· The Azure™ Services Platform: A set of cloud-based technologies such as storage, identity, and multi-device sync that extend software development for both enterprise server and PC/browser/phone applications with services on the Web.
· Windows Azure™: A component of the Azure Services Platform that extends the Windows environment to the cloud for developers who want service hosting, scalable storage, and automated service management of their software applications.
Back end infrastructure has historically formed the foundational underpinning of most (if not all) enterprise applications, and is obviously at the core of both business and consumer experiences on the Web. In the enterprise, however, the back end has traditionally supported a set of inward-facing apps, running behind the firewall, within the confines of the enterprise datacenter. As more and more businesses forge a path onto the Web, collaborating with customers and partners, the external, outward-facing nature of these applications introduces a new set of requirements that can only be satisfied by hybrid scenarios in which businesses have a choice of service and software for applications and application components. The fundamental platform requirement is choice and flexibility in developing, operating, and managing such systems in highly varied enterprise deployment environments that are distributed and federated between the enterprise data center and the internet cloud. For developers, this means a platform and programming model that spans the service world and the software world.
For Microsoft, evolving the platform for this new era starts with the fundamentals. We are extending the core developer platform and .NET programming model to the cloud with a set of developer services called the Azure Services Platform. This is a major step function for the platform that extends the Windows programming model to include cloud computing scenarios. At the base level, the Azure Services Platform includes Windows Azure, which offers a platform on which to build scalable applications. This includes virtualized computation, support for familiar tools, languages, frameworks, such as ASP.NET, C#, LINQ, WCF, WF and protocol support for both REST and SOAP, ensuring that the developer skills that exist on our platform today continue to be relevant in the world of cloud computing. Along with this core compute capability, Windows Azure provides scalable storage with support for simple blobs, tables, and queues, as well as a management infrastructure for provisioning and geo-distribution of cloud-based services. Microsoft services such as Live Mesh and Live Meeting are using Windows Azure today, with many others coming on in the next year.
At a higher level of abstraction, the Azure Services Platform provides a rich set of developer services, including .NET Services for cloud-based access control, federated directory, messaging and workflow services, SQL Services as the foundation for structured, relational storage and reporting services, and Live Services as the framework for programmatic access to what you may know today as Windows Live platform technologies (Live service APIs, Live Mesh, Windows Live ID, Virtual Earth, etc.). In the future, service extensions for Dynamics CRM and SharePoint will be made available as well. These developer services are all part of the Azure Services Platform.
Lastly, above the Azure Services Platform, applications like Microsoft Exchange, SharePoint, and Dynamics CRM are offered as commercially available services today, offering the power of choice to businesses of all sizes. This is supported by a set of capabilities unique to the world of hybrid scenarios, such as the ability to federate user identities across the server-service continuum, so a given user can authenticate to a single portfolio of apps, some of which are on-premises, while others are consumed as a service. In addition, consumer and small business services like Windows Live and Office Live will run on the Azure Services Platform, as we continue to bet our growing services business on this technology foundation.