Microsoft Azure is a platform as a service (PaaS) that enables clients to deploy applications and data into the cloud. There's a lot of talk about the cloud at the moment and it has clearly moved on from where you could dismiss this as a fad. Whilst we certainly don't believe you should rip out your data center's tomorrow we do believe architects should definitely be considering these services.
It's time to stop saying the cloud is not secure and time to start asking how to secure it. The benefits are clear, the implementations have been proven and organizations are already reaping the rewards, is yours?
Azure encompasses more then one service and the follow are extracts from Microsoft's Azure FAQ.
The Windows Azure platform includes a cloud services operating system and a set of developer services, which provide the functionality to build applications that span from consumer Web to enterprise scenarios. Windows Azure and SQL Azure are the key components of the Windows Azure platform.
Windows Azure provides developers with on-demand compute, storage, networking and content delivery capabilities to host, scale and manage Web applications on the Internet through Microsoft data centers. Windows Azure serves as the development, service hosting and service management environment for the Windows Azure platform. Windows Azure is now commercially available in 40 countries.
Microsoft SQL Azure delivers on Microsoft’s SQL Server® Data platform vision of extending the Data platform capabilities to the cloud. SQL Azure provides data services, including a relational database, reporting; and data synchronization with mobile users, remote offices and business partners.
Windows Azure AppFabric provides a comprehensive cloud middleware platform for developing, deploying and managing business applications, and extending the familiar way you build Windows Azure apps today. It enables you to bridge your existing applications to the cloud through secure connectivity across network and geographic boundaries and by enabling a consistent composition model for both Windows Azure and Windows Server. With AppFabric, Microsoft is delivering services that enable developers to build and manage composite applications more easily for both server and cloud environments.
Why consider a platform as a service?
The benefits are well documented
- Agility: Familiar development tools and an underlying infrastructure that’s managed for you enable organizations to respond faster to customer needs, focus on your competitive differentiators, and reach new markets.
- Efficiency: Microsoft operates the Windows Azure platform at internet-scale and benefits from the related economies of scale that it then passes on to customers and partners. You can realize a reduction in Total Cost of Operations of some workloads by up to 30 – 40% over a 3 year period.
- Focus: Customers and partners can focus on delivering services and value to their customers – and not on managing technology infrastructure. The Windows Azure platform enables you to spend less time on operational hurdles and more time focusing on your competitive differentiators.
- Simplicity: You don’t have to worry about procuring, configuring, deploying, managing and scaling servers. The Windows Azure platform also provides high availability built-in. You can utilize existing skills in familiar languages such as .NET and Java to create and manage web applications and services.
- Trust: Receive enterprise class service backed by reliable service level agreements and Microsoft’s deep online services experience.