David Chappell has put together a white paper that provides an early look into how your application architecture changes with the introduction of Azure Services Platform.
Chappell explains the platform in detail for architects and technical decision makers. Azure Services Platform is a group of cloud technologies, each providing a specific set of services to application developers. The components of the Azure Services Platform can be used by local applications running on a variety of systems, including various flavors of Windows, mobile devices, and others.
The value proposition is that your customers don't need to build their own data center to maintain the data. Instead, Chappell says, "Rather than buying, installing, and operating its own systems, for example, an organization can rely on a cloud provider to do this for them."
He then explains each of the components of the services platform in detail. And he provides scenarios where the platform provides you with important advantages.
- Windows Azure. "It’s a platform for running Windows applications and storing their data in the cloud." It includes management and compute resources for hosting your application. You can store binary large data (blobs) or data in what you think of as tables. You access the data through a REST-ful query language. You can currently build apps in managed code, but unmanaged code support is planned for 2009. You can build .NET applications for ASP.NET and Windows Communication Foundation (WCF).
- .NET Services. "It’s also possible to provide cloud-based services that can be used by either on-premises applications or cloud applications. Filling this gap is the goal of .NET Services." You may have heard of this in the past as BizTalk Services. .NET Services includes Access Control, Service Bus, and Workflow.
- SQL Services. These "provide a set of cloud-based services for storing and working with many kinds of data, from unstructured to relational." This is the database in the cloud. Both SOAP and REST-ful interfaces are provided. Although it's written on top of SQL Server, your application doesn't have to provide a pre-defined schema. SQL Data Services doesn’t require your customers to manage their own database management systems.
- Live Services. This is a diverse set of resources. Information in Live Services can also be accessed as an Atom or RSS feed, letting an application learn about changes to this data. Users specify what data and what devices can share that data in a mesh. "A mesh-enabled application can potentially execute on any machine in a user’s mesh—a Windows machine, a Macintosh, or a Windows Mobile device—and it always has access to the same (synchronized) data."
He then goes deeper into each of the technologies in the white paper.
You can download his white paper from Microsoft download at Introducing the Azure Services Platform: An Introduction to Windows Azure, .NET Services, SQL Services, and Live Services.