I recently wrote an article for DevelopMentor’s Developments newsletter entitled Azure Storage. Read it at the DevelopMentor website here:
I’ve republished here for my readers. Enjoy!
Developments: Azure Storage
by Michael Kennedy
[Listen to this article as a podcast: Azure-Storage-Article-Kennedy.mp3]
October 27th 2008, Los Angeles CA – It’s 9 AM and Microsoft is hosting PDC (their most forward looking developer conference). Ray Ozzie and company are introducing Windows Azure: A new platform which is their first foray into the nascent world of large-scale utility computing. This scalable and reliable platform-as-a-service functionality is commonly referred to as ”Cloud Computing” because it runs somewhere out there on the Internet.
Computing platforms that rival the reliability of the utility grids (e.g. electric and gas) which we daily take for granted have long been the stuff of dreams.
A few companies have realized this dream – Google and Amazon come to mind as a couple of the rare exceptions who have accomplished this goal. These companies’ web properties seem to handle unbounded amounts of traffic with zero down time. The data centers, redundancies, software engineering and operations know-how required to make this happen are exceedingly expensive. Some reports have Google spending over $2.4 billion (that’s 2,400 million dollars) on data centers in 2007 alone.
Prior to large-scale cloud computing efforts (circa 2005), most of us could only dream of such scalability and reliability. Today we have at least three highly reputable companies offering some kind of pay as you go cloud computing platform – Microsoft, Amazon, and Google.
Microsoft’s Azure is a new comer to the industry. But for .NET developers, it is not to be ignored. Azure allows you to use your existing skills to build essentially the same .NET applications you are familiar with and “deploy them to the cloud.”
These scalable, reliable, and geographically-replicated applications that run on Azure depend on data of course. Virtually all applications we write will be nothing without their underlying data. But if we simply use the tried and true methods of data storage such as the file system or a (single) database server our data is not all that scalable or reliable. Because we cannot have a scalable and reliable application without data, we need a new mechanism for storing and accessing data from our Azure applications.
Enter Azure Storage