Windows Azure is an infrastructure that Microsoft has created to build, distribute and manage applications and services through a global network. Furthermore, it represents a cloud computing platform which involves a big number of computers that are connected through the Internet, or any other communication network.
Cloud computing is associated with distributed computing over a network, and it reflects the possibility to operate a program or an application on a large number of computers that are connected at the same time. Usually the services that are based on network seem to be delivered by by real server hardware when they are in fact provided by virtual hardware that are imitated by a software. The software is operating on one or more real machines. These network-based services are called cloud computing, because the virtual servers don’t exist, which means that they can be moved and scaled similar to a cloud, without having to be a physical object.
The Windows Azure cloud computing platform provides both PaaS and IaaS options and it supports a various number of tools, programming languages and frameworks. Microsoft-specific and third-party systems and software are also included in the services that it features. Although it was released on February, 2010, it developed some new features that are available since June, 2012. Here are some of the most important ones:
• Authors of sites are allowed to build webpages by using PHP, Node.js, or ASP.NET and distribute them by using Git, Team Foundation Server, Mercurial or FTP.
• The developers of websites can migrate infrastructure and applications without modifying the existing code because they can operate virtual machines such as Windows Server and Linux machines.
• The Windows Azure platform supports multi-tier deployments and scenarios.
• By using the Microsoft SQL Server technology, the SQL Database can create and extend applications into the cloud. It can integrate them with the help of Active Directory, Hadoop and Microsoft System Center.
• It features a PaaS that can serve for encoding, streaming and for protecting certain contents. This PaaS can be identified as Media services.
• It provides an API built on HTTP, REST, and XML that allows a site developer to interact with the services that are delivered by Windows Azure. A client-side library that integrates the functions of interacting with the services is also offered by Microsoft.
For those who are interested in infographics, we inform you that Microsoft has released one poster that sums up all the aspects that Windows Azure futures. Furthermore, you can have access to a downloadable PDF version, as it already exists.