Microsoft begins paving path for IT, cloud integration

By John Fontana, Network World |  Software

"Everybody is not going to move everything they have running in IT to the cloud. People have data sets, they have privacy issues, competitive issues and for whatever reason people will keep things in the data center," said Amitabh Srivastava, the senior vice president at Microsoft responsible for Windows Azure. In 2006, Srivastava and Dave Cutler started Microsoft's cloud operating system project under the code name Red Dog, which became Azure. "A lot of apps are going to be split between cloud and IT and you want to have bridging technologies so we are going to provide services, tools or various ways to partition your applications in any way you want," Srivastava added.

To do that they will need tools such as Project Sydney, which was introduced as a concept at PDC. Sydney creates a sort of virtual network that ties together pieces of an application or processes running in various places so they all looks like one logical system.

"We want to provide this network overlay otherwise it is going to be a nightmare because you have to manage security [in many places], you have this policy and that policy, so if you have the overlay it can be thought of as one network," Srivastav said.

Microsoft showed a demo of Sydney as part of an internal auction application that incorporates a database running on-premises at Microsoft and a front end hosted in the cloud, where the performance is supplied to handle the churn of auction bids before depositing the final result in the internal database.

Another key piece introduced is the AppFabric, an application server layer that spans the cloud and internal servers so developers have a single, consistent environment for .Net applications. The AppFabric combines hosting and caching technologies formerly code-named Dublin and Velocity. Beta 1 for Windows Server 2008 R2 was released last week and a beta for Azure will come in 2010.

In addition, Microsoft gave two .Net Services components the AppFabric name: the AppFabric Service Bus, which provides an IPv6 and IPSEC pipe between internal networks and the cloud; and AppFabric Access Control, which supports identities federation so access controls can be shared across components no matter where they run.

In addition, Ray Ozzie, chief software architect, said that Visual Studio 2010 will include templates that allow movement of cloud applications between hosted and internal networks.

Microsoft also introduced a tool with Visual Studio called VM Roles that will let users put legacy applications in the cloud using virtual machines. While those applications won't be able to take advantage of some cloud features, VM Roles will help corporate users move some workloads to the cloud so they can focus resources on mission-critical applications.

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