They can pilot the application in Azure and either scale it out in Azure as needed or move it on premise for production.
You can try it out for free during the preview period. Let me know what you think about it.
Another feature that I’m excited about is called Hybrid Connections. Hybrid Connections allow applications running in Azure to access enterprise datacenter resources and services securely and easily without having to poke holes in firewalls or use a VPN. It relies on a BizTalk Service (available in the free tier too). Consider the scenario that I described for Remote App – This makes rolling out an application for mobile users that requires access to on premise resources much easier.
You can learn more about Hybrid Connections using the following links posted in Scott’s blog:
- Overview: Hybrid Connections
- How-To: Connect an Azure Website with an On-Premises Resource
- Tutorial: Connect an Azure Website to an On-Premises SQL Server using Hybrid Connections
- Tutorial: Connect an Azure Mobile Services .NET Backend to an On-Premises Resource using Hybrid Connections