Microsoft Azure

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Microsoft Azure
Microsoft Azure Logo.svg
Developer(s) Microsoft
Initial release February 1, 2010; 8 years ago (2010-02-01)
Operating system Linux, Microsoft Windows
License Closed source for platform, Open source for client SDKs

Microsoft Azure (formerly Windows Azure) /ˈæʒər/ is a cloud computing service created by Microsoft for building, testing, deploying, and managing applications and services through a global network of Microsoft-managed data centers. It provides software as a service (SaaS), platform as a service (PaaS) and infrastructure as a service (IaaS) and supports many different programming languages, tools and frameworks, including both Microsoft-specific and third-party software and systems.

Azure was announced in October 2008 and released in February 1, 2010 as "Windows Azure" before being renamed "Microsoft Azure" on March 25, 2014.[1][2]


Microsoft lists over 600 Azure services,[3] of which some are covered below:


  • Virtual machines, infrastructure as a service (IaaS) allowing users to launch general-purpose Microsoft Windows and Linux virtual machines, as well as preconfigured machine images for popular software packages.[4]
  • App services, platform as a service (PaaS) environment letting developers easily publish and manage websites.
  • Websites, high density hosting[non sequitur] of websites allows developers to build sites using ASP.NET, PHP, Node.js, or Python and can be deployed using FTP, Git, Mercurial, Team Foundation Server or uploaded through the user portal. This feature was announced in preview form in June 2012 at the Meet Microsoft Azure event.[5] Customers can create websites 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 Microsoft Azure Platform. It was renamed to Web Apps in April 2015.[1][6]
  • WebJobs, applications that can be deployed to a WebApp to implement background processing that can be invoked on a schedule, on demand, or run continuously. The Blob, Table and Queue services can be used to communicate between WebApps and WebJobs and to provide state.[citation needed]

Mobile services[edit]

  • Mobile Engagement collects real-time analytics that highlight users’ behavior. It also provides push notifications to mobile devices.[7]
  • HockeyApp can be used to develop, distribute, and beta-test mobile apps.[8]

Storage services[edit]

  • Storage Services provides REST and SDK APIs for storing and accessing data on the cloud.
  • Table Service lets programs store structured text in partitioned collections of entities that are accessed by partition key and primary key. It's a NoSQL non-relational database.
  • Blob Service allows programs to store unstructured text and binary data as blobs that can be accessed by a HTTP(S) path. Blob service also provides security mechanisms to control access to data.
  • Queue Service lets programs communicate asynchronously by message using queues.
  • File Service allows storing and access of data on the cloud using the REST APIs or the SMB protocol.[9]

Data management[edit]

  • Azure Search provides text search and a subset of OData's structured filters using REST or SDK APIs.
  • Cosmos DB is a NoSQL database service that implements a subset of the SQL SELECT statement on JSON documents.
  • Redis Cache is a managed implementation of Redis.
  • StorSimple manages storage tasks between on-premises devices and cloud storage.[10]
  • 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.[11]
  • SQL Data Warehouse is a data warehousing service designed to handle computational and data intensive queries on datasets exceeding 1TB.
  • Azure Data Lake is a scalable data storage and analytic service for big-data analytics workloads that require developers to run massively parallel queries.
  • Azure HDInsight[12] is a big data relevant service, that deploys Hortonworks Hadoop on Microsoft Azure, and supports the creation of Hadoop clusters using Linux with Ubuntu.
  • Azure Stream Analytics is a serverless scalable event processing engine that enables users to develop and run real-time analytics on multiple streams of data from sources such as devices, sensors, web sites, social media, and other applications.


The Microsoft Azure Service Bus allows applications running on Azure premises or off premises devices to communicate with Azure. This helps to build scalable and reliable applications in a service-oriented architecture (SOA). The Azure service bus supports four different types of communication mechanisms:[citation needed][13]

  • Event Hubs, which provide event and telemetry ingress to the cloud at massive scale, with low latency and high reliability. For example an event hub can be used to track data from cell phones such as a GPS location coordinate in real time.[citation needed]
  • Queues, which allow one-directional communication. A sender application would send the message to the service bus queue, and a receiver would read from the queue. Though there can be multiple readers for the queue only one would process a single message.
  • Topics, which provide one-directional communication using a subscriber pattern. It is similar to a queue, however each subscriber will receive a copy of the message sent to a Topic. Optionally the subscriber can filter out messages based on specific criteria defined by the subscriber.
  • Relays, which provide bi-directional communication. Unlike queues and topics, a relay doesn't store in-flight messages in its own memory. Instead, it just passes them on to the destination application.

