The Windows Azure public cloud platform is one of the three pillars of Microsoft’s Cloud OS vision that will transform the traditional datacenter environment, help businesses unlock insights in data stored anywhere, enable the development of a wide range of modern business applications, and empower IT to support users who work anywhere on any device while being able to manage these devices in a secure and consistent way. The other two pillars of the Cloud OS are, of course, Windows Server 2012 R2 and Microsoft System Center 2012 R2, and Microsoft Press will soon be releasing free Introducing books on these platforms as well.
What’s really exciting to me personally as an IT pro is that this is all coming at once. General Availability (GA) of these latest versions of Windows Server and System Center is currently scheduled for October 18, 2013, which is less than two months away as this book is being written. In sync with these two releases, the Windows Azure platform has also been enhanced in recent months with preview releases of new services like Windows Azure BizTalk Services, Windows Azure Traffic Manager, and Windows Azure HDInsight. And in the same timeframe, services that were previously in preview like Windows Azure Web Sites and Windows Azure Mobile Services have now reached the GA milestone.
In fact, as I write this Introduction (it happens to be the last piece of the book that I’m writing) I just noticed that another new service, Windows Azure Store, has just entered preview. Fortunately, it turns out that my free Windows Azure subscription as an MSDN subscriber currently doesn’t support purchasing from the Store in my geographical region, so I can’t test this preview feature just yet. I’m actually glad about this because I just finished writing the last chapter and don’t want to go back and have to revise it again!
My point of course is that Windows Azure, the public cloud portion of Microsoft’s Cloud OS, is a constantly evolving platform with new features entering preview all the time. One has to draw a line somewhere though, so we’ve decided to title this book Introducing Windows Azure for IT Professionals as it tries to capture the essence of what Windows Azure can do for your business as Microsoft’s Cloud OS vision becomes a reality with the release of Windows Server 2012 R2 and System Center 2012 R2.
Whether you’re new to the Windows Azure platform or are already using it in
your business, this book has something that should interest you. Most Windows
Azure services are described in some detail, with screenshots used to demonstrate
some of the multitude of capabilities of the platform. And for the experienced we
have lots of under-the-hood insights and expert tips written by Microsoft insiders
who develop, test, and use the Windows Azure platform.
So whatever your goals are in reading this book, you’re going to find new things
about the Windows Azure platform that will amaze and delight you. Because, as
you’ll soon see in Chapter 1, Windows Azure can be anything you want it to be!