Another week of not-much-interesting happening in new Microsoft Azure features for developers, save that DevTest Labs is now generally available.
Basically, DevTest Labs is a means of quickly spinning up preconfigured, disposable virtual machines. It’s a packaging of the features inherent in resource groups, Azure Resource Manager (ARM) templates, and role-based access control lists.
I can see some value in this if your company isn’t ready for cloud-first deployments / wants or needs to keep application servers on premises: Using Azure for temporary test-environment deployments makes a lot of sense, especially in terms of cost.
I also see value in this approach for large, distributed teams; it’s easier to grant certain users permission to spin up testing resources, directly from Visual Studio, than it is to route everything through a CIO at the home office. And I guess DevTest Labs makes sense if you’re primarily developing desktop software: Create a few VM images configured as you might encounter them in the real world; spin up workstation instances; test; nuke.
Overall, I don’t see the point behind DevTest Labs. The immediate reason is because I can already use PowerShell and ARM templates to automate this kind of provisioning.
But in the long view, it especially makes little sense. The Microsoft development world is moving toward platform-as-a-service, containers and HTML5 / Universal Windows Apps*; seems to me giving a quick and easy means for developers to deploy virtual machines is kind of like holding on to Windows 7. It’s convenient, but you’re riding convenience right into the grave.
Odds and ends
- A Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.8 VM image has been added to the Marketplace. This is overdue, in my opinion; CentOS, Ubuntu, openSUSE and the like are fine, but genuine RHEL is what many enterprise-level operators want.**
- If you want to spin up a Web App from the gallery, you can’t do it in the “classic” portal any more; you need to do it from the “new new” portal. I like the “classic” portal and tend to go there first, but the “new new” portal is increasingly the only one that will configure services correctly, short of coming up with a PowerShell cmdlet library that takes up 270MB of disk space.
- API Management is available in the two new Canada regions.
- Japan West now has the new Dv2 virtual machines. Dv2 VMs basically have SSDs and are tuned for read-write performance, so they make great SQL Server instances and the like.