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Microsoft Cloud Data Storage

Microsoft Makes It Harder To Avoid Azure 164

Posted by timothy
from the psst-that-shade-of-blue-is-following-you dept.
itwbennett writes "Earlier this week, Microsoft rolled out a handful of hybrid cloud services that make it easy for businesses to start using Azure in a small way. What struck blogger Nancy Gohring about the announcement was 'how deeply Microsoft is integrating Azure into other products,' with the intention of moving long-time customers onto Azure in ways that are hardly perceptible to them."
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Microsoft Makes It Harder To Avoid Azure

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  • What is old is new (Score:5, Interesting)

    by nurb432 (527695) on Thursday October 24, 2013 @05:43PM (#45229051) Homepage Journal

    Everyone leasing time to run their applications and access their data. Like it or not, welcome back to the mainframe age folks, just with more shine and color.

  • WTF is Azure? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ArcadeMan (2766669) on Thursday October 24, 2013 @05:43PM (#45229057)

    Seriously, I don't use any Microsoft products so I have no idea what Azure is supposed to be. A small description or at the very least a link to Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] should have been at the beginning of your text, itwbennett.

  • Well yeah... They are calling server 2012 r2, the Cloud OS, : http://blogs.technet.com/b/in_the_cloud/archive/2013/10/18/today-is-the-ga-for-the-cloud-os.aspx [technet.com]
    • Re:Cloud OS (Score:4, Insightful)

      by icebike (68054) on Thursday October 24, 2013 @06:00PM (#45229231)

      The big item in today's announcement is the automated backup to the cloud of "data" on your in house server.

      There are a lot of small businesses that are running naked with minimal or haphazard backup. If they can get this
      widely accepted they will be doing those people a favor.

      But then there is this:

      Microsoft makes a point of noting that the data is encrypted on site at the customer’s premise before it is sent to Azure and the customer retains and manages the encryption key.

      One has to assume the "Customer retains and manages one copy of the many encryption keys" that can decrypt their data.
      Microsoft's crypt APIs are all back-doored to the NSA.

      True, most small businesses probably don't care all that much, as long as they can get their data back.
      But I would still opt for local and off site storage in physical media before trusting a company with Microsoft's
      track record.

      • by onyxruby (118189)

        Microsoft's crypt APIs are all back-doored to the NSA.

        Citation please

        • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

          by icebike (68054)

          Microsoft's crypt APIs are all back-doored to the NSA.

          Citation please

          O come on, do you really expect to find a Microsoft page with such a statement, or an NSA page?
          You are trying to send me on a fool's errand, because you are too lazy to try a bing or google search.
          You know you can't lose, because no mater what source I post, you will simply declare it non authoritative.

          So do your own homework son.
          key three words into Google: nsa microsoft encryption, hit enter and start reading. You've got a lot of catching up to do.
          There is a world at your fingertips. Use it.

          • Re:Cloud OS (Score:5, Interesting)

            by onyxruby (118189) <onyxruby@NOspam.comcast.net> on Thursday October 24, 2013 @10:27PM (#45230773)

            Put down the tinfoil hat and join the real world. You haven't got a citation because it's only something you want to believe and has no basis in reality. What's next, claiming that Linux has a backdoor for the NSA and that Linus Torvalds is on their payroll?

            If something like what you claim existed Snowden would have dumped it along with the rest. It would have been revealed and Microsoft stock would have taken a massive multi-billion dollar hit from the news. All that kind of talk does it make you sound like a crazy conspiracy theory nut.

            • by dbIII (701233)
              That's right - he'll be telling us bullshit like listening in to millions of phone calls in France next or bugging Angela Merkel's cell phone. Oh wait.

              Fear of spooks aside if you've got anything you don't want seen on the front page of the paper you don't trust it to a third party if only for the fear that they sell off the stuff with your data on it without wiping it first, or that they mix things up and another of their clients gets access to your data. Even places as big as Dell have had fuckups along
            • by icebike (68054)

              Whats a matter Onyxruby, cat got your tongue after the AC posted the link?
              Awfully quiet from you. (not that we are complaining when a shill shuts up).

              http://rt.com/usa/microsoft-nsa-snowden-leak-971/ [rt.com]

              • by onyxruby (118189)

                You still haven't got a citation, and neither has anyone else at this very anti Microsoft site. If you had proof you would be making a fortune by shorting their stock. Your going to have a hell of a time with your tinfoil hat shill claim when I've made comments critical of Microsoft on this site for over a decade. You need psychological help for your delusions.

