What is Windows Azure?

I’ve been picking the brains of some of our developers to really get to the bottom of what Windows Azure can provide; it’s interesting and really quite useful so I wanted to share my learning’s.

Firstly to understand what it is, it’s worth just remembering all the things you usually have to consider when developing a new service:  the OS you need to use, the network and how that will interact with the system, storage needs – scale, geography and so on…

Quite a lot really… so wouldn’t it be nice if you didn’t have to get through all that before you start bottoming out your idea? Well that’s what Windows Azure take care of – all those things you need to consider so you can concentrate on making your service great.

Azure is Microsoft’s cloud computing platform. It’s designed to be a place where you can run your service, at scale, on the internet.

Furthermore it takes a service centric view of cloud computing so it manages the entire cycle from design to deployment to ongoing monitoring and deployment of optimal versions of your service.

It consists of three layers:

  1. The Fabric layer, an abstract set of computer resources in the data centre consisting of multiple computers, running virtual machines, running windows.
  2. The Storage service, which is there to help manage the data coming in from your service in a reliable and scalable way.
  3. And the Developer experience.  This packages up the Fabric and Storage layers with all the API’s integrated in visual studio and delivered through an SDK (Software Development Kit).This can then be downloaded for free so you can develop and test the service locally before you deploy to the cloud.

So not only does this remove the stress of the pre-mapping stage, make the development a whole lot easier but you can also manage confidential information in a private cloud whilst rich content can be run in the public cloud AND it also works on a scalable model.

Obviously when you launch a new service you hope the uptake will continue to grow and you’ll reach a peek at some point in the scale of the growth. With a lot of buying models now you need to estimate that peak and pay upfront. Windows Azure runs on a ‘Pay as you go’ model.

If you want to learn more about the using Azure then you can visit www.dev.windowsazure.com

We heart cloud computing…

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