Seminar: Windows Azure launch

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On Thursday, June 7, 2012 I attended Meet Windows Azure, a promotion of Microsoft’s cloud computing platform. Azure has been in development for several years now. Azure is an Infrastructure-as-a-Cloud, which provides servers that run Microsoft web technologies such as ASP.NET and Windows instances. It also provides platform services such as SQL database, Hadoop, and Windows enterprise identity. In addition, they announced for the first time in this event support for Linux servers as well as supporting Node.js and PHP.

This particular event is designed to attract local customers. Given that the local venue has limited space, the venue was located at a small movie studio and the front-facing street in the Mission. The event was scheduled with lunch, four hours of seminars, and a party afterwards.

The main selling point of Windows Azure is its integration into Visual Studio. The goal of the integration is to allow developers to focus on building applications, not configuring the infrastructure. This contrasts Amazon AWS, which provides a web control panel as the main entry point. (For that matter, Salesforce and StackMob both provide web control panels.)

Windows Azure has also adopted widely-deployed industry technologies such as REST, JSON (JavaScript object notation), Memcache, and GitHub. This appears to be a shift in strategy from a pure Microsoft-only technology stack.

A new marketing strategy taken by Amazon AWS, Azure, and others is to provide the cloud services for free. Once the product is successful, then payment is made to continue using the service. This model of income differs from the traditional buy-then-use sequence.

The event also showcased two case studies where companies integrated Azure. Pottermore fan site is the main product running Azure. Twilio promoted their technology in conjunction with Azure, but they could easily have shown the same integration with AWS or hosted website.