A business use case for Windows Azure hybrid cloud

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Hard to believe we’re not only heading into the Thanksgiving holiday but also nearing the end of 2013. A lot has happened this year with Microsoft and Windows Azure – and we’ve had fun tracking Azure developments and how companies are deploying cloud to drive their businesses forward.

For this week’s Azure Update, we have a  good set of items including an interesting piece on Windows Azure hybrid cloud. Microsoft’s Brad Anderson this week posted a long blog detailing his take on hybrid cloud’s value prop and how Azure’s hybrid cloud offering compares to its competitors. Anderson emphasizes how Microsoft’s hybrid cloud “gives you the ability to fine tune your cloud for exactly what your organization needs” and lets you customize your approach to the cloud rather than have it be an all or nothing deal.

CloudPro‘s Jane McCallion includes an interesting use case around hybrid cloud involving EasyJet. The low-cost airline wanted to give its customers a faster, smoother way to select their seats while booking a flight. With its core booking system kept on-premise, EasyJet deploys Windows Azure for the seat-reservation function.

In other Azure news,  Microsoft announced this week that  .NET and node.js developers can now use WebSockets in their apps for Azure-hosted websites. Once enabled, Microsoft says developers “can use libraries and APIs from their respective frameworks” to work with WebSockets.

Microsoft this week also blogged that users can create a Windows Server Essentials Experience via Windows Azure in roughly a half hour’s time. Added last month as a new image in Windows Azure Virtual Machine platform image gallery, users can now create a brand new server in the cloud, paying only for what they use. According to this blog, Microsoft developers have attempted to make setting up an Azure-based Essentials server “as similar as possible to running on-premises.”

On the cloud storage front, one additional item mentioned in Scott Guthrie’s recent post (detailing a list of Azure upgrades) is Microsoft’s new Import/Export Service. Under this new service, you can mail (via FedEx) your hard drives (encrypted for security en route) to Microsoft where they’ll upload your data into Azure blob storage. This may sound like some process from the mid-1990s, but, as CIO Today notes, it may often be more cost-effective and faster to physically send your hard drives for upload or download into and out of the cloud rather than tie up your network bandwidth.

For developers, Microsoft this week unveiled its Azure cloud-based version of Visual Studio called Visual Studio Online. Microsoft says this new portal-based development tool will enable developers to create apps and build software with more agility and speed. Microsoft’s announcement also provides details on its pricing and payment structure for the Visual Studio Online, including “free accounts for small teams.”




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