The Azure Services Platform (Azure) is Microsoft’s answer to the cloud computing platform. Azure provides an operating system and a set of developer services, all required to build applications on the cloud.
As with any cloud computing service, Azure has the following benefits from the Business standpoint:
- Reduce the need for Upfront Technology Purchases
- Higher Availability and Reliability of applications
- Security provided by the Microsoft Data Centers
- Pay-as-you-use model, to reduce the operational IT costs
- Scale up or Scale down the Infrastructure, at comparitively negligible costs
- Relieving Businesses from other IT costs like Software upgrades, Patch management etc. and instead concentrate on the needs of the users
Azure platform provides native support to Microsoft Technologies – like Microsoft .NET Framework and Microsoft Visual Studio Development environment – thus enabling developers to leverage their experience for building applications on the cloud. As per information on the Azure website, more programming languages and development environments like Eclipse, PHP, Ruby and Python, will be supported in the near future. Azure provides an open, standards-based and interoperable environment with support for multiple internet protocols, including HTTP, REST, SOAP, and XML.
In brief, Azure Services Platform provides following services out-of-the-box (currently).
- Windows Azure – Cloud Services Operating System that serves as Development, Service Hosting and Service Management Environment
- Live Services – Platform for Handling User Data and application resources, to build rich social applications
- Microsoft SQL Services – Extends the SQL Server capability into a web-based, distributed relational database, that can store structured, semi-structred and unstructured data
- Microsoft .NET Services – Access controls for security, enterprise bus for inter-application communication and hosted workflow execution
- Microsoft Sharepoint Services and Dynamics CRM Services – Providing access for developers to Sharepoint and CRM Services
Following resources should give you more information on the Azure Services Platform:
About Azure Services Platform