Build 2014: Microsoft Previews Azure Portal For Cloud DevOps

Darryl K. Taft covers IBM, big data and a number of other topics for TechWeekEurope and eWeek

Microsoft offers a Azure portal preview to help enterprise developers implement DevOps in the cloud

Microsoft is touting a cloud experience for enterprise developers that combines cross-platform technologies, services and tools.

To help developers rapidly innovate, Microsoft launched a new Azure Preview Portal.

Azure Portal

The new portal, along with components like Microsoft’s lightweight editor code-named “Monaco” and the company’s Application Insights analytics feature of Visual Studio Online, provides a unique “DevOps” experience for developers. Microsoft announced the portal preview at its Build 2014 conference.

“Developing for a mobile-first, cloud-first world is complicated, and Microsoft is working to simplify this world without sacrificing speed, choice, cost or quality,” said Scott Guthrie, executive vice president at Microsoft. “Imagine a world where infrastructure and platform services blend together in one seamless experience, so developers and IT professionals no longer have to work in disparate environments in the cloud. Microsoft has been rapidly innovating to solve this problem, and we have taken a big step toward that vision today.”

S. “Soma” Somasegar, corporate vice president of Microsoft’s Developer Division, said Microsoft is intent on delivering “a fantastic cloud platform as well as a great platform for you to be able to build applications and services and deploy them. That goes hand in hand with the cloud tools in Azure. We give you a great set of cloud-focused development tools in Visual Studio and to help developers deliver on the cloud we offer Visual Studio Online.”

Somasegar said Microsoft has seen some “phenomenal” usage and adoption of Visual Studio Online from its customers.

“We now have more than a million users on Visual Studio Online,” he said. “In the last four months we saw a 3x increase in users. One metric is the number of requests that come through our service. We are serving 100 million requests per day, and we’ve crossed the 2 billion mark in terms of number of requests.”

When Microsoft launched Visual Studio Online last November, it launched in a preview form; it is now generally available.

“We feel like now we’ve made enough progress and got enough traction to announce the GA of VS Online,” Somasegar said. “Part of the ability to deliver the VS Online service is we will commit to a 99.9 percent availability from an SLA perspective. This is significant because I think this is a first of its kind for a developer service in the world, period.”

DevOps Delivery

“Microsoft is taking its Microsoft Azure platform and Visual Studio Online and bringing them together “to provide a fantastic end-to-end experience from a developer perspective in a single portal. Think of it as a preview of the next-generation portal where you bring all the goodness of the application platform and the goodness of tools and services together so that you enable a single portal both for developers and IT pros to think of DevOps in an end-to-end way,” Somasegar told eWEEK. “We are super-excited about this because we think we are doing something here that is significantly more valuable to our customers than pretty much anything.”

The advantages of the new Microsoft Azure Preview Portal are that Microsoft provides an end-to-end application lifecycle management solution, starting from an idea to writing a service to debugging and deployment.

“The second thing is we allow you to get diagnostics and telemetry data through Application Insights,” Somasegar said.” And rather than letting you see it on a service-by-service-by-service basis, we let you take an application-centric view and give you all the information that you need about your full application.”

End-To-End

“The portal change is a good first step in blending the developer experience of their IaaS [infrastructure-as-a-service] and PaaS [platform-as-a-service] services,” James Staten, an analyst with Forrester Research, told eWEEK.” You could already mix and match, but it was less intuitive. Developers tell us they want to easily mix abstracted and raw infrastructure services based on their needs, and the new portal approach helps.

Windows Azure landscape“This is similar to why Google announced Managed VMs, so you could convert a PaaS app to IaaS so you could change its configuration,” Staten said. “But the value developers want is more about mix and match than migrate or convert from PaaS to IaaS. This is less about DevOps enablement than about improving developer productivity.”

What sets Microsoft apart from others in DevOps, Somasegar said, is “we take an end-to-end view on application lifecycle management. If you say you want to start writing some code, we are going to give you a set of tools and services that enable you to start right from ideation all the way to deployment. You think about the workflow, think about source code systems, think about issue tracking, think about bug tracking, think about being able to build, think about debugging, think about continuous deployment. … You think about all the things you need to go through; we provide you with a set of end-to-end services and tools that enable you to do that.”

The new Microsoft Azure Preview Portal provides a fully integrated experience that will enable customers to develop and manage an application in one place, using the platform and tools of their choice. The new portal combines all the components of a cloud application into a single development and management experience.

Rather than managing stand-alone resources such as Microsoft Azure Web Sites, Visual Studio Projects or databases, customers can now create, manage and analyse their entire application as a single resource group in a unified experience, greatly reducing complexity while enabling scale. Today the new Azure resource manager is also being released via the latest Azure SDK for customers to automate their deployment and management from any client or device.

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Originally published on eWeek.