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At Provoke we are fortunate to have some of the world's leading experts in Microsoft technology. Whether you want to know the latest in SharePoint and Office 365, understand the changing world of Unified Communications, or gain insight into the Cloud and Windows Azure, this is where to get it. Our News is the place to find the latest events, blogs and articles from the clever monkeys at Provoke and our partners.

admiring azure
May 28, 2013

Windows Azure: Microsoft’s Open, Flexible and Rock Solid Cloud Platform

​​​​​​​​​In New Zealand, Microsoft has seen considerable growth of its public cloud platform, Windows Azure. The initial uptake came from startups and ISVs, and now there is considerable growth in the enterprise as well. Microsoft is in the unique position in the industry to be able to offer solutions to all these types of companies because of our investments in both traditional on-premise server products as well as in the public cloud.  Class leading products such as Windows Server, System Centre and SQL Server have helped Microsoft rapidly build Windows Azure.  Innovations we have built in Windows Azure to deliver self-service and resilient platforms that span across a global data center footprint are helping to shape and innovate our on-premise servers.  We refer to this virtuous cycle conceptually as the “Cloud OS”, you may have recently heard us talk about this vision and the recent innovations we have delivered as part of the journey to the Cloud OS with both Windows Server and Windows Azure.  We are not stopping here, in fact we are just getting started. ​

If you are not yet familiar with our offering, Windows Azure is Microsoft’s public cloud platform composed of several services that allow you to build and run your solutions in the cloud.  The services are inherently resilient and scalable with financially backed SLA’s.  Your applications use these services and your developers needs to build less and not be concerned about scale and resilience​–that’s the platform job.  The result – you get things done faster, applications are less complex and easier to maintain and faster to change.  Having a great platform that reduces application complexity is great but you are probably thinking that comes at a considerable cost.  Well it doesn’t – this is internet scale and cost is low due to two factors.  The first is scale – the Windows Azure datacenters are massive and this means that the cost of the servers in them, the power and cooling used, their placement on the internet grid and in eco-friendly locations is all optimized and you get to benefit from that scale through cheap computing.  The second big factor is that you only pay for what you use, you are not committed to anything, and you can elastically turn up and down the resources you are consuming. 

Microsoft recognizes that there are concerns about using Public Clouds.  Where is the data held, who can get access to it, how is it secured, amongst other.  Microsoft is taking a leadership role in ensuring full transparency in our work around security, privacy and compliance with Windows Azure.

You might be thinking of course because Windows Azure is from Microsoft, that you need to be a .NET developer.  We think you should be :) and we think we have the best, most productive tooling, languages and frameworks in .NET and Visual Studio.  But, we are not the only game in town and many of our customers use multiple languages, open source technologies and frameworks.  We have made big investments in ensuring our platform is open and flexible, empowering teams to choose the framework, tools, operating system and architecture for their application, whether they are building applications for the cloud or moving applications to the cloud. Windows Azure supports the development languages and frameworks you want to use, including .NET, Java, PHP and Node.js, and you can develop for Windows Azure on your Windows, Apple and Linux machines.

The most recent update to the services offered by Windows Azure made the platform even more flexible, open, and easier to use. To complement our Cloud Services Platform-as-a-Service offering, we have introduced this year Infrastructure-as-a-Service capabilities, including Windows Azure Virtual Machines for Windows and Linux-based applications, as well as the Windows Azure Virtual Network to securely link Windows Azure virtual machines together or with on-premises networks. We have delivered a new low cost and flexible web site hosting feature called Windows Azure Web Sites which enable developers to quickly and easily deploy web sites with support for multiple frameworks and popular open source applications.  New services or improvements to existing capabilities are being delivered all the time.  The depth and breadth of the capabilities now offered in Windows Azure is quite staggering, enabling a wide range of application scenarios and workloads to be supported.

We have high profile customers currently running solution on Windows Azure, including MYOB, Fujitsu, easyJet, and Nasa. Locally we have growing number of New Zealand companies running their businesses on Azure like GreenButton and iTicket - we have put together The New Zealand Windows Azure Application Showcase booklet containing a subset of case studies for your review.

In our journey to the Cloud OS, it is an important step to start to bring together the innovations we have talked about so far.  Windows Azure Virtual Machines is one step in this direction making it possible to run and manage VMs in the same way in your data center or in Windows Azure with no lock-in.  You really can upload a VM to Windows Azure and run it there and decide in the future to move it somewhere else or bring it back on-premise – it’s your choice.  Another recent step we have made is to start to deliver some of the innovations in Windows Azure for our Windows Server customers.

In short, Windows Azure enables Kiwi companies to focus on helping deliver innovative business solutions by reducing the cost and complexity. We look forward to seeing your application on Azure!

By Thiago Almeida - Technical Evangelist, Microsoft

Thiago Almeida is a Technical Evangelist at Microsoft New Zealand, with over ten years of experience working as a solutions architect and technical leader with a proven track record in designing and delivering solutions in the Asia Pacific region. Along with promoting Microsoft developer platforms he focuses on three specific areas: Software startups, Independent Software Vendors (ISVs), and Windows Azure.​