Azure Services Platform

Azure Services Platform
Windows Azure
Part of the Windows family
Windows Azure logo.png
Windows Azure
Website Official website
Release date 1 February 2010; 20 months ago (2010-02-01)[1][citation needed]
Source model Closed source

The Windows Azure Platform[2] is a Microsoft cloud platform used to build, host and scale web applications through Microsoft data centers. Windows Azure Platform is thus classified as platform as a service and forms part of Microsoft's cloud computing strategy, along with their software as a service offering, Microsoft Online Services. The platform consists of various on-demand services hosted in Microsoft data centers and commoditized through three product brands. These are Windows Azure[3] (an operating system providing scalable compute and storage facilities), SQL Azure (a cloud-based, scale-out version of SQL Server) and Windows Azure AppFabric (a collection of services supporting applications both in the cloud and on premise). Microsoft has announced free Ingress for all the customers of Azure from 1 July 2011.

Microsoft has also published plans to offer the Windows Azure Platform Appliance, which can be hosted in non-Microsoft data centers. This will enable resellers, such as HP, Dell, Fujitsu and eBay, to offer cloud services based on the Microsoft Azure Platform.[4]



The Windows Azure Platform is an application platform in the cloud that allows Microsoft datacenters to host and run applications. It provides a cloud operating system called Windows Azure that serves as a runtime for the applications and provides a set of services that allows development, management and hosting of applications off-premises.[5] All Azure Services and applications built using them run on top of Windows Azure.

Windows Azure has three core components: Compute, Storage and Fabric. As the names suggest, Compute provides a computation environment with Web Role, Worker Role, and VM Role while Storage focuses on providing scalable storage (Blobs, non-relational Tables, and Queues) for large-scale needs. Relational Database functionality is offered through SQL Azure, which is a scalable version of SQL Server that runs on the Azure platform.

Fabric (Windows Azure Fabric) makes up the physical underpinnings of the Windows Azure platform as the network of interconnected nodes consisting of servers, high-speed connections, and switches. Conceptually, the repetitive pattern of nodes and connections suggests a woven or fabric-like nature. Compute and Storage components are part of the Fabric.

Fabric resources and applications and services running on those resources are managed by the Windows Azure Fabric Controller service. It acts as the kernel of the Windows Azure distributed cloud operating system, providing scheduling, resource allocation, device management, and fault tolerance for the nodes in the Fabric. It also provides high-level application models for intelligently managing the complete application lifecycle, including deployment, health monitoring, upgrades, and de-activation.

The Windows Azure Platform provides an API built on REST, HTTP and XML that allows a developer to interact with the services provided by Windows Azure. Microsoft also provides a client-side managed class library which encapsulates the functions of interacting with the services. It also integrates with Microsoft Visual Studio so that it can be used as the IDE to develop and publish Azure-hosted applications.

Windows Azure became commercially available on 1 Feb 2010.[citation needed]

Windows Azure also offers Content Delivery (CDN) services as an option. The Azure CDN enables worldwide low-latency delivery of static content from Azure Storage to end-users from 24 data centers worldwide.[6] [7]

Windows Azure ranked first among all cloud-platform providers in Cloud speed test conducted by application performance management vendor Compuware. [8]

Azure Platform Components

  • Windows Azure Compute
    • Web Role
    • Worker Role
    • VM Role
  • Windows Azure Storage
    • Table
    • Queue
    • Blob
  • SQL Azure
    • SQL Azure Data Sync
    • SQL Azure Reporting
  • Content Delivery Network
  • Azure AppFabric
    • Access Control
    • Caching
    • Service Bus
  • Windows Azure Fabric Controller
  • Azure Market Place
  • Azure Virtual Network
    • Azure Connect
    • Azure Traffic Manager


The Windows Azure platform uses a specialized operating system, called Windows Azure, to run its "fabric layer" — a cluster hosted at Microsoft's datacenters that manages computing and storage resources of the computers and provisions the resources (or a subset of them) to applications running on top of Windows Azure. Windows Azure has been described as a "cloud layer" on top of a number of Windows Server systems, which use Windows Server 2008 and a customized version of Hyper-V,[9] known as the Windows Azure Hypervisor[10] to provide virtualization of services.[11]

The platform includes five services — Live Services, SQL Azure (formerly SQL Services), AppFabric (formerly .NET Services), SharePoint Services and Dynamics CRM Services[12] — which the developers can use to build the applications that will run in the cloud. A client library, in managed code, and associated tools are also provided for developing cloud applications in Visual Studio. Scaling and reliability are controlled by the Windows Azure Fabric Controller so the services and environment do not crash if one of the servers crashes within the Microsoft datacenter and provides the management of the user's web application like memory resources and load balancing.

