Microsoft Azure is a growing collection of integrated cloud services—analytics, computing, database, mobile, networking, storage, and web—for moving faster, achieving more, and saving money.
Also, it 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 and Microsoft partner hosted datacentres.
Today you can select between a range of different offerings such as:
- Web sites : You can use Windows Azure if you want to launch a web site. You can develop the site using a wide range of different web application frameworks (like ASP.NET and Node.js) or using open source applications (like WordPress or Joomla).
- Virtual Machines : You can use Windows Azure to run Windows or Linux virtual machines in the cloud. This is a great option if you need additional computer capacity for existing applications but you don’t want to add more servers to your own datacenter.
- Mobile services : Windows Azure includes features that accelerate the development of mobile applications. You can easily incorporate user authentication using Windows Live, Facebook, Twitter, or Google.
- Media : You can use Windows Azure if you want to create, manage or distribute media. The platform provides functionality to protect content, to provide live or on-demand streaming of video and to convert media to various formats.
- Cloud services : You can use Windows Azure to build or extend existing enterprise applications. Windows Azure includes a services bus which enables integration with other applications such as SAP.
- Big Data : You can use Windows Azure as a platform for enormous amounts of data (petabytes – thousands of terabytes, millions of gigabytes). With the built in tools you can provide data warehousing and business intelligence solutions for improved business analytics.
The business benefits
Using a cloud computing platform service like Windows Azure provides companies with numerous benefits.
- Faster time to market– Since you don’t have to worry about the underlying infrastructure or platform and only focus on developing the functionality of your business application it can be completed in a fraction of the time, thus reducing your time to market.
- Reduced costs– Since you are only paying for what you are using, the pay-as-you-grow model, reduces the upfront costs. Since Microsoft can pass on volume discounts to their customers the ongoing costs are also lower than if you were to host the full platform yourself.
- Increased scalability – As your customer base grows and the usage of your application increases you can just add additional capacity to make sure your application is running smoothly. You don’t ever have to worry about running out of server capacity.
- More flexibility and creativity – Applications can very quickly be deployed to the Windows Azure platform which means that changes can be applied without any downtime. This makes it an ideal platform for your developers to let their creative minds run wild and for them to add functionality to your application that you would otherwise not have dared to implement.