Microsoft on Wednesday announced the preview of a distributed cache service it is adding to its Windows Azure platform in a bid to position its cloud infrastructure as a service ahead of leading incumbent Amazon Web Services.
Much like Amazon ElastiCache, Windows Azure cache service is a distributed, in-memory solution designed to support web-scale applications. The service improves performance by giving applications quick access to data, significantly reducing latency when compared to relying on disk-based databases. The service can be used with any Azure application regardless of whether it’s hosted within Linux or Windows virtual machines.
“You can instantiate a dedicated instance of a Windows Azure cache service for each of your apps, or alternatively share a single Cache Service across multiple apps,” Scott Guthrie, Microsoft’s corporate vice president in Microsoft’s Development Division wrote on his blog Wednesday, adding that the service can be used both for app partitioning as well as allowing multiple applications to access the same shared cache resource. Guthrie also said that support for Azure Mobile Services is in the pipeline, too.
Like ElastiCache, the Azure cache service is compatible with memcashed, one of the most widely used memory caching systems. But Microsoft’s offering promises easy integration with .NET applications and it supports the same .NET Cache API used for its in-role and cloud-based cache service, so applications developed with the latest Azure SDK won’t need re-coding. Guthrie also says that the new Azure cache service will come with auto-scaling functionality that can spin nodes up or down depending on the application’s needs; Amazon’s offering requires manually adding or subtracting nodes.
The service is currently available in three tiers that include dedicated and shared cache orchestrations: Basic – Shared cache in sizes from 128MB to 1GB, Standard – Dedicated cache in sizes from 1GB to 10GB, and Premium – Dedicated cache in sizes from 5GB to 150GB, and is now available from Microsoft’s East US, West US, North Europe, West Europe, East Asia, and South East Asia datacentres.