Make the most of Microsoft Azure Service Fabric

Microsoft's next-gen PaaS, Service Fabric, offers unique benefits -- including support for stateful services and Reliable Actors. Here's how to get all you can from it

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When Microsoft launched Azure, it made the ambitious decision to offer it as a PaaS-only cloud that primarily targeted .Net developers who wanted to build scalable, composable applications. But customers wanted more, such as the ability to upload existing workloads in VMs. So Microsoft started offering IaaS and Azure’s original PaaS was pushed to the sidelines.

Now we’ve come full circle. Customers are gradually realizing that PaaS is key to using the cloud effectively, which is why all the major cloud providers from Amazon to Google to IBM now offer PaaS functionality -- including Microsoft, which recently relaunched Azure’s PaaS in the shape of Azure Service Fabric.

The rediscovery of PaaS stems partly from an evolution in how we think about cloud applications -- and in how we build them. Instead of treating applications as monolithic blocks of code, we’re more comfortable thinking about them as coordinated networks of microservices, a concept at the heart of both AWS Lambda and Azure Service Fabric.

Born in the cloud

Microsoft’s original Azure PaaS was built on a microservices model. It focused on delivering applications quickly while taking advantage of the cloud’s ability to scale. That model remains at the heart of Service Fabric, though you now also have the option to build both stateful and stateless microservices, with support for actors to handle distributed application development.

Originally unveiled as a developer preview at Build 2015, November’s Connect event saw Microsoft open up Service Fabric to more users, with a public preview now available on Azure. But note that Service Fabric has already been proven in action, as it powers many Microsoft services, from Azure Document DB to Intune to Cortana.

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