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Windows azure

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Windows azure

Windows Azure
Developer(s) Microsoft
Initial release February 1, 2010; 4 years ago (2010-02-01)[1]
Operating system
License Closed source for platform, Open source for client SDKs

Windows Azure is a cloud computing platform and infrastructure, created by Microsoft, for building, deploying and managing applications and services through a global network of Microsoft-managed datacenters. It provides both platform as a service (PaaS) and infrastructure as a service (IaaS) services and supports many different programming languages, tools and frameworks, including both Microsoft-specific and third-party software and systems. Windows Azure was released on February 1, 2010.[1]


Windows Azure is Microsoft's cloud application platform. Windows Azure can be used to build a web application that runs and stores its data in Microsoft datacenters. It can connect on-premises applications with each other or map between different sets of identity information.

In June 2012, Windows Azure released the following new features:

  • Websites allows developers to build sites using ASP.NET, PHP, or Node.js and can be deployed using FTP, Git, or Team Foundation Server.
  • Virtual machines let developers migrate applications and infrastructure without changing existing code, and can run both Windows Server and Linux virtual machines.
  • Cloud services - Microsoft's Platform as a Service (PaaS) environment that is used to create scalable applications and services. Supports multi-tier scenarios and automated deployments.
  • Data management - SQL Database, formerly known as SQL Azure Database, works to create, scale and extend applications into the cloud using Microsoft SQL Server technology. Integrates with Active Directory and Microsoft System Center and Hadoop.
  • Media services - A PaaS offering that can be used for encoding, content protection, streaming, and/or analytics.

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, Git, and Eclipse.

In October 2012, Microsoft released a downloadable PDF poster that summarizes Windows Azure and the features in it. The PDF contains clickable areas pointing to additional documentation.


  • Web sites - High density hosting of web sites. This feature was announced in preview form in June 2012 at the Meet Windows Azure event.[2] Customers can create web sites in PHP, .NET, and Node.js, or select from several open source applications from a gallery to deploy. This comprises one aspect of the Platform as a Service (PaaS) offerings for the Windows Azure Platform.
  • Virtual machines - Announced in preview form at the Meet Windows Azure event in June 2012[2] the Windows Azure Virtual Machines comprise the Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) offering from Microsoft for their public cloud. Customers can create Virtual Machines, of which they have complete control, to run the Microsoft Data Centers. As of the preview the Virtual Machines supported Windows Server 2008 and 2012 operating systems and a few distributions of Linux. Since May 2013, the Virtual Machine offering left the preview state and went into General Availability state (GA).
  • Cloud services - Previously named "Hosted Services", the Cloud Services for Windows Azure comprise one aspect of the PaaS offerings from the Windows Azure Platform. The Cloud Services are containers of hosted applications. These applications can be internet-facing public web applications (such as web sites and e-commerce solutions), or they can be private processing engines for other work, such as processing orders or analyzing data.
    • Developers can write code for Cloud Services in a variety of different programming languages; however, there are specific software development kits (SDKs) started by Microsoft for Python, Java, node.JS and .NET.[3] Other languages may have support through Open Source projects. Microsoft published the source code for their client libraries on GitHub.[4]
  • Data management
    • SQL Database
    • Tables
    • BLOB Storage
  • Business Analytics
    • SQL Reporting
    • Data Marketplace
    • Hadoop
  • Identity
  • Messaging
    • Windows Azure Service Bus
    • Queues
  • Media Services
  • Mobile Services


Windows Azure 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, known as the Windows Azure Hypervisor to provide virtualization of services. 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.


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
  • SQL Azure Update (Service Update 3)[5]
    • 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

December 2011

  • Traffic manager
  • SQL Azure reporting
  • HPC scheduler

June 2012

  • Web sites
  • Virtual Machines for Windows and Linux (backed by persistent storage)
  • Python SDK
  • New portal
  • Locally redundant storage


Some datacenters have servers grouped inside containers - each containing 1800-2500 servers.[6][7]

The locations of the data centers[8][9] are:

  • North America
    • North-central US - Chicago, IL
    • South-central US - San Antonio, TX
    • West US - California
    • East US - Virginia
  • Asia
    • East Asia - Hong Kong, China
    • South East Asia - Singapore
  • Europe
    • North Europe - Dublin, Ireland
    • West Europe - Amsterdam, Netherlands
  • Oceania (announced, coming soon)[10]
    • Sydney, New South Wales (announced, coming soon)
    • Melbourne, Victoria (announced, coming soon)

The CDN nodes are located in 24 countries.[11][11][12]

Deployment in Ireland

As of July 2010, Microsoft had completed 6,000 installations of Azure in Ireland.[13] Executives at Microsoft hoped that this figure would rise to 100,000 installations by 2011.[13]

Construction of the $500 million facility required 1 million man-hours of work with a peak workforce of around 2,100 workers.[14] The facility, which began operating on July 1, 2009, currently covers 303,000 square feet (2.815 hectares), with 5.4 megawatts of critical power available. Over time, the data center can expand to a total of 22.2 mega watts of critical power to support future growth.


Microsoft has stated that, per the USA Patriot Act, the US government can have access to the data even if the hosted company is not American and the data resides outside the USA.[15] However, Windows Azure is compliant with the E.U. Data Protection Directive (95/46/EC). To manage Privacy and Security related concerns, Microsoft has created a Windows Azure Trust Center,[16] and Windows Azure has several of its services compliant with several compliance programs including ISO 27001:2005 and HIPAA. A full and current listing can be found on the Windows Azure Trust Center Compliance page.[17]


Significant outages

Windows Azure outages and service disruptions have occurred from time to time. Some have been system-wide with potentially significant harm.

Date Cause Notes
2012-02-29 Incorrect code for calculating leap day dates[18]
2012-07-26 Misconfigured network device[19][20]
2013-02-22 Expiry of an SSL certificate[21] Xbox Live, Xbox Music and Video also affected[22]
2013-10-30 worldwide partial compute outage[23]


External links

  • Windows Azure Service Dashboard with Current (Un)availability Status
  • Windows Azure
  • MSDN UK Windows Azure Platform
  • Windows Azure Websites
  • The Official Home Page of the Windows Azure platform
  • Introducing Windows Azure, David Chappell, Chappell & Associates
  • "Tribune Transforms Business with Windows Azure"
  • Microsoft Cloud Computing for Government
MSDN Blogs
  • Cloud Computing Tools Blog
  • Conceptual View of Windows Azure in Spanish. Made by Microsoft Developer Evangelist
  • Windows Azure Status (Beta)
  • - Azure Tutorials and News
  • JAzure, a Java API for Azure Storage
  • Microsoft Virtual Academy | Cloud-based learning experience focusing on Microsoft Cloud technologies

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