                • by icebike (68054)

                  EXACTLY as predicted, you reject all evidence in your myopic opinion that there is no evil in the world.
                  You seriously believe that the stock price is even vaguely related to the news of corporate misbehavior? After all these decades of Microsoft being dragged into every court on earth, and the stock price didn't flincg?

                  You won't accept anyone's evidence. So why do you persist?

      • by cybrthng (22291)

        You should always use your own client controlled encryption to protect yourself regardless of which offsite backup solution you choose. Even with amazon glacier i encrypt locally.

  • by WaffleMonster (969671) on Thursday October 24, 2013 @05:59PM (#45229219)

    Who in their right mind would throw down that kind of recurring cash for Azure?

    Modern hardware is insanely capable, reliable and cheap. Our Internet pipes are as cheap and fat as ever... This leaves me to scratch my head on justification for this.

    You still need "IT" people to manage clients and access environment even if servers are hosted elsewhere. We have four racks of Windows and Linux systems running for years with only minimal maintenance. If you don't buy complete crap shit just runs.

    If people see value in this so be it good for them... Just hope there are options to "export" accounts back "on premise" once your source of limitless funding dries up.

    • by nurb432 (527695)

      The same people that have a MOLP and pay every year too keep it up... ( hint, a lot of large companies )

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      We have four racks of Windows and Linux systems running for years with only minimal maintenance. If you don't buy complete crap shit just runs.

      It's certainly possible to run a data center like a well-oiled machine. You do need to make the right investments, and also invest in the right people to run it.

      On the other hand, a lot of companies want to concentrate on their actual business and leave the running of the data center to the people that are experts at it -- especially if it can be done on the cheap. Some companies start small on a single idea and are unprepared for how popular their idea or service might be and unable to scale to match deman

      • by PPH (736903) on Thursday October 24, 2013 @06:36PM (#45229525)

        Control of your own data, and lock-in to a single solution is a different matter.

        Actually, I think this is what TFA is about. Buy part of your infrastructure from Microsoft and you'll find yourself sliding towards Azure. The people who have a good handle on their IT operations might be able to avoid this. But it appears that the target is those who just trust the Microsoft brand without a plan in place. Microsoft products are a lot like roach motels. Once the data goes in, it never comes out again. 'Out' being to a non Microsoft platform.

        On the cost front your comment misses the mark completely.

        Maybe, maybe not. This is how drug dealers work. The stuff they sell to the school kids is cheap. Once they are hooked, the price goes up.

        • "Once the data goes in, it never comes out again. 'Out' being to a non Microsoft platform."

          So all those "export as" selections are fakes?
          • by PPH (736903)

            So all those "export as" selections are fakes?

            They turn out to be pretty useless. You lose a lot of formatting and semantic information (not that Microsoft ever supported this well). And if you have 10 or 20 thousand documents to process, repairing them manually is a PITA.

            I guess if you want a PDF or flat text, the export function is OK.

      • by icebike (68054)

        On the cost front your comment misses the mark completely.

        You haven't made that case any more they the GP did.

        Having something on the balance sheet is not a big deal. Every company has that, and the equipment works its way off the balance (depreciates) sheet fairly quickly, but often runs way longer than that. Depreciation is a tax write off. Smaller companies can expense things in the first year.

        When the economy is tight, all you need is power and your own staff to keep your own servers operational. But putting all your operations in Azure means you have those

      • On the other hand, a lot of companies want to concentrate on their actual business and leave the running of the data center to the people that are experts at it -- especially if it can be done on the cheap. Some companies start small on a

        I always hear the general economies of scale and specialization meme but I don't understand what prevents the knowledge and expertise from being bottled and applicable to physical hardware?

        Why can't physical hardware be easy to manage? I mean if part x in an array of z breaks just throw out the module with the red blinking light when you have time and replace it with a new one. What part of mitigation of management overhead (leveraging expertise and economies of scale) necessarily requires offloading the

        • by dhavleak (912889)

          AC here. I think you've started a new meme in your comment by calling things memes to discredit them :)

          I always hear the general economies of scale and specialization meme but I don't understand what prevents the knowledge and expertise from being bottled and applicable to physical hardware?

          The cloud guys (Amazon, Microsoft, VMware, others) employ the top talent in the world to work on this around the clock and will never stop. Company X selling widgets (lets say golf clubs) will just buy machines, and employ people to run the data center as efficiently as possible. How far do you think they will go in terms of maxing out the power efficiency of their data center to name just one metric on

          • There's even scope for handling daily spikes -- prime time traffic spikes across time zones can be balanced in the cloud

            If there were enough backbone for that, we wouldn't need CDNs...

