The Windows Azure Platform is Microsoft’s Windows Platform as a Service (PaaS) offering that runs on servers and related network infrastructure located in Microsoft data centres and is connected to the public Internet. The platform consists of a highly scalable (elastic) cloud operating system, data storage fabric and related services delivered by physical or logical (virtualized) Windows Server 2008 instances. The Windows Azure Software Development Kit (SDK) provides a development version of the cloud-based services, as well as the tools and APIs needed to develop, deploy, and manage scalable services in Windows Azure, including Visual Studio 2008 or 2010 templates for a standardized set of Azure applications. Below image illustrates the platform’s primary cloud and developer components.
According to Microsoft, the primary uses for Azure are to
❑ Add web service capabilities to existing packaged applications
O Build, modify, and distribute applications to the Web with minimal on-premises resources
❑ Perform services, such as large-volume storage, batch processing, intense or high-volume computations, and so on, off premises
❑ Create, test, debug, and distribute web services quickly and inexpensively
O Reduce costs and risks of building and extending on-premises resources
❑ Reduce the effort and costs of IT management