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Windows Azure
Windows Azure logo.jpg
Developer
Microsoft
Website Official website
Source model Closed source / Shared source

Microsoft's Windows Azure Platform is a cloud platform offering, which went into production on January 1, 2010, that "provides a wide range of internet services that can be consumed from both on-premises environments or the internet"[1] (though the platform itself is not made available for on-premises deployments[2]). It is significant in that it is Microsoft's first step into cloud computing following the launch of the Microsoft Online Services offering.

Contents

Overview

Azure Services Platform is an application platform in the cloud that allows applications to be hosted and run at Microsoft datacenters. 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.[3] All Azure Services and applications built using them run on top of Windows Azure.

Windows Azure have three core components Compute, Storage, Fabric. As name suggested Compute provides computation environment with Web Role and Worker Role while Storage focuses on providing scalable storage (Blobs, Tables, Queue) for large scale needs.

The hosting environment of Windows Azure is called the Fabric Controller - which pools individual systems into a network that automatically manages resources, load balancing, geo-replication and application lifecycle without requiring the hosted apps to explicitly deal with those requirements.[3] In addition, it also provides other services that most applications require — such as the Windows Azure Storage Service that provides applications with the capability to store unstructured data such as binary large objects, queues and non-relational tables.[3] Applications can also use other services that are a part of the Azure Services Platform.

Azure Services Platform provides an API built on REST, HTTP and XML that allows a developer to interact with the services provided by Windows Azure. A client-side managed class library is also provided that 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.

Implementation

The Azure Services 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[4], known as the Windows Azure Hypervisor[5] to provide virtualization of services.[6]

The platform includes five services — Live Services, SQL Services (which is now Microsoft SQL Azure), .NET Services, SharePoint Services and Dynamics CRM Services[7] — 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 don't crash if one of the servers crash 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. Two SDKs have been made available for interoperability with the Azure Services Platform: The Java SDK for .NET Services and the Ruby SDK for .NET Services. These enable Java and Ruby developers to integrate with .NET Services.

References

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