Cloud Based Computing – Windows Azure


imageThe big news for day 1 at PDC 2008 was the introduction Windows Azure, Microsoft's "operating system for the cloud," and its associated Azure Services Platform.Today, during a keynote speech at the Microsoft Professional Developers Conference 2008 (PDC2008), Ray Ozzie, Microsoft Corp.’s chief software architect, announced Windows Azure, “the cloud-based service foundation underlying its Azure Services Platform, and highlighted this platform’s role in delivering a software plus services approach to computing.” The Azure Services Platform is an industry-leading move by Microsoft to help developers build the next generation of applications that will span from the cloud to the enterprise datacenter and deliver compelling new experiences across the PC, Web and phone.

What is Windows Azure ?

Windows Azure serves as the foundation for developing applications that run in the cloud. What this means is that it essentially turns servers across the Internet into a massive distributed operating system, running applications that both interact with PC-based software and run within a Web browser.

Windows Azure could be also defined as a cloud services operating system that serves as the development, service hosting and service management environment for the Azure Services Platform. Windows Azure provides developers with on-demand compute and storage to host, scale, and manage internet or cloud applications. Windows Azure supports a consistent development experience through its integration with Visual Studio. In the early stages of CTP, .NET managed applications built using Visual Studio will be supported. Windows Azure is an open platform that will support both Microsoft and non-Microsoft languages and environments. Windows Azure welcomes third party tools and languages such as Eclipse, Ruby, PHP, and Python.

What’s Included in Windows Azure ?

Computation Services :

  • Ability to run Microsoft ASP.NET Web applications or .NET code in the cloud
  • Service hosting environment that includes Internet Information Services 7.0 and Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5 SP1
  • Security supported by flexible Code Access Security policies
  • Small runtime API that supports logging and local scratch storage
  • Web portal that helps you deploy, scale, and upgrade your services quickly and easily

Simple data storage services :

  • Blobs, tables, and queues hosted in the cloud, close to your computation
  • Authenticated access and triple replication to help keep your data safe
  • Easy access to data with simple REST interfaces, available remotely and from the data center

Development Tools :

  • Complete offline development environment, including computation and storage services
  • Complete command-line SDK tools and samples
  • Visual Studio add-in that enables local debugging

What is the Azure Services Platform ?

The Azure™ Services Platform (Azure) is an internet-scale cloud services platform hosted in Microsoft data centers, which provides an operating system and a set of developer services that can be used individually or together. Azure’s flexible and interoperable platform can be used to build new applications to run from the cloud or enhance existing applications with cloud-based capabilities. Its open architecture gives developers the choice to build web applications, applications running on connected devices, PCs, servers, or hybrid solutions offering the best of online and on-premises.

Azure reduces the need for up-front technology purchases, and it enables developers to quickly and easily create applications running in the cloud by using their existing skills with the Microsoft Visual Studio development environment and the Microsoft .NET Framework. In addition to managed code languages supported by .NET, Azure will support more programming languages and development environments in the near future. Azure simplifies maintaining and operating applications by providing on-demand compute and storage to host, scale, and manage web and connected applications. Infrastructure management is automated with a platform that is designed for high availability and dynamic scaling to match usage needs with the option of a pay-as-you-go pricing model. Azure provides an open, standards-based and interoperable environment with support for multiple internet protocols, including HTTP, REST, SOAP, and XML.

Microsoft also offers cloud applications ready for consumption by customers such as Windows Live™, Microsoft Dynamics™, and other Microsoft Online Services for business such as Microsoft Exchange Online and SharePoint® Online. The Azure Services Platform lets developers provide their own unique customer offerings by offering the foundational components of compute, storage, and building block services to author and compose applications in the cloud.

The Azure Services

The Cloud Computing and Services Platform Diagram

- Windows Azure : Windows® Azure is a cloud services operating system that serves as the development, service hosting and service management environment for the Azure Services Platform. Windows Azure provides developers with on-demand compute and storage to host, scale, and manage internet or cloud applications. Windows Azure supports a consistent development experience through its integration with Visual Studio. In the early stages of CTP, .NET managed applications built using Visual Studio will be supported. Windows Azure is an open platform that will support both Microsoft and non-Microsoft languages and environments. Windows Azure welcomes third party tools and languages such as Eclipse, Ruby, PHP, and Python.

- Live Services : Live Services is a set of building blocks within the Azure Services Platform for handling user data and application resources. Live Services provides developers with an easy on-ramp to build rich social applications and experiences, across a range of digital devices that can connect with one of the largest audiences on the Web.

- Microsoft SQL Services : Microsoft SQL Services extends the capabilities of Microsoft SQL Server into the cloud as a Web-based, distributed relational database. It provides Web services that enable relational queries, search, and data synchronization with mobile users, remote offices and business partners. It can store and retrieve structured, semi-structured, and unstructured data.

- Microsoft .NET Services : Microsoft .NET Services make developing loosely coupled cloud-based applications easier. .NET Services includes access control to help secure your applications, a service bus for communicating across applications and services, and hosted workflow execution. These hosted services allow you to easily create federated applications that span from on-premises environments to the cloud.

- Microsoft SharePoint Services & Dynamics CRM Services : In the future, developers will have access to SharePoint & CRM functionality for collaboration and building stronger customer relationships. With the flexibility to use familiar developer tools like Visual Studio, developers will be able to rapidly build applications that utilize SharePoint and CRM capabilities as developer services for their own applications. Developers can expect a breadth of SharePoint & CRM capabilities across the spectrum of on-premises, online & the Azure Services Platform.

What is in the Community Technology Preview ?

During the Community Technology Preview (CTP), all developers can download both the Windows Azure SDK and the Windows Azure Tools for Microsoft Visual Studio, and simulate a hosted environment on their local system. Developers will also have access to a suite of readiness resources including virtual hands-on labs, webcasts, and documentation such as white papers. Support will be provided through developer-to-developer blogs and forums.

Developers who are already invited to the CTP program, which includes attendees of the Microsoft Professional Developers Conference 2008 (PDC), will be able to host their services in Windows Azure through Microsoft data centers. Developers will also receive free trial access to the rich set of cloud-optimized modular components including Microsoft SQL Services, Live Services, and Microsoft .NET Services.

Register here to access Azure services*
* As part of pre-release community review, limited allocation of registration slots may temporarily place you on a waiting list until additional slots open up

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