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Quest Readies Azure Admin Tools

Tools vendor Quest Software is looking to make it easier to manage applications running in Microsoft's Windows Azure cloud service.

The company is at Tech-Ed this week in Atlanta showing three new tools: Cloud Subscription Manager, Cloud Storage Manager and Spotlight on Azure.

When it comes to the cloud, "The largest challenge that we come across in talking to our customers seems to be around cost and cost management, particularly in understanding whether you're under-deployed or over-deployed with your cloud assets," said Quest's chief architect Douglas Chrystall.

Cloud Subscription Manager pulls in all the objects that you've got running in Azure. It will analyze those objects, look for objects which are not being used and notify the administrator. It could be a database, additional work or server roles that have been created, storage created that's just not getting used or perhaps being under-utilized, Chrystall explained.

It may recognize, for example, that a database hasn't been used for six weeks, and perhaps it should be decommissioned from the cloud. "It will actually give you an analysis where we report back," he said.  "We've found organizations that have literally managed to decide to [lower] their cloud costs pretty much overnight just by running the product for the first time."

Cloud Storage Manager helps manage the cost of storing data in Azure. Storing data in the cloud can become costly, especially if it's data that isn't being used. Cloud Storage Manager allows you to browse, search and basically analyze your storage accounts in Azure.

"What we've done with the Cloud Storage Manager is give you a Windows Explorer way of examining cloud storage," Chrystall said. "We allow you to browse through your cloud storage just as if it was directories and subfolders." That's important, he noted, because cloud storage is flat. There's no such thing as a physical directory or subdirectory -- it's all managed from the root node, he pointed out.

"We give you a way of managing that storage basically like a virtual directory structure, and we allow you to copy files from your on-premise storage systems through to the cloud-based storage systems and vice versa," he said. Cloud Storage manager also lets you synchronize an on-premise directory with a cloud directory.

Spotlight on Azure provides performance and diagnostics for apps running in the Microsoft cloud. With the tools Microsoft provides, you can monitor and look at the performance of individual roles and see how they're performing, but there's no way to see how a fully deployed application is performing as a whole, Chrystall said. 

"From running Spotlight on Azure, within seconds you can tell exactly how your Azure application is performing," he said.

All three of these tools consist of software that is installed and runs on desktops. They are now in beta and are slated for release this summer. The company hasn't disclosed pricing yet but indicated the Cloud Storage Manager will be offered as a freebie.

Asked if this software will be offered for other cloud services, Chrystall indicated that is the plan for later this year, though he declined to elaborate other than to say Quest is looking at the top three or four cloud providers.

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on May 17, 2011 at 11:58 AM


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