At its Build developer conference today, Microsoft announced that it is adding auto scaling for web apps to its Azure cloud-computing platform. This will allow developers to dynamically scale their cloud server capacity on Azure automatically as needed. Users can, of course, set a maximum and minimum number of servers to run at any given time.
Enabling this feature just takes a few clicks in the Azure management console, and in addition to setting the number of servers to use, developers can also set a target CPU load for every one of these servers. Once a web app needs more CPU capacity — or if the storage queue gets too long — it can then spin up a new server.
Besides making apps more responsive, one of the main reasons to use auto scaling is, of course, to save money. There is, after all, no reason to pay for servers that aren’t actually being used. Azure will give users a general idea of how much they can save when they turn this feature on for their accounts.
Autoscale for Windows Azure is in preview now and will be available for free for a limited time.
It’s worth noting that Amazon Web Services has long offered auto scaling for its EC2 cloud computing platform, too, so Microsoft, which was relatively late to cloud computing, is mostly playing catch-up here.