          • employ the top talent in the world to work on this around the clock and will never stop

            Apart from on leap years, or when they don't renew the SSL certificates, or what were the other global Azure outages from? It appears that the "top talent" is pure marketingspeak which does not correspond to reality. You've been conned and need to look beyond the glossy advertising to the product itself. They don't yet match up to the local datacentres that may have been doing this for years because they have not yet "

          • The cloud guys (Amazon, Microsoft, VMware, others) employ the top talent in the world to work on this around the clock and will never stop.

            Pure nonsense. All the heavy lifting in this space is done by software/hardware vendors and contractors specializing in datacenter design, AC,HVAC..etc. otherwise you don't need much talent... datacenters are full of glorified operators.

            Company X selling widgets (lets say golf clubs) will just buy machines, and employ people to run the data center as efficiently as possible.

            This is counterproductive. If your selling widgets just put up a storefront on Amazon and be done with it. No need to run *ANYTHING*. That's what makes "the cloud" worth doing.

            Peddling virtual SQL servers and virtual machines does NOT make life easier if you assume the p

    • by Tough Love (215404) on Thursday October 24, 2013 @06:36PM (#45229521)

      Who in their right mind would throw down that kind of recurring cash for Azure?

      Modern hardware is insanely capable, reliable and cheap.

      More to the point, who would bet that kind of cash, and their corporate health and/or reputation, on Microsoft? Case in point, the 7 hour outage [wikipedia.org] on the London Stock Exchange, blamed on Microsoft's Tradelect electronic trading platform. Microsoft was trying to ramp the system up to 10,000 messages/second at that point, a pitifully small number compared to contemporary platforms based on Linux. Not only was Microsoft unable to achieve even remotely respectable performance, they were unable to design and implement a system that could resist catastrophic failure, or when it did fail, bring it back up in less than a day. One can reasonably ask, did Microsoft ever test the failure modes of this system, even once? And what does this say about the efficacy of the .NET + MSQL database platform this was built on?

      As a direct result of this incident, LSE decided to replace the Microsoft system with a Linux-based platform developed in Sri-Lanka, presumably by competent engineers not harrassed by the likes of Steve Ballmer.

      What are the chances of the Tradelect fiasco playing out again on Microsoft's cloud platform? I would say, virtually 100%. Everybody who wants the equivalent of having their business model towed back to shore after suffering the Microsoft effect [wikipedia.org], please raise your hand and repeat: please, can I have some more of that!

      • >Microsoft's Tradelect electronic trading platform

        What? Accenture built Tradelect. Not Microsoft.
        This is like blaming Linux for OpenOffice's bloat.
        Stop the silly FUD.

        • by Tough Love (215404) on Thursday October 24, 2013 @09:56PM (#45230613)

          Don't kid yourself, TradElect was a poster child for Microsoft's server and tools strategy. The project was swarming with Microsoft engineers. But you don't have to believe me, the financial industry rightly perceived Accenture as Microsoft's sock puppet. [thefinanser.co.uk]

          Actually, this was an all too rare case of the industry dumping the blame where it belonged: squarely in Microsoft's lap. Not that Accenture deserves any praise mind you.

          What makes this whole story especially sweet is the way Microsoft crowed about its LSE win [zdnet.com]. Not surprisingly, Microsoft pulled down http://www.microsoft.com/windowsserver/facts/default.mspx [microsoft.com] long ago, but the net remembers it.

          Since that fiasco, Microsoft's presence in financial platforms immediately dropped to zero. We can be thankful for that, and it demonstrates clearly where the industry thinks the blame lies.

          • by cybrthng (22291)

            You guys hold some weird grudges.. There have been billions lost on companies running every OS under the sun out there.. lots of people lost great fortunes for many an absurd cock up or failed IT project.

            The trading company that recently lost half a billion dollars because they couldn't code right ran linux.. is that a fault of linux? nope.. so not sure what your case has any bearing or relevency of.

            Microsoft's Bing, Xbox Live and Cloud services already host something like a million servers across its data

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Tough Love (215404)

              Let me try to explain this in simple terms for you. People do not blame Linux for Knight's trading losses because they do not believe the error had nothing to do with Linux. People do blame Microsoft for the LSE outage because they believe it had everything to do with Microsoft.

              Note: the famous seven hour outage not the first, there were three others before it, all coinciding with high volume. Not particularly high volume compared to contemporaneous Linux platforms, but apparently too high for the Microsoft

              • Let me try to explain this in simple terms for you. People do not blame Linux for Knight's trading losses because *they do not believe* the error had nothing to do with Linux. People do blame Microsoft for the LSE outage because *they believe* it had everything to do with Microsoft.

