Recently, in October 2010, at our Professional Developers
Conference (PDC) we made some exciting roadmap announcements regarding Windows
Azure AppFabric, and we have already gotten very positive feedback regarding
this roadmap from both customers and analysts (Gartner Names Windows Azure AppFabric “A
Strategic Core of Microsoft’s Cloud Platform”).

As result of these announcements we wanted to have a series
of blog posts that will give a refreshed introduction to the Windows Azure
AppFabric, its vision and roadmap.

Until the announcements at PDC we presented Windows Azure
AppFabric as a set of technologies that enable customers to bridge applications
in a secure manner across on-premises and the cloud. This is all still true,
but with the recent announcements we now broaden this, and talk about Windows
Azure AppFabric as being a comprehensive cloud middleware platform that raises
the level of abstraction when developing applications on the Windows Azure

But first, let’s begin by explaining what exactly it is we
are trying to solve.

Businesses of all sizes experience tremendous cost and
complexity when extending and customizing their applications today.  Given the constraints of the economy,
developers must find new ways to do more with less but at the same time
simultaneously find new innovative ways to keep up with the changing needs of
the business.  This has led to the
emergence of composite applications as a solution development approach.  Instead of significantly modifying existing
applications and systems, and relying solely on the packaged software vendor
when there is a new business need, developers are finding it a lot cheaper and
more flexible to build these composite applications on top of, and surrounding,
existing applications and systems.

Developers are now also starting to evaluate newer
cloud-based platforms, such as the Windows Azure Platform, as a way to gain
greater efficiency and agility. The promised benefits of cloud development are
impressive, by enabling greater focus on the business and not in running the

As noted earlier, customers already have a very large base
of existing heterogeneous and distributed business applications spanning
different platforms, vendors and technologies. 
The use of cloud adds complexity to this environment, since the services
and components used in cloud applications are inherently distributed across
organizational boundaries.  Understanding
all of the components of your application – and managing them across the full
application lifecycle – is tremendously challenging. 

Finally, building cloud applications often introduces new
programming models, tools and runtimes, making it difficult for customers to
enhance, or transition from, their existing server-based applications.

Windows Azure AppFabric is meant to address these challenges
through 3 main concepts:

Middleware Services – pre-built
higher-level services that developers can use when developing their
applications, instead of the developers having to build these capabilities on
their own. This reduces the complexity of building the application and saves a
lot of time for the developer.

Building Composite
– capabilities that enable you to assemble, deploy and manage a composite
application that is made up of several different components as a single logical

Scale-out Application
– capabilities that makes it seamless to get the benefit of
cloud, such as: elastic scale, high availability, density, multi-tenancy, etc’.

So, with Windows Azure AppFabric you don’t just get the
common advantages of cloud computing such as not having to own and manage the
infrastructure, but you also get pre-built services, a development model, tools,
and management capabilities that help you build and run your application in the
right way and enjoy more of the great benefits of cloud computing such as
elastic scale, high-availability, multi-tenancy, high-density, etc’.

Tune in to the future blog posts in this series to learn
more about these capabilities and how they help address the challenges noted

Other places to learn more on Windows Azure AppFabric are:


If you haven’t already taken advantage of our free trial
offer make sure to click on the image below and start using Windows Azure
AppFabric already today!

Please leave your comments and questions in the comments
section below.

Itai Raz, Product Manager