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Windows Azure and the Hybrid Cloud

Extending the business logic to the Cloud

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.

Extending the Corporate Directory Services to the Cloud
Many organizations run Active Directory as the corporate directory service. This LDAP based database is used by applications to authenticate the credentials of users. Since the same database is used by the corporate network to maintain the user profiles, the users logging in once to the Active Directory will automatically get authenticated by all line of business applications. This provides the advantage of single sign-on across multiple applications. Businesses hosting line of business applications will face the challenge of extending the single sign-on beyond the organizational boundaries. Employees of the organization expect their credentials to work even when they login from the applications deployed on the Cloud. This is where the combination of Active Directory Federation Services (AD FS) and Access Control Services (ACS) of Windows Azure will help. When ACS is paired with AD FS, Windows Azure applications can get authenticated against the Active Directory running within the organization behind the firewall. This capability will bring single sign-on across on-premise and Cloud applications.

Securely Extend the Datacenter to the Cloud
There are scenarios where the infrastructure needs to be extended to the Cloud without compromising on the security, policies and compliance. IT will be able to enumerate the virtual infrastructure running on the Cloud along with on-premise infrastructure and manage them seamlessly. The VMs running on the Cloud will be compliant with the IT policies and the patches and service packs can be pushed to them. For all practical purposes, IT can treat the virtual infrastructure as an extension of the datacenter. Industry standard VPN infrastructure connects the datacenter with the Cloud securely. This will make it extremely convenient to move workloads that still need to communicate with the on-premise servers. This is the most commonly used hybrid strategy by customers.

We looked at some of the hybrid scenarios on Windows Azure to enable business extend their on-premise assets to the Cloud.

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Janakiram MSV

Janakiram MSV heads the Cloud Infrastructure Services at Aditi Technologies. He was the founder and CTO of Get Cloud Ready Consulting, a niche Cloud Migration and Cloud Operations firm that recently got acquired by Aditi Technologies. In his current role, he leads a highly talented engineering team that focuses on migrating and managing applications deployed on Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Windows Azure Infrastructure Services.
Janakiram is an industry analyst with deep understanding of Cloud services. Through his speaking, writing and analysis, he helps businesses take advantage of the emerging technologies. He leverages his experience of engaging with the industry in developing informative and practical research, analysis and authoritative content to inform, influence and guide decision makers. He analyzes market trends, new products / features, announcements, industry happenings and the impact of executive transitions.
Janakiram is one of the first few Microsoft Certified Professionals on Windows Azure in India. Demystifying The Cloud, an eBook authored by Janakiram is downloaded more than 100,000 times within the first few months. He is the Chief Editor of a popular portal on Cloud called www.CloudStory.in that covers the latest trends in Cloud Computing. Janakiram is an analyst with the GigaOM Pro analyst network where he analyzes the Cloud Services landscape. He is a guest faculty at the International Institute of Information Technology, Hyderabad (IIIT-H) where he teaches Big Data and Cloud Computing to students enrolled for the Masters course. As a passionate speaker, he has chaired the Cloud Computing track at premier events in India.
He has been the keynote speaker at many premier conferences, and his seminars are attended by thousands of architects, developers and IT professionals. His sessions are rated among the best in every conference he participates.
Janakiram has worked at the world-class product companies including Microsoft Corporation, Amazon Web Services and Alcatel-Lucent. Joining as the first employee of Amazon Web Services in India, he was the AWS Technology Evangelist. Prior to that, Janakiram spent 10 years at Microsoft Corporation where he was involved in selling, marketing and evangelizing the Microsoft Application Platform and Tools.

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