In-Depth

Azure Application Platform: Moving to the Modern Cloud

From VSLive!: Microsoft's Matt Nunn demonstrated some use cases for the modern cloud platform, one that opens up options for businesses to tranform the way they do business internally and externally.

The cloud and the many options for using the cloud have certainly changed over the last few years. There's more capability and flexibility for any organization that wants to move either a small portion of its business or its entire operations to the cloud. That was the primary message of Matt Nunn's keynote session, entitled "The Microsoft Azure Application Platform: Foundation for Your Modern Apps," and held at the Washington DC Visual Studio Live! event on October 4.

Nunn started his presentation with a brief video, demonstrating how Seattle radio stations KCMU and KXP have relied on Microsoft Azure services to broadcast its music all over the world. "They use the cloud to change the way they can be as a radio station," says Nunn. "They're no longer restricted by big radio tower. They're able to go out to entire world. As they mentioned, Germany is huge market for them."

And for those radio stations, it's not just the manner in which they get their signal out. It has also streamlined internal operations at the station. "They've digitized their entire music catalog," says Nunn. "They actually have access to every single piece of music in their catalog. There's no playlist and no format when a DJ goes on. It's all powered by the cloud. It's changing expectations and changing what you can do today."

Broadcasting is certainly not the only industry that has experienced massive business model shifts thanks to the cloud. Nunn pointed out the more obvious examples of movie rentals, transportation and bookstores. "What the cloud has done is revolutionized industry. Blockbuster, taxis, telephone booths, bookshelves, those have all gone away," says Nunn. Those industries have of course been replaced by Netflix, Uber and Amazon.

"It has certainly changed the way we buy and the way we shop," he says. "Today, every company is a software company. Think of anything you do in business today, it always involves software. It's software that's driving the change in business."

Nunn then described how the technology, and the business acceptance of the technology, has evolved over the last several years. "It's a move from on-premises to the cloud; moving from on-premises to virtualized system and into the cloud and to the PaaS concept."

The extent to which one moves to the cloud depends on how much responsibility they want to maintain. "You can think about this based on level of responsibility you want to take for the infrastructure you're going to deploy," he says. "When you start on-premises, everything is your responsibility. As you move to the cloud with IaaS, we take a little bit of that away from you. It keeps up and running easily. You still have control of what's on those machines. Then with PaaS, we take even more responsibility away from you. And finally in the SaaS world, you're not responsible for anything. You log in and there's your information. We take care of everything." Nunn acknowledges something like SaaS is not appropriate for everyone, and that most organizations have some combination of IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS.

From a developer's standpoint, the benefits are demonstrable. "You're not spending time doing things that do not deliver value," he says. "Patching OSes does not deliver value. You can invest more time in building apps. You can have a 50 percent faster time to market, because you're assembling with building blocks, instead of building from scratch."

Nunn also led into a brief demo of the Azure Solutions site, showing the crowd how they can choose the services they want to use. The Azure App Services is where developers would work for building apps. Functions is a new service that provides access to the "new world of serverless compute," says Nunn. Cloud Services is where Microsoft started with Azure, using these services to define roles.

"We're focused not on technology, but on what you're trying to achieve," he says. "We can run on-premises or in the cloud with [Azure] Service Fabric. We can also run on other clouds [on top of Azure]."

The next Visual Studio Live! event take place as part of Live! 360, which also includes TechMentor, SQL Server Live!, the newly renamed Office and SharePoint Live!, Modern Apps Live! and the new AppDevTrends conference. Live! 360 takes place in Orlando, FL December 5-9. For more information, check here.

About the Author

Lafe Low has been a technology editor and writer for more than 25 years. Most recently, he was the editor in chief of TechNet magazine. He has also held various editorial positions with Redmond magazine, CIO magazine and InfoWorld. He also launched his own magazine entitled Explore New England, and has published four editions of his guidebook The Best in Tent Camping: New England.

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