What is Windows Azure

This article introduces Windows Azure. Windows Azure is an operating system for the cloud, it is designed for utility computing and provides facilities to write your apps, host your apps, manage your apps and store your data.

Windows Azure

As we know Windows Azure is an operating system for the cloud, it is designed for utility computing and provides facilities to write your apps, host your apps, manage your apps and store your data. We can say Windows Azure provides a good developer experience, good compute power, good service management for you apps and good storage for your data.

Cloud Development is slightly different from the traditional in-house model. In Cloud Development most of the time everything is virtualized and distributed, and per-instance reliability is much lower so overall reliability is much higher.

Simply by this we can understand, what Windows Azure is.

Windows Azure is an OS for the data center.

  • Model: Treat the data center as a machine
  • Handles resource management, provisioning, and monitoring
  • Manages application lifecycle
  • Allows developers to concentrate on business logic

Shared Pool

It provides a shared pool of computers, disks and networks.

  • Virtualized storage, compute and network
  • Illusion of boundless resources

Distributed Applications

Provides common building blocks for distributed applications.

  • Reliable queuing, simple structured storage, SQL storage
  • Application services like access control and connectivity

The Windows Azure Service Model

A Windows Azure application is called a “service”.

  • Definition information
  • Configuration information
  • At least one “role”

The service "process"

Roles are like DLLs in the service "process".

  • Collection of code with an entry point that runs in its own virtual machine

Role Types

There are currently the following three role types:

  1. Web Role: IIS7 and ASP.NET in Windows Azure-supplied OS
  2. Worker Role: arbitrary code in Windows Azure-supplied OS
  3. VM Role: uploaded VHD with customer-supplied OS

Main Services

So overall there are the following four main services of Windows Azure:

  • Compute services
  • Network services
  • Data services
  • App services

Compute services

Windows Azure compute services provide the processing power required for cloud applications to be able to run. Windows Azure currently offers the following four compute services:

  • Virtual Machines This service provides you with a general-purpose computing environment that lets you create, deploy, and manage virtual machines running in the Windows Azure cloud.
  • Web Sites This service provides you with a managed web environment you can use to create new websites or migrate your existing business website into the cloud.
  • Cloud Services This service allows you to build and deploy highly available and almost infinitely scalable applications with low administration costs using nearly any programming language.
  • Mobile Services This service provides a turnkey solution for building and deploying apps and storing data for mobile devices.

Network services

Windows Azure network services provide you with various options for how Windows Azure applications can be delivered to users and datacenters. Windows Azure currently offers the following two network services:

  • Virtual Network This service allows you to treat the Windows Azure public cloud as if it is an extension of your on-premises datacenter.
  • Traffic Manager This service allows you to route application traffic for the user who is using the application to Windows Azure datacenters in three ways: for best performance, in round robin fashion, or using an Active/Passive failover configuration.

Data services

Windows Azure data services provide you with various ways of storing, managing, safeguarding, analyzing, and reporting business data. Windows Azure currently offers the following five data services:

  • Data Management This service lets you store your business data in SQL databases, either with dedicated Microsoft SQL Server virtual machines, using Windows Azure SQL Database, using NoSQL Tables via REST, or using BLOB storage.
  • Business Analytics This service enables ease of discovery and data enrichment using Microsoft SQL Server Reporting and Analysis Services or Microsoft SharePoint Server running in a virtual machine, Windows Azure SQL Reporting, the Windows Azure Marketplace, or HDInsight, a Hadoop implementation for Big Data.
  • HDInsight This is Microsoft's Hadoop-based service that brings a 100 percent Apache Hadoop solution to the cloud.
  • Cache This service provides a distributed caching solution that can help speed up your cloud-based applications and reduce database load.
  • Backup This service helps you protect your server data offsite by using automated and manual backups to Windows Azure.
  • Recovery Manager Windows Azure Hyper-V Recovery Manager helps you protect business critical services by coordinating the replication and recovery of System Center 2012 private clouds at a secondary location.

App services

Windows Azure app services provide you with ways of enhancing the performance, security, discoverability, and integration of your cloud apps that are running. Windows Azure currently offers the following seven app services:

  • Media Services This service allows you to build workflows for the creation, management, and distribution of media using the Windows Azure public cloud.
  • Messaging This consists of two services (Windows Azure Service Bus and Windows Azure Queue) that allow you to keep your apps connected across your private cloud environment and the Windows Azure public cloud.
  • Notification Hubs This service provides a highly scalable, cross-platform push notification infrastructure for applications running on mobile devices.
  • BizTalk Services This service provides Business-to-Business (B2B) and Enterprise Application Integration (EAI) capabilities for delivering cloud and hybrid integration solutions.
  • Active Directory This service provides you with identity management and access control capabilities for your cloud applications.
  • Multifactor Authentication This service provides an extra layer of authentication, in addition to the user's account credentials, in order to better secure access for both on-premises and cloud applications. (According to Microsoft-Documentation)

This has been quite theoretical. In the next article we will play with the “Windows Azure Management Portal”. Meanwhile do some more exercises with Google and Books.