|Initial release||February 1, 2010|
|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.
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, 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 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.
Microsoft released a set of infographics. One poster summarizes  Windows Azure and the features in it. A downloadable PDF version also exists.
- Web sites - High density hosting of web sites. This feature was announced in preview form in June 2012 at the Meet Windows Azure event. 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 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. Other languages may have support through Open Source projects. Microsoft published the source code for their client libraries on GitHub.
- Data management
- SQL Database
- BLOB Storage
- Business Analytics
- SQL Reporting
- Data Marketplace
- Active Directory
- Rights Management
- Access Control Service
- Windows Azure Service Bus
- 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
- 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
- North America
- North-central US - Chicago, IL
- South-central US - San Antonio, TX
- West US - California
- East US - Virginia
- East Asia - Hong Kong, China
- South East Asia - Singapore
- North Europe - Dublin, Ireland
- West Europe - Amsterdam, Netherlands
- Oceania (announced, coming soon)
- Sydney, New South Wales (announced, coming soon)
- Melbourne, Victoria (announced, coming soon)
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 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. 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, 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.
- Amazon Web Services
- Engine Yard
- Enlight cloud* Force.com
- Google App Engine
- Google Compute Engine
- HP Converged Cloud
- IBM SmartCloud Services
Windows Azure outages and service disruptions have occurred from time to time. Some have been system-wide with potentially significant harm.
|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|
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- "Inside Windows Azure's data center, one of world's largest". Neowin. Retrieved 2013-05-28.
- By: Rich MillerMarch 23rd, 2010 (2010-03-23). "Video: Building Microsoft's ITPAC Container". Data Center Knowledge. Retrieved 2013-05-28.
- January 16, 2012 (2012-01-16). "Windows Azure Data Center Locations World Wide | Joran Markx". Joranmarkx.wordpress.com. Retrieved 2013-05-28.
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- Bowers, Toby. "Windows Azure expands Downunder - Microsoft Australia Blog - Site Home - MSDN Blogs". Microsoft. blogs.msdn.com.
- "UPDATED: 24 Nodes Available Globally for the Windows Azure CDN Including New Node in Doha, QT - Windows Azure - Site Home - MSDN Blogs". Blogs.msdn.com. 2011-02-24. Retrieved 2013-05-28.
- "Two New Nodes for the Windows Azure CDN Enhance Service Across Asia - Windows Azure - Site Home - MSDN Blogs". Blogs.msdn.com. 2010-09-02. Retrieved 2013-05-28.
- Sunday Business Post[dead link]
- "Microsoft’s new Dublin Data Centre to support demand for online services for business and consumers".
- Toor, Amar (2011-06-30). "Microsoft: European cloud data may not be immune to the Patriot Act". Engadget.com. Retrieved 2013-06-27.
- "Windows Azure Trust Center". Windowsazure.com. Retrieved 2013-06-27.
- "Windows Azure Trust Center Compliance". Windowsazure.com. Retrieved 2013-06-27.
- "Summary of Windows Azure Service Disruption on Feb 29th, 2012". Blogs.msdn.com. 2012-03-09. Retrieved 2013-06-27.
- "Windows Azure outage hits Europe". Gigaom.com. 2012-07-26. Retrieved 2013-06-27.
- "Microsoft pins Azure outage on network miscue". Gigaom.com. 2012-07-27. Retrieved 2013-06-27.
- Microsoft’s Azure storage service goes down, locking out corporate customers from their data[dead link]
- Bryan Bishop. "Xbox Live and Windows Azure suffering from extended outages". Theverge.com. Retrieved 2013-06-27.
- "Microsoft's Windows Azure cloud hit by worldwide management interuption". www.pcworld.com. 2013-10-31. Retrieved 2013-11-03.
- Chappell, David (October 2008). "Introducing Windows Azure". Microsoft.
- "Stairway to Azure (3): Componentes de Cómputo y Almacenamiento". WarNov Developer Evangelist. Microsoft. 20 December 2013.