I think that was wires getting twisted as I was typing fast. free to use was what I meant to say (though I will do a google hunt because possible costs is interesting).
more on the cloud...http://venturebeat.com/2013/05/21/xbox-one-azure/
With the debut of the new Xbox One gaming system, we could focus on many things: hardware, flashy games, and entertainment options. But one aspect really gets me fired up: Developers should now be able to use Microsoft Azure’s cloud computing platform to make games more powerful than ever.
Microsoft has been building Azure’s cloud computing capabilities for a long while. Azure has been mostly known as a platform-as-a-service that (primarily .NET) developers use to make the process of app development easier.
Microsoft opened up Azure for pure cloud infrastructure use in June. It now competes with top dogs like Amazon Web Services, Rackspace, and Google Compute Engine.
Steven Martin, the general manager of Azure’s operations team, told us this past October that Azure users are consuming more compute capacity than the entire world used in 1998. As of December, Azure’s cloud storage holds more than 4 trillion objects. It also handles an average of 270,000 requests processed per second, with a peak of 880,000 requests per second.
Azure applications in gaming
Now, let’s see what you could do with all that power.
The first and most obvious application of Azure on Xbox One is making Xbox Live more powerful and useful. All your downloaded games and achievements would be synced and available wherever you are. You would also have dedicated servers for every multiplayer game you participate in. Multiplayer matches would be able to host up to 128 gamers in a single session.
Xbox Live currently runs on 15,000 servers, but it will soon move to a stunning 300,000 servers later this year for the Xbox One launch. That’s a lot of power dedicated to making Xbox Live better.
Second (and this is a bit more crazy), developers can offload computational tasks to the cloud instead of relying on physical hardware to do the heavy lifting. Necessary game computations for physics, rendering, and the like could be immensely enhanced with a connection to powerful virtual servers in the cloud.
“It’s not like on day one, everyone will have figured out how to take advantage of that power,” Microsoft interactive entertainment CMO Marc Whitten told Wired. “It’s just one of those stakes we’re placing.”http://www.bit-tech.net/news/gaming/2013/05/28/xbox-one-cloud/1
Boyd Multerer, partner director of development at Microsoft's Xbox division, confirmed Greenawalt's claims. 'Next gen isn’t just about having lots of transistors local, it’s also about having transistors in the cloud,' claimed Multerer. 'Now you start throwing in servers that are just one hop away and that can you can start doing things like…you look at a game and there’s latency-sensitive load and there’s latency insensitive loads. Let’s start moving those insensitive loads off to the cloud, freeing up local resources and effectively over time your box gets more and more powerful. This is completely unlike previous generations.'
These comments follow those made by Microsoft's Jeff Henshaw in an interview with Official Xbox Magazine, in which it was claimed that each Xbox One console will have access to cloud computing resources equivalent to three times its local compute performance. 'For every physical Xbox One we build, we're provisioning the CPU and storage equivalent of three Xbox Ones on the cloud,' said Henshaw. 'We're doing that flat out so that any game developer can assume that there's roughly three times the resources immediately available to their game, so they can build bigger, persistent levels that are more inclusive for players.'http://windowsitpro.com/windows-azure/azure-future-microsoft
Azure Is the Future of Microsoft
What I'm about to suggest will be controversial in some circles. But it's a message that IT pros need to hear now so they can prepare for the future. And it goes like this: The market for on-premises servers and infrastructure is coming to an end. The future—the end game, if you will—isn't on-prem, and it's not even really a hybrid model, although there will of course be some of that. It's the cloud. And for Microsoft, that means Azure.
Now before you find the pitchforks and light the torches, give me a second. I didn't arrive at this conclusion lightly.
In fact, given my general embrace of cloud computing, you might be surprised to discover that I've been studiously ignoring Windows Azure, Microsoft's cloud OS platform, for the past few years. Frankly, I've always found Azure to be a bit overwhelming. But as part of my continuing move away from on-premises computing services, I've begun evaluating Azure this year again with fresh eyes. And it's starting to make sense to me.
When Microsoft announced Windows Azure and SQL Azure at the October 2008 PDC, functionality was fairly limited compared to the amazing array of services it now offers. On the Windows Azure side, what Microsoft initially created was a new platform, analogous to Windows Server, which allowed businesses to deploy applications to the cloud instead of to their on-site servers. A key scenario included so-called "spiky workloads," where buying, provisioning, and servicing enough on-prem servers for, say, a retail store's temporary annual holiday sales explosion would be prohibitively expensive. But doing so in the cloud would let the store pay only for those resources they needed, when they needed it. Bingo: Problem solved.
That initial Microsoft offering is what cloud computing guys call Platform as a Service, or PaaS. This lets you do things like deploy web-based apps, supporting cloud services, SQL (or third-party) databases, and other components directly to Azure. This model is interesting because it bypasses the complexity of the underlying server—you no longer need to maintain the underlying server in a VM—and lets you focus directly on the task at hand.