The Azure Services Platform can currently run .NET Framework applications compiled for the CLR, while supporting the ASP.NET application framework and associated deployment methods to deploy the applications onto the cloud platform. It can also support PHP websites. Two SDKs have been made available for interoperability with the Azure Services Platform: The Java SDK for AppFabric and the Ruby SDK for AppFabric. These enable Java and Ruby developers to integrate with AppFabric Internet services.


October 2008 (PDC LA)

  • Announced the Windows Azure Platform
  • First CTP of Windows Azure

March 2009

  • Announced SQL Azure Relational Database

November 2009

  • Updated Windows Azure CTP
  • Enabled full trust, PHP, Java, CDN CTP and more
  • Announced VM Role, Project Sidney, Pricing and SLAs
  • Project “Dallas” CTP

February 2010

  • Windows Azure Platform commercially available

June 2010

  • Windows Azure Update
    • .NET Framework 4
    • OS Versioning
    • CDN
  • SQL Azure Update (Service Update 3[13])
    • 50GB databases
    • Spatial data support
    • DAC support

October 2010 (PDC)

  • Platform Enhancements
    • Windows Azure Virtual Machine Role
    • Role enhancements
    • Admin mode, Startup tasks,
    • Full-IIS support
    • Extra Small Instances
  • Windows Azure Connect
    • Access to on-premise resource for cross-premise apps
    • Support for Domain-joining VMs
    • Direct role-instance connectivity for easier development
    • Use your existing remote administration tools
  • Improved Dev / IT Pro Experience
    • New Windows Azure Platform Management Portal
    • Multiple users & roles for management
    • Remote Desktop
    • Enhanced Dev Tools
    • PHP Development
    • Marketplace


Some datacenters have servers grouped inside containers - each containing 1800-2500 servers. [14] [15]

The location of the data centers are:

  • North America
    • North-central US - Chicago, IL
    • South-central US - San Antonio, TX
  • Asia
    • East Asia - Hong Kong, China
    • South East Asia - Singapore
  • Europe
    • West Europe - Amsterdam, Netherlands
    • North Europe - Dublin, Ireland

The CDN nodes are located in 24 countries.[16][17][18]

Microsoft Azure in Ireland

As of July 2010, “Microsoft had completed 6,000 Irish installations of its cloud-based Windows Azure platform”.[19] Executives at Microsoft are hoping that this figure will rise to 100,000 installations by 2011.[19] Examples of companies using Windows Azure in Ireland are Aer Lingus and HR Locker. “Aer Lingus, is using Azure to create an interactive web application that integrates route maps with their reservation and booking process”.[20] Whereas HR Locker, a Web 2.0 provider of HR solutions to small to medium size companies was built on Window’s Azure cloud based computing platform. HR Locker chose to build their application on Windows Azure with the intention of improving scalability, backup, security and the various other issues associated with hosting.[21]

The $500 million facility[22] is one of the largest construction projects in Ireland over last 12 months and has generated approximately 1 million man-hours of work with a peak workforce of around 2,100 workers. The data center will also provide approximately 35-50 jobs in the Dublin area. The facility, which began operations on July 1, 2009, currently covers 303,000 square feet (2.815 hectares), with 5.4 mega watts of critical power available to deliver services to consumers and business customers. Over time, the data center can expand to a total of 22.2 mega watts of critical power to support future growth.



  1. ^ "Windows Azure Platform Launch schedule". Microsoft. Retrieved 15 January 2011. 
  2. ^ "Windows Azure Platform". Microsoft. Retrieved 15 January 2011. 
  3. ^ "Windows Azure". Microsoft. Retrieved 15 January 2011. 
  4. ^ "Windows Azure Platform Appliance". Microsoft. Retrieved 15 January 2011. 
  5. ^ "Windows Azure FAQ". Microsoft. Retrieved 16 April 2009. 
  6. ^ "Windows Azure CDN Announcement". Microsoft. 
  7. ^ "UPDATED: 24 Nodes Available Globally for the Windows Azure CDN Including New Node in Doha, QT". Microsoft. 
  8. ^
  9. ^ Keith Ward. "More Azure Hypervisor Details". Virtualization Review. Retrieved 16 April 2009. 
  10. ^ Alessandro Perilli. "Windows Azure uses a hypervisor but it’s not Hyper-V". Virtualization Info. Retrieved 16 April 2009. 
  11. ^ Cesar de la Torre (2 November 2008). "Microsoft Azure Services Platform". Microsoft. Retrieved 18 November 2008. 
  12. ^ Microsoft Azure Services Platform
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^ a b Sunday Business Post
  20. ^ Silicon: Microsoft Azure
  21. ^ Microsoft Ireland
  22. ^ "Microsoft’s new Dublin Data Centre to support demand for online services for business and consumers.". 

External links

Official downloads

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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