                Emphasis added. You reversed the negative on your first phrase (should have be anything), but it's still a religious argument.

              • by cybrthng (22291)

                Like the other poster said, you're making a religious argument. I was mostly showing how a mess up of epic proportions could happen regardless of the platform but at the same time, i wouldn't doubt that if Knight Trading *DID* run Windows you would happily use it as case of epic failure of the platform..

      • by thoth (7907)

        More to the point, who would bet that kind of cash, and their corporate health and/or reputation, on Microsoft?

        Heck, Azure itself was down for hours last leap day:
        http://blogs.msdn.com/b/windowsazure/archive/2012/03/09/summary-of-windows-azure-service-disruption-on-feb-29th-2012.aspx [msdn.com]

    • by Anonymous Coward

      my company spends ~$30m a year on maintaining their own datacenter (not a "huge" company by any means). we priced amazon wares and doing the same thing we're doing would cost us ~$2m a year. with numbers like that, it's hard to ignore cloud stuff (no matter how inconvenient it gets for *some* things).

      and yes, a lot of the expense is due to bloat and stupidity, but what big company doesn't have that?

    • by cybrthng (22291)

      Who in their right mind would buy hardware today if their apps are so easily hosted? Why have the headache of data center cooling, data center security, data center facility maintenance, data center redundancy, data center capacity and everything else that goes along with it? The cost of the servers have really little to do with the overall cost. Electricity, support, maintenance & everything else add up.

      With azure and services like azure i can scale in many ways much more easily too. I can scale up lo

      • by gbjbaanb (229885)

        Why have the headache of data center failure without being able to do anything about it?

        TFTFY.

        The primary reason is simply convenience, which will be replaced the first day no-one gets any work done due to a broken internet connection (at the client end even) or another cloud downtime.

    • The cloud is good if you have to spin up servers to horizontally scale if you have a user load spike on (frequent) occasion. Rather than have a bunch of servers really doing nothing most of the time you can have a one or a small number most of the time which is relatively cheap, and then spin up 100 or whatever when needed then shut them down again. You only pay for them when they are running.

      However you do need to look at it critically, like all things. If for example, you only ever spin up at most say fiv

    • by Anonymous Coward

      "Hey everybody, i've worked at a small company where I'm the only IT guy for years, and as long as I keep reinventing the wheel, they keep paying me. Why wouldn't everybody just do things the way I do. It seems silly to waste your money on something like this when you can just pay my salary every month instead!"

  • by Gravis Zero (934156) on Thursday October 24, 2013 @06:07PM (#45229281)

    1) Do not use Microsoft products
    2) Rinse and repeat

    Don't tell me it's unavoidable because that's bullshit. There is always a choice, you are just too comfortable and/or inflexible to use an alternative.

    • 1) Do not use Microsoft products 2) Rinse and repeat. Don't tell me it's unavoidable because that's bullshit. There is always a choice, you are just too comfortable and/or inflexible to use an alternative.

      These days Microsoft is the "alternative" and Linux is the incumbent. A vast majority of large data centers run on Linux. Microsoft is the outsider trying to break in, but without any compelling story beyond pure spin and with a chronically horrible brand reputation. I sense that a few diehard Microsoft-addled PHBs will go the Azure way nonetheless, and hilarity will ensue for everyone except the victims.

      • 1) Do not use Microsoft products 2) Rinse and repeat. Don't tell me it's unavoidable because that's bullshit. There is always a choice, you are just too comfortable and/or inflexible to use an alternative.

        These days Microsoft is the "alternative" and Linux is the incumbent. A vast majority of large data centers run on Linux. Microsoft is the outsider trying to break in, but without any compelling story beyond pure spin and with a chronically horrible brand reputation. I sense that a few diehard Microsoft-addled PHBs will go the Azure way nonetheless, and hilarity will ensue for everyone except the victims.

        Operating systems run on data centers, not vice versa.

        You can run Linux on Azure.
        http://www.windowsazure.com/en-us/manage/linux/tutorials/virtual-machine-from-gallery/ [windowsazure.com]
        Stop the lame FUD, it only makes you look stupid and uninformed.

        • A vast majority of large data centers run Linux as their infrastructure, and run Linux as the host OS on the data center servers. There, is that clear enough even for a Microsoft troll?

        • You can run Linux on Azure.
          Stop the lame FUD, it only makes you look stupid and uninformed.

          you should read TFA yourself before slighting someone. it states that azure is being deeply integrated into microsoft products that dont run on azure itself (e.g. automatic backup). these are features that only work with Azure. now let's say your business becomes dependent on one of these features. you are now locked-in.

