|Initial release||1 February 2010|
|License||Closed source for platform, Open source for client SDKs|
Microsoft Azure // (formerly Windows Azure before 25 March 2014) 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 PaaS and IaaS services and supports many different programming languages, tools and frameworks, including both Microsoft-specific and third-party software and systems. Azure was released on 1 February 2010.
Microsoft Azure is Microsoft's cloud application platform. In June 2012, Microsoft Azure released the following new features:
- Websites allows developers to build sites using ASP.NET, PHP, Node.js, or Python and can be deployed using FTP, Git, Mercurial 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 can be used to create scalable applications and services. It supports multi-tier architectures 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. It also 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 Microsoft Azure Platform provides an API built on REST, HTTP, and XML that allows a developer to interact with the services provided by Microsoft 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.
- Web sites - High density hosting of web sites. This feature was announced in preview form in June 2012 at the Meet Microsoft Azure event. Customers can create web sites in PHP, ASP.NET, Node.js, or Python, 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 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 in 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. The General Availability version of Virtual Machine was released in May 2013.
- 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. There are specific software development kits (SDKs) provided by Microsoft for Python, Java, Node.js and .NET. Other languages may have support through Open Source projects. Microsoft published the source code for their client libraries on GitHub.
- Remote App
- Data management
- Business Analytics
- Active Directory
- Rights Management
- Access Control Service
- Multi-Factor Authentication
- Microsoft Azure Service Bus
- Media Services
- Mobile Services
- Virtual Network
- Express Route
- Traffic Manager
- Site Recovery
- BizTalk Services
- Visual Studio Online
- Application Insights
Microsoft Azure uses a specialized operating system, called Microsoft 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 Microsoft Azure. Microsoft 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 Microsoft Azure Hypervisor to provide virtualization of services.
Scaling and reliability are controlled by the Microsoft 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
- Announced SQL Azure Relational Database
- Updated Windows Azure CTP
- Enabled full trust, PHP, Java, CDN CTP and more
- Announced VM Role, Project Sidney, Pricing and SLAs
- Project "Dallas" CTP
- Windows Azure Platform commercially available
- Windows Azure Update
- .NET Framework 4
- OS Versioning
- SQL Azure Update (Service Update 3)
- 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
- Traffic manager
- SQL Azure reporting
- HPC scheduler
- Web sites
- Virtual Machines for Windows and Linux (backed by persistent storage)
- Python SDK
- New portal
- Locally redundant storage
- Windows Azure renamed to Microsoft Azure
- New BETA preview management portal released
- Azure experiences an outage affecting several customers - "An internal server error has occurred".
- Azure Machine Learning public preview 
- Microsoft Azure experiences outage affecting major websites including MSN.com.
Data Center Regions
Some data center regions have servers grouped inside containers - each containing 1800-2500 servers. As of 2014, the servers running in China (North) and China (East) are available for customers signed up through 21Vianet only, the local Microsoft Azure operator. Microsoft Azure officially launched its Oceania location on 27 October 2014, the Australia Regions is currently limited to customers with billing addresses in Australia and New Zealand. Pricing, terms and conditions may differ between regions.
- North America
- Central US - Iowa
- North-central US - Chicago, IL
- South-central US - San Antonio, TX
- West US - California
- East US - Boydton, VA
- South America
- Brazil - São Paulo State
- China (North) - Beijing
- China (East) - Shanghai
- East Asia - Hong Kong
- South East Asia - Singapore
- North Europe - Dublin, Ireland
- West Europe - Netherlands
- Japan East - Saitama
- Japan West - Osaka
- Oceania 
- Sydney, New South Wales
- Melbourne, Victoria
Deployment in Ireland
Construction of the $500 million facility required 1 million man-hours of work with a peak workforce of around 2,100 workers. The facility, which began operating on 1 July 2009, currently covers 303,000 square feet (2.815 hectares), with 5.4 megawatts of critical power available. Over time, the data center is expandable to a total of 22.2 megawatts 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. However, Microsoft Azure is compliant with the E.U. Data Protection Directive (95/46/EC). To manage privacy and security related concerns, Microsoft has created a Microsoft Azure Trust Center, and Microsoft 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 Microsoft Azure Trust Center Compliance page. Of special note, Microsoft Azure has been granted JAB Provisional Authority to Operate (P-ATO) from the U.S. government in accordance with guidelines spelled out under the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program. FedRAMP is a U.S. government program that provides a standardized approach to security assessment, authorization, and continuous monitoring for cloud services used by the federal government.
Documented Microsoft Azure outages and service disruptions.
|2012-02-29||Incorrect code for calculating leap day dates|
|2012-07-26||Misconfigured network device|
|2013-02-22||Expiry of an SSL certificate||Xbox Live, Xbox Music and Video also affected|
|2013-10-30||Worldwide partial compute outage|
|2014-11-18||Azure storage upgrade caused reduced capacity across several regions||Xbox Live, Windows Store, MSN, Search, Visual Studio Online among others were affected.|
As of February 18, 2015 Azure has been available for 99.9459% of the past year.
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- Sunday Business Post[dead link]
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- Microsoft’s Azure storage service goes down, locking out corporate customers from their data[dead link]
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- Service Status | CloudHarmony
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