Microsoft Windows Azure Platform is a Microsoft cloud computing platform used to build, host and scale web applications through Microsoft data centers. Azure is classified as
"platform as a service" and forms part of Microsoft's cloud computing strategy, along with its software as a service offering, Microsoft Online Services. The platform consists of various on-demand services hosted in Microsoft data centers and
commoditized through three product brands: these are Windows Azure (an operating system providing scalable compute and storage facilities),
SQL Azure (a cloud-based, scale-out version of SQL Server) and
Windows Azure AppFabric (a collection of services supporting applications both in the cloud and on premise).
The Windows Azure Platform is an application platform in the cloud that allows Microsoft datacenters to host and run applications. It provides
a cloud operating system called Windows Azure that serves as a runtime for the applications and provides
a set of services that allows development, management, and hosting of applications off-premises. All Azure Services and applications built using them run on top of Windows Azure.
Windows Azure has three core components:
The Windows Azure Platform provides an API built on REST, HTTP and XML that allows a developer to interact with the services provided by Windows Azure. Microsoft also provides
a client-side managed class library which encapsulates the functions of interacting with the services. It also integrates with Microsoft Visual Studio so that it can be used as the IDE to develop and publish Azure-hosted applications.
Windows Azure provides the following services
The Windows Azure platform uses a specialized operating system, called Windows Azure, to run its "fabric layer" — a cluster hosted at Microsoft's datacenters that manages computing and storage resources of the computers and provisions the
resources (or a subset of them) to applications running on top of Windows Azure. Windows Azure has been described as
a "cloud layer" on top of a number of Windows Server systems, which use Windows Server 2008 and a customized version of Hyper-V, known as the Windows Azure Hypervisor to provide virtualization of services. The platform includes
five services — Live Services, SQL Azure (formerly SQL Services), AppFabric (formerly .NET Services), SharePoint Services and Dynamics CRM Services — which the developers can use to build the applications that will run in the cloud. A
client library, in managed code, and associated tools are also provided for developing cloud applications in Visual Studio.
Scaling and reliability are controlled by the Windows Azure Fabric Controller so the services and environment do not crash if one of the servers crashes within the Microsoft datacenter and provides the management of the user's web application like memory resources
and load balancing.
The Azure Services Platform can currently run .NET Framework applications compiled for the CLR, while supporting the ASP.NET application framework and associated deployment methods to deploy the applications onto the cloud platform. It can also support PHP
websites. Two SDKs have been made available for interoperability with the Azure Services Platform: the Java SDK for AppFabric and the Ruby SDK for AppFabric. These enable Java and Ruby developers to integrate with AppFabric Internet services. Access to Windows
Azure libraries for .NET, Java, and Node.js is now available under Apache 2 open source license and hosted on GitHub. A new Windows Azure SDK for Node.js makes Windows Azure a first-class environment for Node applications and a limited preview of an Apache
Hadoop-based service for Windows Azure enables Hadoop apps to be deployed in hours instead of days.
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Awesome job, Luigi!
And that's only the beginning, Ed! ;-)