Hosted Domain Controllers in Windows Azure

Cloud computing technologies like Windows Azure have been creating a buzz for quite a while.  Personally, I had been reluctant to jump on the bandwagon.  I do very little work on our development projects as I spend my time on things like Exchange, Lync and Active Directory.  I was aware of cloud computing’s ability to grant CPU clock cycles for offloading development or database work.  But in my opinion it was not going to make much of an impact on my world.  My opinion changed while I was working at TechEd 2012.  One of the hands on labs I had the pleasure of proctoring focused on deploying domain controllers using Windows Azure.

(Or should I say “into” Azure.  I guess at some point I’ll need to ponder the grammatical implications of Windows Azure. But for now, let’s get back to the facts!)

I was amazed by Azure’s ability to host virtual machines and I was amazed at how easy it was to deploy and configure the servers and networking.  It is amazing.  Even more amazing is the reception that clients have had when discussing Windows Azure.  I now have two pending projects where we are going to deploy a domain controller into Azure.  The clients could not be more disparate – a sprawling enterprise and a midsized company.  And they both have very different problems in their networks.  Yet, they are both looking to resolve the same issue – network reliability.  Hosting a domain controller in an external Geo-redundant platform gives both companies the same external reliability.

When you think about it, Azure is leveling the playing field in a sense.  A few years ago this capability would have been out of the financial reach of small and midsized companies.  For large companies, the cost to implement would have likely been too high to justify a single-purpose implementation.  Today, Azure allows us to click a box and decide how big each VM will be, and each company gets access to the same technological capabilities.  I think we’ll see this technology leveling the playing field in some areas as time goes on.

It’s not too often that a technology comes along that gets me excited.  In fact, the last technology that excited me was the advent of database availability groups in Exchange 2010, which I first experienced in 2009.  Windows Azure has me excited, and I can’t wait to see where it takes us!

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