Windows Azure Fabric Controller – Important component of Microsoft’s Cloud Computing Services

Microsoft data center stores all the data of Windows Azure storage and all Windows Azure applications. Windows Azure Fabric Controller controls and manages the servers, the set of machines which are dedicated to Windows Azure and the software that runs on the Microsoft Data Center. 

The Windows Azure Fabric Controller is a distributed application that is replicated among the group of machines. It has its own set of resources in its own environment like computers, load balancers, switches etc. Since Windows Azure Fabric Controller can communicate with the fabric agent on each machine; it keeps a track of all Windows Azure application in the fabric.

This helps the Windows Azure Fabric Controller to perform useful activities like monitoring all the running applications. The Windows Azure Fabric Controller fabric controller decides where new applications will run, and also selects the physical server so that the hardware is utilized optimally. This is achieved using the configuration information which is uploaded with each Windows Azure application. Windows Azure Fabric Controller Fabric controller achieves this using the configuration information which is uploaded with each application on Windows Azure. The configuration file is an XML file which explains the various instances of the application, number of virtual machines to be created for the application, etc.

Because of this understanding, Windows Azure Fabric Controller does a number of things like, monitoring all running applications, decides where a new application should run, optimizes hardware utilization by choosing the physical server, etc. to name few.  It is fabric controller’s responsibility to monitor the applications.

Developers are given choice of five virtual machines to choose from:

  • Extra-small, with a single-core 1.0 GHz CPU, 768MB of memory, and 20GB of instance storage.
  • Small, with a single-core 1.6 GHz CPU, 1.75 GB of memory, and 225 GB of instance storage.
  • Medium, with a dual-core 1.6 GHz CPU, 3.5 GB of memory, and 490 GB of instance storage.
  • Large, with a four-core 1.6 GHz CPU, 7 GB of memory, and 1,000 GB of instance storage.
  • Extra-large, with an eight-core 1.6 GHz CPU, 14 GB of memory, and 2,040 GB of instance storage.

For extra-small instance, an instance shares a processor core with other extra-small instances. Each instance has one or more dedicated core. This also means that the application performance can be predicted no matter how long an instance is performed.

The Windows Azure Fabric Controller also manages the operating system in each instance for Web and Worker roles which includes OS Patch updates, system updates and software updates. This allows developers to focus exclusively on the creation of applications and not worry about the management of the platform. 

One thing to keep in mind is that the Windows Azure Fabric Controller always assumes that at least two instances of each function are underway. This allows you to turn one of them to update their software without stopping the entire application. This is one of the reason why running a single instance of any feature of Windows Azure is generally a bad idea.

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