Windows Azure Services Platform is a Windows-resembling cloud computing architecture. Microsoft’s Windows Azure cloud operating system is used as a run-time for applications and includes three main components: Compute (computation environment), Storage (scalable storage), and Fabric (hosting environment). Together with Windows Azure, Microsoft provides such standard .NET services, as Live, SQL, AppFabric, SharePoint, etc.
.NET developers will appreciate the fact that a great number of the existing Microsoft technologies (virtual servers, the .NET Framework, Internet Information Server (IIS), MS Visual Studio, databases, queues, enterprise service bus, workflows, authentication, etc.) were implemented in Azure. Thus, if you know C#, C++, or Visual Basic, you will need a couple of weeks to get fluent with Windows Azure. Another good thing is that Windows Azure supports open standards, such as REST/SOAP and XML.
In comparison with other cloud vendors (Amazon, Mosso, GoGrid), Windows Azure does not give its users complete system control (e.g., administrator access to the Virtual Machines used), which limits administration options. Though Azure services (particularly, AppFabric) are available through .NET Framework and interoperability SDKs for Java and Ruby developers, usage of these services may be a problem for developers working with other programming languages.
Windows Azure can be mostly welcomed by .NET developers, who can apply their knowledge in the familiar Visual Studio environment to build cloud apps. The simplified usage of virtual machines can be appreciated by non-technical customers.
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