At PDC 2010 we announced the availability of Azure Connect (formerly Project Sydney) which is a part of Azure Virtual Network. This feature allows a easy way of migrating complex application over to Azure.

Azure connect aims at providing a easy but secured way to link your on-premise machines to the roles hosted in Azure so they communicate among themselves with much ease. So no more Service Bus and ACS.

You can now sign up for the Windows Azure Connect CTP via the Windows Azure Management portal.

* All relays for Windows Azure Connect during the CTP are located outside of Windows Azure Data Centers, thus network traffic between Windows Azure roles and Connect relays will be charged as normal Windows Azure bandwidth usage.

So what does Azure Connect exactly do? Its an easy mechanism to setup IP-based network connectivity between on-premises and Windows Azure resources. This enables  direct IP-based network connectivity with you existing on-premises infrastructure.

Some application scenarios for Windows Azure Connect include:

  • Enable enterprise apps, which have migrated to Windows Azure, to connect on-premises servers (e.g. SQL Server ).
  • Help applications running on Windows Azure to domain join on-premises Active Directory. Control access to Windows Azure roles based on existing AD accounts and groups.
  • Remote administration and trouble-shooting of Windows Azure roles. E.g. Remote PowerShell to access info from Windows Azure instances.

Most of these were earlier implemented using Azure AppFabric Service Bus. So its even more important to understand how they are different and when to use what. First thing to keep in mind is that they do not compete instead, they go hand in hand. Here is however a chart of technical specifications of both of these:

Category

Connect

AppFarbic

Purpose An IP-sec connection between the local machines and azure roles.

An application service running on the cloud.

Connectivity IP-sec, Domain-joint NetTcp, Http, Https
Components Windows Azure Connect Driver

Service Bus, Access Control, Caching

Usage

• Azure roles connect to local database server.

• Azure roles use local shared files,  folders and printers, etc.

• Azure roles join the local AD.

• Expose the local service to Internet.

• Move the authorization process to the cloud.

• Integrate with existing identities such as Live ID, Google ID, etc. with existing local services.

• Utilize the distributed cache.

Having understood the specifications of the technologies, lets understand when to use these based on the scenarios.

Scenario Connect AppFabric
I have a service deployed in the Intranet and I want the people can use it from the Internet

 

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I have a website deployed on Azure and need to use a database which deployed inside the company. And I don’t want to expose the database to the Internet

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I have a service deployed in the Intranet and is using AD authorization. I have a website deployed on Azure which needs to use this service

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I have a service deployed in the Intranet and some people on the Internet can use it but need to be authorized and authenticated

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I have a service in Intranet, and a website deployed on Azure. This service can be used from Internet and that website should be able to use it as well by AD authorization for more functionalities

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Roadmap of Azure Connect

  • CTP released - end of 2010
    On-premises agent for non-Windows Azure resources
    Supports Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Server 2008, Windows 7, Windows Vista SP1, and up.
  • Future release
    Enable connectivity using existing on-premises VPN devices

Please watch this PDC session for an overview of Azure Connect. For all new features available with this release please watch the overview webcast.