Big Wish List for Windows Azure - PDC10 update

At Lokad, we have been working with Windows Azure for more than 2 years, received the 1st Windows Azure Award and serving large and small companies through a 100% powered by Windows Azure technology since the commercial availability in Q1 2010.

In my previous Big Wish List for Windows Azure, I was stating that Microsoft was a late entrant in the cloud computing arena. Considering the tremendous efforts that Microsoft has pushed around cloud technologies in 2010, I believe this aspect is no more relevant.

With all the PDC10 announcements and all the improvements delivered in 2010 in Windows Azure, it’s time to revisit this list.

Windows Azure

Top priority:

Nice to have:

Overall feedback: even if occasional glitches have been observed after 1 year of services in production of Windows Azure, it clearly proved to be the most stable hosting environment we ever experienced.

SQL Azure

Top priority:

Nice to have:

Overall feedback: a really distinct feature of the Azure platform. Its near seamless integration with SQL Server proved to be very handy for a couple clients of Lokad to expose their data to Salescast in order to avoid overloading of their on-premise databases with intensive read operations.

Table Storage

Top priority:

Nice to have:

Overall feedback: very powerful storage service, still lacking the .NET client library it deserves. Work-around exists for the lack of upsert and get-many operations, but they complicates the client code.

Queue Storage

Nice to have:

Overall feedback: Just exactly what you would expect from a FIPFO. The throughput cap at 500 msg / sec is annoying, but not a show stopper. The work-around consists of sharding a single logical queue over multiple Azure queues. It’s not too complicated to implement, but it adds extra layers of code.

Blob Storage

Nice to have:

Overall feedback: Although the most common usage pattern consists of using this storage as a substitute for a classical file system, Lokad mostly uses the Blob Storage for pre-aggregated data chunks - in order to make our data accesses more coarse (handy to improve overall process latencies). It works just fine.

Windows Azure Console

(Big updates coming) At PDC10, Microsoft unveiled an entirely redesigned web console for Windows Azure. I did not get the chance to have a try yet, but I believe big changes (for the better) are coming soon in this area.

New services

Although it was not part of my initial wish list, but the Windows Azure AppFabric Caching (distributed cache) and Windows Azure Virtual Network (IP management) are impressive additions that I am very eager to see in production.

Concerning other services:

I am eager to see how Windows Azure unfold in 2011. This upcoming year is likely be turning point in terms of widespread adoption of the cloud among traditional software companies (not just Californian startups :-).