Windows Azure and the Hybrid Cloud – Part 1

One of the critical requirements for enterprises to adopt Cloud is the Hybrid capability. Since most of the mission critical applications live behind the firewall, they should be able to extend the functionality of these applications to the Cloud.

Since the initial announcement of Windows Azure, Microsoft has been constantly investing in hybrid features. I want to highlight some of the scenarios that are ideal candidates for the Windows Azure Hybrid Cloud.

Extending the business logic to the Cloud - Imagine a scenario where the e-Commerce storefront running on the public domain needs to check the customer data in an internal CRM to apply the right level of discount before each checkout. The CRM application is a homegrown line of business application developed in .NET. The business logic is already exposed through a set of service endpoints that is consumed by the frontend. Now, making these endpoints accessible to the storefront application running on the Cloud is a challenge. The IT team will not approve opening additional ports to enable communication over the public Internet. This is exactly where Windows Azure Service Bus will come to the rescue. The Service Bus relay features is designed for the use-case of taking existing Windows Communication Foundation (WCF) web services and making those services securely accessible to solutions that reside outside the corporate perimeter without requiring intrusive changes to the corporate network infrastructure. Such Service Bus relay services are still hosted inside their existing environment, but they delegate listening for incoming sessions and requests to the cloud-hosted Service Bus. By enumerating the CRM endpoints on the Service Bus, the storefront application will be able to invoke the business logic as if it is running natively on the Cloud. This feature makes it easy to extend the on-premise LOB application’s business logic to the Cloud.

Extending the data to the Cloud - There are multiple scenarios where a subset of the database running within the corporate datacenter needs to be extended to the Cloud applications. For example, a FMCG company might want to empower their sales force to access the latest inventory over the mobile devices. The inventory data is a part of a complex SCM database that runs within the organization. Making the whole database available on the Cloud is not a viable option. SQL Data Sync is a feature that is designed to synchronize the on-premise database with one or SQL database instances deployed on the Cloud. By choosing to synchronize a subset of the inventory data to the sales force through SQL Data Sync, the organization could make the required data set available. Eventually, they can also let the sales team accept orders that get committed to SQL Database on the Cloud which will then be synchronized with the on-premise SQL Server. In many hybrid application scenarios, data may need to be used by on-premises applications as well as cloud applications, or you may simply want to replicate data based on proximity in order to improve performance. SQL Data Sync enables creating and scheduling regular synchronizations between Windows Azure SQL Database and either SQL Server or other SQL Databases. This gives organizations an option to expose a subset of the corporate database to the Cloud users.

In the next part, we will explore extending the Active Directory to the Cloud and enabling virtual Private Cloud scenarios on Windows Azure.

- Janakiram MSV, Chief Editor,


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