Media services[edit]

A Paas offering that can be used for encoding, content protection, streaming, or analytics.[citation needed]


A global content delivery network (CDN) for audio, video, applications, images, and other static files. It can be used to cache static assets of websites geographically closer to users to increase performance. The network can be managed by a REST based HTTP API.[citation needed]

Azure has 30 point of presence locations worldwide (also known as Edge locations) as of December 2016.[14]



  • Azure Automation, provides a way for users to automate the manual, long-running, error-prone, and frequently repeated tasks that are commonly performed in a cloud and enterprise environment. It saves time and increases the reliability of regular administrative tasks and even schedules them to be automatically performed at regular intervals. You can automate processes using runbooks or automate configuration management using Desired State Configuration.[15]
  • Microsoft SMA (software)

Machine learning[edit]

  • Microsoft Azure Machine Learning (Azure ML) service is part of Cortana Intelligence Suite that enables predictive analytics and interaction with data using natural language and speech through Cortana.[16]


Azure is generally available in 36 regions around the world. Microsoft has announced an additional six regions.[17] Microsoft is the first hyper-scale cloud provider that has committed to building facilities on the continent of Africa with two regions located in South Africa.[18] Microsoft has some Gold partners available across the globe to sell its products.


Microsoft Azure uses a specialized operating system, called Microsoft Azure, to run its "fabric layer":[citation needed] a cluster hosted at Microsoft's data centers 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.[citation needed]

Scaling and reliability are controlled by the Microsoft Azure Fabric Controller[citation needed], which ensures the services and environment do not fail if one or more of the servers fails within the Microsoft data center, and which also provides the management of the user's Web application such as memory allocation and load balancing.[citation needed]

Azure 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 that encapsulates the functions of interacting with the services. It also integrates with Microsoft Visual Studio, Git, and Eclipse.[citation needed]

In addition to interacting with services via API, users can manage Azure services using the Web-based Azure Portal, which reached General Availability in December 2015.[19] The portal allows users to browse active resources, modify settings, launch new resources, and view basic monitoring data from active virtual machines and services. More advanced Azure management services are available.[20]

Deployment models[edit]

Microsoft Azure offers two deployment models for cloud resources: the "classic" deployment model and the Azure Resource Manager.[21] In the classic model, each Azure resource (virtual machine, SQL database, etc.) was managed individually. The Azure Resource Manager, introduced in 2014,[21] enables users to create groups of related services so that closely coupled resources can be deployed, managed, and monitored together.[22]


Ray Ozzie announcing Windows Azure at PDC 2008, October 27
  • October 2008 (PDC LA) – Announced the Windows Azure Platform
  • March 2009 – Announced SQL Azure Relational Database
  • November 2009 – Updated Windows Azure CTP, Enabled full trust, PHP, Java, CDN CTP and more
  • February 2010 – Windows Azure Platform commercially available
  • June 2010 – Windows Azure Update, .NET Framework 4, OS Versioning, CDN, SQL Azure Update[23]
  • October 2010 (PDC) – Platform enhancements, Windows Azure Connect, improved Dev / IT Pro Experience
  • December 2011 – Traffic manager, SQL Azure reporting, HPC scheduler
  • June 2012 – Websites, Virtual machines for Windows and Linux, Python SDK, new portal, locally redundant storage
  • April 2014 – Windows Azure renamed to Microsoft Azure[1]
  • July 2014 – Azure Machine Learning public preview[24]
  • November 2014 – Outage affecting major websites including[25]
  • September 2015 – Azure Cloud Switch introduced as a cross-platform Linux distribution.[26]
  • September 2017 - Microsoft Azure gets a new logo and a Manifesto[27]


Microsoft has stated that, per the USA Patriot Act, the US government could have access to the data even if the hosted company is not American and the data resides outside the USA.[28] However, Microsoft Azure is compliant with the E.U. Data Protection Directive (95/46/EC).[29][30][contradictory] To manage privacy and security-related concerns, Microsoft has created a Microsoft Azure Trust Center,[31] 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.[32] 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), 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.[33]

Significant outages[edit]

Documented Microsoft Azure outages and service disruptions.

Date Cause Notes
2012-02-29 Incorrect code for calculating leap day dates[34]
2012-07-26 Misconfigured network device[35][36]
2013-02-22 Expiry of an SSL certificate[37] Xbox Live, Xbox Music and Video also affected[38]
2013-10-30 Worldwide partial compute outage[39]
2014-11-18 Azure storage upgrade caused reduced capacity across several regions[40] Xbox Live, Windows Store, MSN, Search, Visual Studio Online among others were affected.[41]
2015-12-03 Active Directory issues[42]
2016-09-15 Global DNS outage[43]
2017-03-15 Storage tier issues[44]
2017-10-03 Fire system glitch[45]


Key people[edit]

