Windows Azure - Microsoft's Cloud Platform

At Microsoft's Professional Developer Conference in Los Angeles, CA today, Ray Ozzie, our Chief Software Architect announced our new cloud operating system, Windows Azure. Windows Azure, built on Windows Server 2008, extends the Windows environment to the cloud for developers who want

  • service hosting,
  • scalable storage, and
  • automated service management

of their software applications. Azure is a component of the Azure Services Platform, a set of cloud-based technologies such as storage, identity, and multi-device sync that extend software development for both enterprise server and PC/browser/phone applications with services on the Web.


As you can see from the image above, the Azure Services Platform includes

  • SQL Services for relational data storage and querying,
  • .NET Services for service-connectivity, workflow, and messaging,
  • Live Services for application extension of the Windows Live platform,
  • SharePoint Services which provide extensibility for SharePoint Server, and,
  • Dynamics CRM Services which provide extensibility for Dynamics CRM.

Microsoft and The Cloud

Today, the cloud platform as we know it has come a long ways. The cloud platform has helped remove the complexity of hardware that runs web based applications. With Azure we want to move beyond hardware, and remove the complexity of the application platform itself.

Is Azure for me?

While Azure is appealing to everyone from large enterprises to hobbyists, it is going to be particularly interesting to startups and Web 2.0 companies as well who want to take advantage of a rich, highly versatile web-based platform to build scalable applications for the web.

.NET and more

The Azure Service Platform is designed to work with both Microsoft and non-Microsoft technologies. The Azure Services Platform supports the REST, SOAP and XML protocols. We will provide a great experience working with Microsoft products and development tools. Developers can write in languages supported by the .NET Framework, including C#, VB.NET, IronPython, and IronRuby. In the near future, we will support Ruby, Python, and PHP as well.

Why the name Azure?

I'm sure this is going to come up more than once in the coming weeks. Azure is a vibrant, dynamic and uplifting color. Azure is also linked to the image of the blue sky and, by extension, ‘the cloud.’

To learn more, you can watch this video from the PDC keynote this morning.

Today, Azure is available for free in Community Tech Preview form. We expect to have a more broadly available CTP in early 2009 with betas to follow thereafter. We will provide more information on our roadmap to commercial availability in early 2009.