          • That doesn't make any sense. How is it lock-in when it's trivial to switch to another backup solution? How is switching away from Azure Backup more difficult than switching from a 3rd party back up service? TFA talks about how signing up for Azure Backup makes it easier to use other services. DUH. It's like having a Gmail account makes it easy to upload video to Youtube. Doesn't mean that you're getting locked into Gmail.

            • That doesn't make any sense. How is it lock-in when it's trivial to switch to another backup solution? How is switching away from Azure Backup more difficult than switching from a 3rd party back up service? TFA talks about how signing up for Azure Backup makes it easier to use other services. DUH. It's like having a Gmail account makes it easy to upload video to Youtube. Doesn't mean that you're getting locked into Gmail.

              *facepalm*
              RTFA already.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Shame on them for making a good product and trying to push it to their users.

    Automatic backups with client side encryption? Oh I bet that crypt algorithm is something they can break! It just has to be, Microsoft is pure evil, after all.
    Windows servers come with Active Directory enabled? Ohh this Active Directory thingy is a terrible thing! I bet they are pushing it into their clients just to get them dependant on this old time Microsoft only service, I bet ya.

  • by adisakp (705706) on Thursday October 24, 2013 @06:24PM (#45229427) Journal
    The are using Azure to provide cloud backup (and Azure active directory syncing) and Single Sign-In Services. It's not so much making Azure hard to avoid but actually providing useful utility near seamlessly in Azure.
  • by onyxruby (118189) <onyxruby@NOspam.comcast.net> on Thursday October 24, 2013 @06:26PM (#45229445)

    The cloud is the most hyped word that IT has ever come endured. It is nothing more than the old concept of the mainframe to centralize resources to a given location. People replaced that with thin clients and again it was nothing more than a way to centralize resources to a given location. Now we have the cloud and we are centralizing resources to a given location.

    If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck and swims like duck it must be a duck. Azure and other cloud variants are nothing more than attempts to move everyone to the cloud (and encourage outsourcing of services). However the cloud doesn't even mean a third party provider anymore. You can get a cloud provider to put their cloud services in your own facilities (Amazon and Microsoft Azure both support doing this). It's really nothing more than the old architecture diagram model for saying "the network" that got hijacked by marketing departments.

    All your doing with the cloud is putting resources in a given location. It might be your location, Amazon's, Rack Spaces or any other providers. That's it, there's nothing magical about it. Therefore all Azure is doing is making it easy to put resources in another location. This is something that IT professionals have been doing for over 40 years, changing the name make it special.

    • by havana9 (101033)
      My first dial-up ISP was actually born as timesharing service on mainframes. I dialed up on an actual Unix shell then launched ppp from command line. They still had an option to submit batch jobs to the back end mainframes and pay the CPU use and disk space used. Yes, you had the option to upload and download files with xmodem on their computers.
      My actual DSL, old big telco, with the DSL contract gives me POP3 server, SMTP server, NNTP, server and guess what? 200 megabytes ona FTP server.
      So the idea to
  • by Virtucon (127420) on Thursday October 24, 2013 @06:47PM (#45229615)

    As they say, if you're not leading you're following. By doing these kinds of tie-ins, MSFT is trying to position themselves as innovative but Azure, while good isn't on par with other Cloud services that cost less and deliver more. What'll be really sad is when customers realize that MSFT will start locking them out of using other Cloud solutions because they "cause problems with Windows Server" or "We don't support the use of product x on an untested Cloud solution." That is the way this usually pans out and eventually if you want to use MSFT Server products with "Cloud" that will mean Azure. Usually after that the anti-trust hawks start suing, so I have 2015 in the pool when Amazon, Rackspace and a couple of other Cloud providers sue MSFT for anti-competitive practices.

    • by cybrthng (22291)

      That is not the way it pans out.. You can run Windows on almost every cloud provider there is out there and you can run Linux on Azure too. In fact, Microsoft's licensing is fairly well priced that its either included in your pre-pay budget or billed so cheap its the same price as getting an RHEL license or any OS with support.

      Rackspace and Amazon have millions in revenue from Windows customers, if not billions.

      All hell froze over when Oracle certified its entire app stack and database system on azure.. i

  • Confirmed (Score:5, Funny)

    by Azure Flash (2440904) on Thursday October 24, 2013 @09:41PM (#45230515)
    I can confirm that I am now much more difficult to avoid.

You can do this in a number of ways. IBM chose to do all of them. Why do you find that funny? -- D. Taylor, Computer Science 350

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