Microsoft Azure (Windows Azure)

Microsoft Azure, formerly known as Windows Azure, is the latest brand name for the Azure cloud platform.

Microsoft Azure began as a Windows Server-based cloud platform, but has since grown to become a very flexible cloud platform that enables developers to use any language, framework, or tool to build, deploy and manage applications. According to Microsoft, Azure features and services are exposed using openREST protocols. The Azure client libraries, which are available for multiple programming languages, are released under an open source license and hosted on GitHub.

The 2014 version of the Azure cloud platform includes a new portal and integrated billing. Microsoft Azure includes a number of improvements to Visual Studio Online, including Team Projects for managing application lifecycles and a lightweight editor codenamed "Monaco" that allows developers to modify and commit code changes without leaving Microsoft Azure. Other improvements include an analytics option and a new management feature for automating deployment.  As of June 2015, available services include:

Azure Active Directory - provides identity management and access control capabilities.

Azure API Management - allows customers to publish application programing interfaces (APIs).

Visual Studio Application Insights - provides telemetry services for devices and web applications.

App Service - allows customers to create enterprise-ready mobile apps for any platform or device.

Azure Automation - allows customers to automate the creation, deployment, monitoring and maintenance for Azure resources.

Azure Backup - allows customers to manage cloud backups.

Azure Batch - allows customers to run large-scale parallel and high performance computing (HPC) workloads.

Azure BizTalk Services - provides integration services for public cloud and hybrid cloud deployments.

Azure CDN - provides customers with a content delivery network.

Azure Cloud Services - provides customers with the ability to build, deploy and manage software applications.

Azure Data Factory - allows customers to create, orchestrate and schedule work flows and transformation activities for data.

Azure DNS - allows customers to host their DNS domains with their Azure apps.

Azure Document Hub - provides customers with a fully-managed NoSQL document database service.

Azure Event Hubs - allows applications to process events with variable load profiles.

Azure HDInsight Service - provides customers with a Hadoop-based service for big data.

Microsoft Azure Key - provides customers with encryption key management capabilities.

Azure load balancer - provides customers with a way to distribute traffic among service instances in Azure Cloud Services or Azure Virtual Machines.

Azure Machine Learing - allows customers to design, test, operationalize and manage predictive analytics.

Azure Cache - provides customers with fast access to data.

Azure Mobile Engagement - provides customers with mobile application management (MAM) capabilities.

Azure Mobile Services - provides back-end services for building cross-platform mobile apps.

Azure Multi-Factor Authentication - provides multi-factor authentication services that follow organizational security and compliance polices.

Notification Hubs - provides customers with push notification capabilities.

Operational Insights - allows customers to collect, correlate and visualize machine data in logs.

Redis Cache - provides customers with a dedicated cache for their Azure applications.

Remote App - allows customers to deliver Windows apps to any device.

Azure Scheduler - allows customers to invoke actions on a set basis or future date.

Azure Search - allows customers to give their applications search capabilities.

Azure Service Bus - provides customers with a messaging infrastructure that can sit between applications.

Site Recovery - provides customers with disaster recovery services.

Azure SQL Database - provides customers with a relational database system.

StorSimple - provides customers with a hybrid-cloud storage service.

Stream Analytics - provides customers with an event processing engine to assist with real-time analytics.

Azure Traffic Manager - allows customers to route incoming traffic across multiple hosted Azure services.

Azure Virtual Machines - allows customers to deploy a Windows Server or Linux image in the cloud.

Azure Virtual Network - allows customers to create VPNs that are hosted in the cloud.

Visual Studio Online - provides customers with a hosted application lifecycle management (ALM) service.

Azure VPN Gateway - allows customers to establish secure connectivity between their Azure VPNs and their on-premises IT infrastructures.

This was first published in May 2009

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Considering Microsoft Azure for your organization? Read our expert overview of Azure cloud services, pricing and support model to help with your decision-making process.

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Margaret Rouse asks:

Some pundits wonder whether Microsoft is making on-premises deployments more expensive just to force customers into purchasing Azure services. What do you think?

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