What is Microsoft Azure?

Data-Center-Cloud-ComputingBefore discussing about Microsoft Azure(Windows Azure), let's understand Data Centers and their importance in today's business operations.


Data Center(s):

A DataCenter is a center or place where computer machines and other associated components like storage systems, networking systems etc are kept & managed by experts. These data centers are loaded with power supplies backups, redundant communication connections and other backups like air conditioning, security devices etc.
Our modern non-stop operation has created a huge demands of such places on which one can rely on the facilities. If we establish our own data center then it will cost much so many popular vendors offers their data center on rents. The measure challenges has been security threat & trust of these data centers but it has been gone with due course of time & globalization.
Now most of business operations are running globally over internet and their business continuity is totally depend upon the availability of Information systems. These companies business operations may stopped or hamper if any resource system becomes unavailable. So no one is willing to take/see this loss and looking towards availability of promised & assured IT Systems with security; And this is available in form of Data Centers(AWS Infrastructure, Microsoft Data Centers, Sentinel Data Centers, Vantage Data Centers, Google Data Centers etc ).

Microsoft Azure (Windows Azure) :

Data-Center-Cloud-Computing-AzureNow, small companies has got various option for Data Centers, so what else they require? Well, after the availability of Data-centers, still they requires infrastructure build & deploy option, code repository facility, and managing capability for their applications. If all these could be offered from a vendor, then it will make more easier to make & run a non-stop reliable application. There is no need to worry about power failure, data disk crashes/failure, environmental care, redundant communication(internet) etc if this all is provided by third party experts. The best part is the cost effective rent amount, which is lesser than setting-up own infrastructure of same kind. Now, it is possible to monitor your resource consumption, and you need to pay only what you consume or use :)
Refer below image (taken from wikipedia.org) which nicely explains Cloud computing system.
IaaS-SaaS-PaaS-Cloud-Computing-LayerYour applications runs on large & powerful servers compare to your own setup of small servers. These big & powerful servers are shared for different applications of various clients. Your application is not on a fixed/particular server but it is on virtual machines(many servers) to scale the availability of your application. This style is called cloud computing. If a user is accessing your application from Singapore, he will be connected to Singapore based server, if another user is trying the same application from Finland, he will be connected/served from Finland based server. It makes faster availability of your application. This is the power of cloud system. For all this, a platform or a powerful operating system is required. Microsoft launches its cloud managing system software with the name "Windows Azure" like its other operating system names ex- "Windows 98", "Windows 8". In March,2014, after seeing the unexpected rapid development in cloud computing market, Microsoft bundles many items to make a complete cloud computing solution package and renamed "Windows Azure" with "Microsoft Azure". Microsoft Azure mainly provides following facilities-
  • PaaS (Platform as a Service)- providing platforms for development, run and manage (run-time execution facility, database, web servers, development tools etc.)
  • IaaS (Infrastructure as a services)- providing infrastructures (virtual machines, servers, data storage, network load-balancers, networks etc)
  • Various Tools & Frameworks
  • Supporting software for both Microsoft and Third party
  • Programming languages to build cloud based applications
For brief introduction, refer this good article - Introduction to Microsoft Azure: Part 1