The Microsoft Azure cloud effort is a fairly stupendous technology undertaking, but it remains somewhat unknown beyond the ranks of .NET development teams. At the outset, Microsoft started with a bit of clean slate – it skipped SQL support. Based on customer feedback, it has adjusted along the way, supporting relational data as well as non-relational, and coming up with a pretty robust offering in the process.
Much of Microsoft’s enterprise computing updates are being applied to the Azure cloud, with earth-borne versions to follow. These efforts were on display at last month’s Build conference. One new Azure aspect is represented in the Windows Azure Service Bus September Release. This software is intended to help developers build distributed and loosely-coupled applications in the cloud, as well as hybrid applications across on-premises and the cloud. Enhancements enable asynchronous cloud eventing, event-driven SOA, and advanced intra-app messaging. With this release developers no longer need to handle exceptions due to torn network connections explicitly.
While it came to life long after IBM’s Message Queue software, Microsoft’s 1999 introduction of MS MQ to Windows Server came at the right time for many .NET developers, and became a useful part of the company’s middleware portfolio. Service Bus represents a big step forward. The software supports publish-and-subscribe messaging patterns that Microsoft uses the term ‘topics’ to describe.
”Service Bus is where all our messaging based investments go on the Azure platform. It is where Microsoft’s messaging [integration middleware] is going,” said Tony Meleg, Senior Technical Product Manager, Microsoft. Everything on Service Bus is handled as a service, he said.
Service Bus is intended to work with SOA and event-oriented architectures. That is why Meleg says ”it’s not just messaging, but doing interesting things with messages.” Meleg said many such improvements to Azure eventually will appear on Windows Server.
Clearly, many cloud computing applications will be new and innovative. But many will look to relocate work that is already being done – albeit with hopes of superior outcomes. Many enterprises want to take the data transformations and message brokering being done in today’s data centers, and place that on a cloud platform. Full ESBs on cloud have been discussed. While it is not alone, Microsoft’s effort to meet architect’s messaging needs places it in the forefront of cloud vendors.