A lot of people have already blogged about the keynote and commented on the applications shown, so I won’t go into that, apart from saying that I really believe in the model, but I wish they’d found better examples to illustrate it. However, the technology looks fantastic and I’m a big believer in cloud computing. But that’s not the topic of this post. I’ll post more about that later.
Anyway, I was having my own pretty good cloud experience during the keynote, but not on Microsoft Azure. For a while now we’ve been trying to figure out how we want to host our new Sproodle SaaS offering. We’ve been looking into different options ranging from hosting it ourselves (not a good idea) to hosting it as an application somewhere (now we’re getting into Azure-territory, but more on that in another post). One option we’ve explored is using one of several hosting companies that offer you virtual machines in their own hardware, thus saving you from having to invest in that yourself. One such company is Amazon, with their Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) service. They recently started offering Windows-based virtual machines, which certainly is very interesting.
On Sunday we decided we’d try to deploy our Sproodle product into EC2. We were all fired up and ready to go, but unfortunately our plan was foiled because the hotel bar didn’t have a wireless network. It’s kind of hard to put something up in the cloud without a network connection…
So, on Monday, before and during the Ray Ozzie keynote, I set up an EC2 account, created a Windows Server 2003 virtual machine with SQL Server, and deployed our application to it. Creating this machine in the cloud and getting our software up and running on it took 2,5 hours. Getting the Windows Server 2003 virtual box up and running took about 30 minutes. The reason deploying the software took 2 hours had more to do with having to mess around with some nasty config file insanity than with Amazon. Although having to copy files over a remote desktop connection is not exactly the fastest thing in the world. I should have set up some other deployment method, but since this was more of a trial than a real world deployment I decided not to bother with it.
To summarize I think it’s pretty cool to be able to set up a hosted virtual machine complete with our application in less than three hours. EC2 is a pretty cool service, very much oriented around pay-as-you-go (they charge for how long you have your machine running and for how much data you transfer).
Later you’ll find out how long it took us to deploy Sproodle on Microsoft Azure. Yes, we did it already :).