Windows Azure is Microsoft’s cloud-based application platform for developing, managing, and hosting applications off-site. Azure consists of several components: the cloud operating system itself; SQL Azure, which provides database services in the cloud; and .NET services. Below we’ll look at the reasons to consider using Windows Azure as your cloud computing platform.
Familiarity of Windows
Azure is based on Windows, so you can write applications in the same programming languages you’ve used for Windows apps: Visual Basic, C++, C#, etc. This makes it easy for organizations to find developers who already have the skills to create applications for the Azure platform. And due to the fact that the Azure environment is much like the standard Windows environment, it’s easier to develop a cloud version of an existing Windows application.
Scalability and flexibility
Using Azure, you can easily create applications that run reliably and scale from 10 to 10 thousand or even 10 million users — without any additional coding. Azure Storage provides scalable, secure, performance-efficient storage services in the cloud. After you create a Web app, you can specify the number of processors for the application to use. If the application needs to scale up to meet growing demand, it’s easy to change the settings to use more processors. The “pay as you go/pay as you grow” approach lets you bring your new apps to market sooner and respond more quickly to changes in your customers’ needs.
Cost benefits and pricing model
Taking advantage of resources in the cloud allows you to decrease your costs for building and expanding your on-premises resources. You can also reduce the cost of IT administration because the hardware is being taken care of for you, off-premises. The cost of creating, testing, debugging, and distributing Web-based applications goes down because you have to pay only for the computer processing time and storage space you need at a given time.
Data center in the cloud
SQL Azure provides organizations with all the benefits of an enterprise-class data center without the hassle, headaches, and cost of maintaining such an entity. You get high availability and reliability with redundant copies of your data and automatic failover. No more worries about backing up data yourself.
With Azure, you can develop hybrid applications that allow your on-premises applications to use cloud services, such as the cloud database and storage services. Communications services work between on-premises applications and the cloud, as well as mobile devices. Azure supports open standards and Internet protocols, such as HTTP, XML, SOAP, and REST. There are SDKs for Java, PHP, and Ruby, for applications written in those languages, and Azure tools for Eclipse.
Knowing that security is one of the biggest concerns for companies considering a move to the cloud, Microsoft designed Azure with security in mind. The .NET Access Control Service provides a way to integrate identities, and Security Assertion Markup Language (SAML) tokens are used by applications to determine whether a user is allowed access. Microsoft has designed its compliance framework to meet regulatory requirements.
As you can see Windows Azure is an open and flexible cloud platform that gives you possibilities to create, deploy and manage applications and services affectively.
What do you think about this platform? Do you have anything to add?