When Microsoft announced Windows Azure, one of my questions was “what does that mean for IT Pros?”. There’s loads of information to help developers write applications for the cloud, but what about those of us who do infrastructure: servers, networks, and other such things?
In truth, everything becomes commoditised in time and, as Quest’s Joe Bagueley pointed out on Twitter a few days ago, infrastructure as a service (IaaS) will become commoditised as platform as a service (PaaS) solutions take over and there will come a time when we care about what hypervisor we are running on about as much as we care about network drivers today. That is to say that, someone might care but, for most of us, we’ll be consuming commodity services and we won’t need to know about the underlying infrastructure.
So, what will there for for server admins to do? Well, that takes me back to Windows Azure (which is a PaaS solution). For some time now, I’ve been keen to learn about integrating on and off-premise systems – for example getting application components that are running on Windows Server working with other parts of the application in Windows Azure. To do this, Microsoft has created Windows Azure Connect – a new Windows Azure service that enables customers to setup secure, IP-level network connectivity between their Windows Azure compute services and existing, on-premise resources. This allows Windows Azure applications to leverage and integrate with existing infrastructure investments in order to ease adoption of Azure in the enterprise – and I’m really pleased that, after nearly a year of trying to set something up, the Windows Server User Group (WSUG) is running a Live Meeting on this topic (thanks to a lot of help from Phil Winstanley, ex-MVP and now native at Microsoft).
Our speaker will be Allan Naim, an Azure Architect Evangelist at Microsoft. Allan has more than 15 years of experience designing and building distributed middleware applications including both custom and off the shelf Enterprise Application Integration architectures and, on the evening of 22 March 2011 (starting at 19:00 GMT), he’ll spend an hour taking us through Windows Azure Connect.
Combined with the event that Mark Parris has organised for 6 April 2011 where one of the topics is Active Directory Federation Services (AD-FS), these two WSUG sessions should give Windows Server administrators a great opportunity to learn about integrating Windows Server and Windows Azure.