Computing in the cloud has tons of advantages where applications and data are hosted in an internet-accessible environment and infrastructure is maintained by somebody else. An environment where we can optionally run our on-premises applications while taking advantage of the cloud services provided. Precisely, you are spotting the ground-breaking platform provided by Microsoft, the Azure Services Platform.
The Azure Services Platform of Microsoft is a group of internet-dimensioned cloud services that provides an open and interoperable environment with support for HTTP, REST, SOAP, and XML. It is designed to provide off premises services and minimized on-premises resources, and to trim down the necessity of technology acquisition and infrastructure management. Azure offers an operating system, set of developer services, and cloud applications in building an on-line and on-premises applications: Windows Azure, Live Services, Microsoft SQL Services, Microsoft .NET Services, and in the future, Microsoft SharePoint Services and Dynamics CRM Services.
The Windows Azure offers cloud operating system for running applications and storing their data in Microsoft data centers via internet. As illustrated, it is the pedestal of other services in the spectrum of Azure Platform.
The .NET Services provides cloud-based environment in developing distributed applications both in cloud and on-premises. The service is fortified with access control that manages user authentication and authorization. A service bus that manages network address translation, and a workflow service that handles long-running logical processes are also made available.
The SQL Services is a cloud-based database that allows cloud and on-premises applications manipulate their data in Microsoft data centers through SOAP and RESTful interfaces.
Microsoft bonded several Windows Live applications into Live Services. Through the Live Operating Environment in the Live Framework, Live Services data, such as contacts, are made accessible. Any application, even running in operating system other than Windows, could access Live Services data in the cloud through the Live Operating Environment.
Zooming to Windows Azure
Windows Azure provides computation services, simple data storage services, and development tools. With its computation services, Windows Azure facilitates operation of Microsoft ASP.NET applications in the cloud. Internet Information Services 7.0 and Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5 SP1 is also available to provide service hosting environment. Additionally, Code Access Security policies and logging, and local scratch storage APIs are also provided.
Every instance of running applications is hosted in a Virtual Machine operating a 64-bit Windows Server 2008 and architected on top of Windows Azure Fabric. A running application may hold a Web role or Worker role instance. A Web role instance is hosted in Internet Information Services 7.0 and accepts request via HTTP in a load balanced environment. It can mainly be put into service through ASP.NET, or Windows Communications Foundation. A Worker role instance, however, only accepts request from a Web role instance, and either writes its response to the Windows Azure storage through ADO.NET Web Services or sends it to the requesting applications. In addition, each Virtual Machine contains a Windows Azure agent that exposes Windows Azure APIs designed for logging, notification, and other administrative actions. Microsoft Visual Studio 2008, nonetheless, provides project templates for both Web and Worker roles development.
Windows Azure attends to data storage needs of applications: blobs, tables, and queues. Blobs are managed and stored in containers and sub dividedly transmitted in a form of data blocks. Windows Azure provides tables, as mentioned earlier. Notwithstanding that they are non-relational tables, data are stored with definite range of data types, and are accessible through LINQ language rules. Windows Azure queues, on the other hand, are primarily designed as communication mechanism of Web role and Worker role instances.
At length, the platform provides development tools that enable developers to perform local debugging, a complete offline development environment through Microsoft Visual Studio 2008. An inclusive command-line SDK tools for reliable, scalable, low risk and no distractions Web application development are available as well.
For more information, please visit http://www.microsoft.com/azure/default.mspx .