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Friday, January 08, 2010

What can the Cloud offer you in 2010?

Now that we are in 2010, a big wave of Microsoft technologies, updates, etc. is coming.

2010 for sure will be the year of the Cloud. And though it's not on any offical calendar, those born under the year of the cloud are sure to be free thinkers, operational vs. captial based, have abilities to get projects going on their feet --- and into the cloud quickly.

Ok, so getting more serious, 2010 will for sure mark a year that the cloud, and what is offers becomes more and more in focus.

Most all businesses, in some form or fashion, have an interest level in the Cloud. When I talk to clients about Microsoft Azure, Microsoft's cloud platform, the biggest thing I see as an issue is what the cloud offers.

So armed with the latest knowledge, I thought this article on 'Getting Technical', should be spent talking about what the cloud offers now, soon, and the future.

As of now, there are actually several different services, that live in the cloud, built on Azure, that Dynamics AX clients can make use of.

- DAX ROI and Azure Dynamics ERP Services
- Microsoft Payment Service and Discussion with Red Maple

So if the go through the above post, you will see what the Cloud offers now for Dynamics AX, and also how one of the services compares to an ISV offered solution for Credit Card Processing.

These, as I am sure you have guessed, are the very tip of the iceberg. These are just the first offerings from Microsoft themselve, for services built on the Azure Cloud Platform.

So what does that mean? To be built on top of the Azure Cloud platform. Well to get into this, and understand a little better, first we must know there will be two ways services and whole applications, including legacy, can live in the cloud.

First, you have the true cloud based Software+Services, 'Three Screens and a Cloud' marketing tag lined approach. This is, services that are built using SQL Azure, .Net AppFabric, Windows Azure etc. that are multi-tenant based. This means they can scale up or down, without need of system administration, depending on the load of the given service or services at hand.

This first approach is what makes such cloud based services, different from a typical hosting environment, like having a server co-located somewhere and users hitting it. This is also different than having a service hosted on some web server, and users consuming it.

Once created, and setup, then the need of the service, truly governs the resources used to serve that need.

Enter the second option for Azure platform based softare or services. This is where, for example, a legacy app could be used. Here, what you have is a provisoned virtaul image, that sits on top of the Azure platform. This is very similar to having a co-located box somewhere. This is not dynamically scalable, and so has a set of finite resources... unless an admin type increases those resources.

The second option is a pay for use as well, and it's spread out over the CPU, Disk I/O, etc.

So, now we have a better idea of what it means to be built on the Azure platform. The current service offerings from Microsoft, are of option one. Truly dynamic scalable services, depending on the need. Built using Windows Azure, .Net AppFabric, SQL Azure, etc.

Coming back around, what can be done then with Dynamics AX and the Cloud? Well we have the services being offered, and also you can create you own custom services. I did a post that took an example, of making use of SQL Azure, and Dynamics AX for a field service custom application. That post can be found below here.

- A Possible Dynamics AX Solution - with the Cloud

So, the above shows an example application, making use of Dynamics AX and SQL Azure. Not even touching the .Net AppFabric or Windows Azure.

Now, what's coming? Well as I mentioned above, next year is for sure going to be marked as the year of the cloud. Check out the follow, recent post I did, about the next wave of technologies, and how they will enable Dynamics AX + the cloud, or a Hybrid Cloud approach that will become the norm for sometime.

- Microsoft's next wave of releases

In that post you can see that the coming technologies, mixed with the Dynamics AX road map, show the Cloud is very much a part of Dynamics AX's future.

These technologies, will allow Active Directory to manage security for on-premise and cloud based objects. Meaning, you control the security of your Hyrbid cloud, through federated services. The next release of BizTalk will be a key enabling technology, with the ability to connect and manage service paths, acting as your enterprise service bus, for flow of data through your enterprise, including those parts that live in the cloud.

Then you have the road map of Dynamics AX, showing each time 'Software+Services' offerings being increased.

So, for the cloud and Dynamics AX, you will have the ability to consume and work with services developed by Microsoft. Be able to create your own, custom, true cloud services with Dynamics AX, and also make use and consume third party cloud based services.

Next year, truly is going to be the year of the cloud. If you want to find out more, feel free to contact Sunrise, and ask how we can help you plan for the cloud, it's use, and what it can do for you and your Dynamics AX investment.

To find out more about Microsoft Azure platform, please go to the following link, where there is plenty of information about Azure, Windows Azure, SQL Azure, AppFabric (.Net Services), etc.
Microsoft.com - Windows Azure Platform - Home Page.

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