Microsoft Windows Azure Pack Enables Modern App Development

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2013-08-21

Microsoft Windows Azure Pack Enables Modern App Development

Microsoft is doing all it can to help customers enable modern applications on the Microsoft platform—both cloud and on-premise.

In an Aug. 21 blog post, Brad Anderson, Microsoft's corporate vice president of Windows Server and System Center, goes into detail on just how Microsoft is enabling modern applications with the Windows Azure Pack.

Microsoft announced the release of the second version of its message broker for Windows Server, Service Bus 1.1 for Windows Server, and in this release, "we have invested in an integrated experience as a part of the Windows Azure Pack v1, with the goal of bringing a self-service tenant experience that is similar to the one that currently exists in Windows Azure," Anderson said.

"A major benefit of the Windows Azure Pack is the ability to build an application once and then deploy and operate it in any Microsoft Cloud—private, hosted or public," Anderson said in his post.

Windows Azure Pack for Windows Server is a collection of Windows Azure technologies, available free to Microsoft customers for installation into their data centers. It runs on top of Windows Server 2012 R2 and System Center 2012 R2 and, through the use of the Windows Azure technologies, enables enterprises to offer a self-service, multi-tenant cloud, consistent with the public Windows Azure experience. In short, the Windows Azure Pack is a set of capabilities that Microsoft has battle-hardened and proven in its public cloud.

Modern apps, also known as "Metro-style apps," adapt to the needs of users by exchanging data with other apps as needed and by providing personalized experiences, natural user interactions and social connections from an array of device types that cloud services support. Four of the biggest trends influencing demand for modern apps are the increasing number of people getting connected to the Internet, the number of devices being used to display and track data, the exponential increase in data volume, and the variety of data from new data types.

The key to Microsoft's modern app strategy is that the company delivers the same end user experience in the cloud as on-premise, Anderson told eWEEK.

"One thing we do differently is we deliver a consistent set of capabilities across private, hosted and public cloud scenarios," Anderson said. "This gives organizations the ability to develop for a public cloud without being locked in. They can do things in Windows Azure and bring that to Windows Server."

Microsoft focused on sharpening three core scenarios with the Service Bus 1.1 for Windows Server and the Windows Azure Pack v1, including improving application messaging patterns with the Service Bus, he said. "With Service Bus, we support basic as well as advanced messaging patterns for use in modern applications. With this release, we've also added new messaging capabilities, additional protocols and simplified APIs to enable developers to write better applications faster," he said.

Microsoft also improved management of messaging entities across clouds, "Whether you're developing for the public cloud, private cloud or a hosted cloud—with your service provider, developers will be able to write applications once and then use it anywhere within these clouds—without needing to recompile, Anderson said. "This can be done by simply changing an entry in the configuration file.


Microsoft Windows Azure Pack Enables Modern App Development

Microsoft also offers alternatives with Service Bus. “Whether you are an Independent Software Vendor developing software and services for others, an enterprise which deploys home-grown applications, or a developer looking for an easy to deploy messaging component, you can use Service Bus in your topology,” Anderson said. “With this release we’ve improved the hosting capabilities for enterprises and service providers enabling new hosting topologies.”

Anderson said Microsoft itself uses Service Bus “pretty extensively in the apps we build internally.” Indeed, the Halo 4 game uses Windows Azure Service Bus, as does Windows Azure billing service and SharePoint, he said.

Service Bus supports three communications protocols: Service Bus Messaging Protocol (SBMP), Advanced Message Queuing Protocol (AMQP) and HTTP/HTTPS.

With the release of Service Bus 1.1, Microsoft made AMQP 1.0 support available in Service Bus. “Adding the support for AMQP 1.0 messaging protocol enables our customers to experience messaging in new ways,” Anderson said in his post. “One of the key new scenarios enabled in this release is exchanging messages between applications written in multiple platforms running on multiple operating systems.”

At the beginning of his post, Anderson said his message is “critically important” for both developers and IT pros. “Why is it so important for IT Pros to understand how modern applications are built?” he asked “The answer is simple: IT Pros are the ones who build and operate the infrastructure that hosts these applications, and, the more you know about how these applications are built, the better you will understand their platform requirements. That’s the tactical reason. There is also a strategic reason. If your organization is not already in the process of defining it’s cloud strategy – it soon will be. You need to be a contributor and leader in these conversations. By mastering today’s topics, you can become a part of the conversation and define the long-term solution, rather than someone who is simply reacting to decisions they were not a part of making.

“The future of the IT Pro role will require you to know how applications are built for the cloud, as well as the cloud infrastructures where these apps operate, is something every IT Pro needs in order to be a voice in the meetings that will define an organization’s cloud strategy. IT pros are also going to need to know how their team fits in this cloud-centric model, as well as how to proactively drive these discussions.”

This kind of flexibility enabled with Windows Azure Pack means developers can build an application, initially deploy it in their private cloud, and then move that app to a Service Provider or Azure in the future. “Making tasks like this simple is a major part of our promise around cloud consistency, and it is something only Microsoft (not VMware, not AWS) can deliver,” Anderson said in his post. “This ability to migrate an app between these environments means that your apps and your data are never locked in to a single cloud. This allows you to easily adjust as your organization’s needs, regulatory requirements, or any operational conditions change.”

Moreover, this capability has been one of the single largest differences in separating Microsoft and its cloud strategy against that of Amazon Web Services and VMware, which are the two competitors Microsoft watches most closely, Anderson said.

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