  • Jason Zander, Corporate Vice President, Microsoft Azure[46]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Upcoming Name Change for Windows Azure". Microsoft Azure. March 24, 2014. Archived from the original on March 24, 2014. Retrieved August 29, 2016. 
  2. ^ Tharakan, Anya George and Dastin, Jeffery (October 20, 2016). "Microsoft shares hit high as cloud business flies above estimates". Rueters. Thomson Reuters. Retrieved October 21, 2016. 
  3. ^ Directory of Azure Cloud Services,
  4. ^ "How to monitor Microsoft Azure VMs". Datadog. Retrieved September 16, 2016. 
  5. ^ "Meet Windows Azure event June 2012". June 7, 2012. Retrieved June 27, 2013. 
  6. ^ "Web App Service - Microsoft Azure". Microsoft. 
  7. ^ "Mobile Engagement - Microsoft Azure". Retrieved July 27, 2016. 
  8. ^ "HockeyApp - Microsoft Azure". Retrieved July 27, 2016. 
  9. ^ "File Storage". Microsoft. Retrieved January 7, 2017. 
  10. ^ Hassell, Jonathan (September 3, 2014). "Microsoft's StorSimple: A first look at the 8000 series". Computerworld. 
  11. ^ "Azure and CONNX". CONNX. Retrieved October 30, 2014. 
  12. ^ "HDInsight | Cloud Hadoop". Retrieved 2014-07-22. 
  13. ^ sethmanheim. "Overview of Azure Service Bus fundamentals". Retrieved 2017-12-12. 
  14. ^ "Azure Regions | Microsoft Azure". Retrieved December 8, 2016. 
  15. ^ [1]
  16. ^ "Why Cortana Intelligence?". Microsoft. 
  17. ^ "Azure Regions | Microsoft Azure". Retrieved July 17, 2017. 
  18. ^ "Microsoft beats Google and Amazon to announce first African data centers, kicking off in 2018". VentureBeat. May 18, 2017. Retrieved July 17, 2017. 
  19. ^ Welicki, Leon. "Announcing Azure Portal general availability". Microsoft. Retrieved December 23, 2015. 
  20. ^ "Azure Management Software". ParkMyCloud. Retrieved April 6, 2017. 
  21. ^ a b FitzMacken, Tom. "Azure Resource Manager vs. classic deployment". Microsoft. Retrieved September 16, 2016. 
  22. ^ FitzMacken, Tom. "Azure Resource Manager overview". Microsoft. Retrieved September 16, 2016. 
  23. ^ "SQL Azure SU3 is Now Live and Available in 6 Datacenters Worldwide". SQL Azure Team Blog. Microsoft. Archived from the original on June 20, 2013. Retrieved May 28, 2013. 
  24. ^ "Microsoft Azure Machine Learning combines power of comprehensive machine learning with benefits of cloud". June 16, 2014. 
  25. ^ "Human Error Caused Microsoft Azure Outage". December 20, 2014. 
  26. ^ "Microsoft demonstrates its Linux-based Azure Cloud Switch operating system". September 18, 2015. 
  27. ^ "Microsoft Azure gets a new Logo and a Manifesto". Build Azure. 2017-09-26. Retrieved 2018-01-09. 
  28. ^ Toor, Amar (June 30, 2011). "Microsoft: European cloud data may not be immune to the Patriot Act". Retrieved June 27, 2013. 
  29. ^ "EU data privacy authorities approve Microsoft Azure", April 15, 2014,
  30. ^ "The collapse of the US-EU Safe Harbor", October 20, 2015, Brad Smith, President and Chief Legal Officer,
  31. ^ "Microsoft Azure Trust Center". Retrieved June 27, 2013. 
  32. ^ "Microsoft Azure Trust Center Compliance". Retrieved June 27, 2013. 
  33. ^ "FedRAMP Compliant Cloud Systems". Retrieved October 15, 2014. 
  34. ^ "Summary of Windows Azure Service Disruption on Feb 29th, 2012". March 9, 2012. Retrieved July 12, 2017. 
  35. ^ "Windows Azure outage hits Europe". July 26, 2012. Retrieved June 27, 2013. 
  36. ^ "Microsoft pins Azure outage on network miscue". July 27, 2012. Retrieved June 27, 2013. 
  37. ^ Microsoft’s Azure storage service goes down, locking out corporate customers from their data Archived July 26, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
  38. ^ Bishop, Bryan. "Xbox Live and Windows Azure suffering from extended outages". Retrieved June 27, 2013. 
  39. ^ "Microsoft's Windows Azure cloud hit by worldwide management interuption [sic]". October 31, 2013. Retrieved November 3, 2013. 
  40. ^ Zander, Jason. "Update on Azure Storage Service Interruption". Microsoft. Retrieved December 5, 2014. 
  41. ^ Foley, Mary J. "Microsoft says Storage service performance update brought Azure down". ZD.NET. Retrieved December 5, 2014. 
  42. ^ European Office 365 and Microsoft Azure users hit by service outage
  43. ^ Global DNS outage hits Microsoft Azure customers
  44. ^ Microsoft confirms Azure storage issues around the world
  45. ^ Microsoft Says Azure Outage Caused by Accidental Fire-Suppression Gas | Data Center Knowledge
  46. ^ "Jason Zander - Blog - Microsoft Azure". 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]