Since the initial release of Azure, a lot has changed. SQL Azure has since been renamed to Windows Azure SQL Database, which I think is important. (More on that below.) Azure has been extended with tons of additional services, including some in the Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) model, where the primary use case here is creating a virtual machine that runs on Azure, deploying applications or other code to that virtual server, and then running it from the cloud, standalone, in tandem with other cloud-hosted VMs and services, or in tandem with your own internal servers and services. Microsoft offers Windows Server-based VMs, of course, but also Linux and UNIX VMs too. It's a big, happy, heterogeneous family.
Separately but not coincidentally, Microsoft has also embraced the so-called private cloud model where what I think of as "units of computing"—servers in a data center, for example—can be managed from a single pane, such as is possible with Windows Server 2012 and the new Server Manager. Critics mope that private cloud is nothing more than a rebranding of on-premises computing, but that's not fair or accurate. Private cloud, instead, is a formalization of practices from public cloud computing applied to the data center, and it includes the underlying infrastructure as well as management capabilities (perhaps System Center-based in the Microsoft view). As important, Microsoft supports a hybrid model in which organizations can maintain infrastructure on-prem and in the cloud, and interoperate as required; the formalization of private cloud computing will also enable these organizations to more easily move to "pure" public cloud systems when possible, or at least put more and more of their infrastructure offsite over time.
When I look out over the transformations that are sweeping Microsoft internally right now—check out "The Microsoft Transition and How It Will Affect You" for a recent rundown—I see the makings of a change that will eventually reflect in its own corporate makeup. That is, it's only a matter of time before Microsoft realigns its internal businesses around devices and services. And this new Microsoft will not be split evenly between those two businesses. I'm thinking 75 percent of it will be services.
Azure sits at the top of that Microsoft Services heap. It is, in other words, the primary business of the company going forward.
Today, we have Windows Server and the various Microsoft servers, most of which have cloud analogs. Windows Server and Azure. SQL Server and SQL Azure. System Center and Windows Intune. Office and Office 365. And so on. To ease the transition to the cloud for its customers, Microsoft has created hybrid solutions in these and other businesses. For the short term, the on-premises solutions will be bigger businesses than the cloud services. But that will quickly flip until on-premises servers are deemphasized and then disappear in some cases. Think about the migration away from 32-bit Microsoft servers and use that as a guide for this change. I expect it to happen similarly. (Microsoft is already moving to a model where cloud services get new features more quickly than their on-prem alternatives. Expect that trend to continue too in the meantime.)
Microsoft is a devices and services company. The services part is the biggest part. Azure is the king of Microsoft services. Azure is the future of Microsoft.
Azure is so key to Microsoft's future, in fact, that I'm starting to question the use of the name Windows on that brand. In many ways it doesn't make sense to call such a thing Windows at all. Azure's a nice name. (And Azure SQL Database rolls off the tongue a lot more easily than does Windows Azure SQL Database. Just saying.)http://winsupersite.com/cloud/need-know-windows-azure
Need to Know: Windows Azure
In late 2008, when Microsoft announced sweeping plans to move its server product line to the cloud, few outside the company's Windows Server division even understood what this change in strategy meant for the company and its customers. Now, just over a year later, Microsoft has delivered the first non-beta versions of its core cloud server products, Windows Azure and SQL Azure.
Here's what you need to know about Windows Azure.
It's a new platform
Put simply, Windows Azure is the Windows Server operating system redesigned as a cloud-based service. At a very high level, Windows Azure is much like Windows Server, except that it's hosted by Microsoft at its datacenters and not on-premise at your own company. That is, it provides a platform on which developers can create hosted applications and companies can run hosted applications and store data in the cloud.
But Windows Azure is not simply the current version of Windows Server modified to work in the cloud. Yes, Microsoft did of course start with a Windows Server core to create Windows Azure, but the system was also designed from the start to work as a cloud-hosted service. As such, Windows Azure and Windows Server both have capabilities that are unique to one that are not available in the other. According to Microsoft, the company will continue developing each product separately, all while bringing the respective capabilities of each system closer together. That said, because of their unique focuses, it's likely that they will never truly mirror each other fully.
Another important aspect of Windows Azure is that it works within Microsoft's notion of a hybrid computing model, allowing companies to utilize on premise servers for those tasks that need to be hosted onsite and cloud-hosted services that do not. So your company may choose to host some of its applications and data in the cloud but retain other on premise applications and data as needed. This system can also be utilized to slowly move resources to the cloud over time as you evaluate the cost, effectiveness, and convenience of such a strategy.
Why Windows Azure?
If Windows Azure were simply a hosted version of Windows Server, the value proposition would be simple to understand but basic in functionality. But as alluded to earlier, Windows Azure provides a set of benefits that are unique to this platform.
One such benefit involves so-called "spiky" workloads. The canonical example is an online store that experiences typically predictable traffic during most of the year but then far more unpredictable ("spiky") traffic during the holidays. The traditional responses to such a problem are problematic. You could purchase additional computing resources to handle the spike loads, but then these resources would sit ideal for much of the time. You could partially offset the spiking by moving to a virtualized infrastructure where many workloads were typically virtualized but then migrated to physical hardware when required; this requires architecting, deploying, managing--and paying for--a very complex infrastructure, however.
For those interested in the hybrid approach, Windows Azure also supports a new composite application model via the Windows Azure platform AppFabric technologies. Through AppFabric, developers can build and manage applications that run on premise but access and cache Azure-based resources.