Software Design Blog

Journey of Rinat Abdullin

Expecting Windows Azure Admin Mode and VM Roles This Year

Steve Marx has mentioned that Admin Mode might be coming to Azure later this year:

I don’t think there’s a way (yet) to modify application pool settings without managing your own Hosted Web Core process. Admin mode along with some other features coming later this year should address this, but I don’t have a more specific timeline to share.

Also there was a mention of:

Have two features coming this year: admin mode and the VM role which allows you to deploy a VM instead of the base image.

I’m not exactly sure, what an Admin mode is supposed to do. It might be a friendly way to run command-line against the current Worker and Web Roles or just pre-configured custom Windows VM images that have GUI components and allow remote desktop connections (RDP seems to be frequently requested by Azure users).

Windows Azure VM Roles, on the other side, make a lot of sense. That’s how Infrastructure-as-a-Service cloud computing providers work (i.e.: Amazon, Rackespace). They also sound like a valid answer to multiple questions and problems.

For example, they help in integrating with solutions and systems, that require custom software (i.e. talking to Oracle from Azure or opening QuickBooks). Currently this is either impossible on Azure or requires a lot of hacks.

Hosting custom servers (port mapping might be interesting) and managing custom scalability scenarios would be available. For example, there will be no desperate need in MSMQ for Azure, since we could simply let Lokad.CQRS solutions use Apache QPID message server coupled with XMPP for logging and maintenance scenarios.

I’ll also be able to stop pondering about connecting Rackspace/Amazon VMs to Azure Cloud as a fast way to solve some Lokad challenges (at a cost of managing additional infrastructure complexity).

Apparently, VM Roles might come at a higher costs:

  • Windows will not be able to keep VM’s auto-updated same way as Azure Worker and Web Roles (even with auto-update, you are still responsible for keeping all your updates).
  • It’s harder to share the identical memory pages between multiple guests on the same Hyper-V.
  • Additional flexibility might take away some implicit scalability. We’ll need to address these issues explicitly using existing scenarios and practices from the IaaS cloud environments.

All in all, it looks like really sharp tool might be coming to Azure this year. I really look forward to giving it a try.