PDC 2008, Day #4, Session #2, 1 hr 30 mins
My second session on Thursday was a continuation of the cloud services symposium from the first session. There was a third part to the symposium, which I did not attend.
The presenter for this session, Eugenio, was not nearly as good a presenter as Gianpaolo from the previous session. So it was a bit less dynamic, and harder to stay interested.
The session basically consisted of a single demo, which illustrated some of the possible solutions to the Identity, Monitoring, and Integration challenges mentioned in the previous session.
Eugenio pointed out the problems involved in authentication/authorization. You don’t want to require the enterprise users to have a unique username/password combination for each service that they use. And pushing out the enterprise (e.g. Active Directory) credential information to the third party service is not secure and creates a management nightmare.
The proposed solution is to use a central (federated) identity system to do the authentication and authorization. This is the purpose of the Azure Access Control service.
The next part of the demo showed how Azure supports remote management, on the part of IT staff at an individual customer site, of their instance of your application. The basic things that you can do remotely include:
- Active real-time monitoring of application health
- Trigger administrative actions, based on the current state
The end result (and goal) is that you have the same scope of control over your application as you’d have if it were on premises.
Finally, Eugenio did some demos related to “process integration”—allowing your service to be called from a legacy service or system. This demo actually woke everyone up, because Eugenio brought an archaic green-screen AS400 system up in an emulator and proceeded to have it talk to his Azure service.
The conclusions were recommendations to both IT organizations and ISVs:
- Enterprise IT organization
- Don’t settle for sub-optimal solutions
- Tap into the benefits of Software+Services
- Don’t give them an excuse to reject your solution
- Make use of better tools, frameworks, and services