Another announcement at PDC today from Ray Ozzie was the Azure Services Platform. This 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.
Key components of the Azure Services Platform include the following:
- Windows Azure for service hosting and management, low-level scalable storage, computation and networking
- Microsoft SQL Services for a wide range of database services and reporting
- Microsoft .NET Services which are service-based implementations of familiar .NET Framework concepts such as workflow and access control
- Live Services for a consistent way for users to store, share and synchronize documents, photos, files and information across their PCs, phones, PC applications and Web sites
- Microsoft SharePoint Services and Microsoft Dynamics CRM Services for business content, collaboration and rapid solution development in the cloud
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. This further solidifies Microsoft's wiliness to open up the developer platform.
As you can see below, the Azure Services Platform aligns quite well with the Microsoft vision of Software-plus-Services and overall services strategy by offering customers, developers, and businesses a transformation in connecting devices, business, productivity, and software. Azure provides the backbone for Microsoft's cloud based computing platform.
Azure is a platform that will complement your existing IT environments or data centers by providing services in the cloud. the cloud based processing runs in Microsoft's data centers and is optimized for cloud computing scenarios. You may be asking, "will Microsoft continue to innovate and invest in Server products"? Of course, the Windows Server tram addressed this right away on the Windows Server blog. They say:
We will continue to innovate and ship Windows Server for both on-premise application and infrastructure scenarios and will ensure that customers continue to have choice in choosing the platform that best meets their need, whether on-premise or in the cloud. - Bill Hilf, General Manager, Windows Server
If you want some more information there are some initial source out there:
- Azure Services Home Page
- Azure's Customer Technology Preview
- Issues and Constraints of Azure (MSDN)
- Demo videos
- Frequently Asked Questions
- PC Magazine Coverage
- Windows Server blog