The Windows Azure platform is an open platform, just like Windows Server. It runs general-purpose programming languages including .NET, Python, Java, Ruby, and PHP. It supports multiple development environments including Visual Studio and Eclipse. The Windows Azure platform was initially offered as a public cloud offering hosted out of Microsoft's datacenters, but Microsoft has recruited three service providers — Dell, Fujitsu, and HP — to run and offer Windows Azure in their own datacenters as well. eBay is one of the first enterprise customers to deploy the Windows Azure platform as a private cloud.
Complements and Inte gr ates w ith Hy per- V Clou d Platf orm
The Windows Azure platform is designed to integrate with the core cloud-enabling technologies found in Microsoft Windows Server, Hyper-V, and System Center. For
example, an organization with Hyper-V can run an infrastructure consisting of a number of servers as a cloud. The Hyper-V Virtual Machine Manager, along with System Center, takes care of many basic deployment and provisioning functions, as
well as workload balancing, and provides a fully functional management suite.
One of the main design tenets of Windows Azure is that developers and IT operations should focus as much as possible only on application management while management of the operating system, hypervisor, and hardware is as automated as
possible. Consequently, Windows Azure can automatically determine when an application requires more resources and spins up additional VMs to support the application. Alternatively, if it detects that an application instance is nonresponsive, it
will automatically create an additional application instance to ensure high availability with no human intervention. The Azure platform is intentionally architected with recovery and availability as a foundational building block, even during operating
system upgrades or updates. With the integration of hardware and software technologies, users should never experience downtime because an application will fail over to another active instance. Importantly, the management capabilities of the
Windows Azure platform enable a single IT administrator to manage hundreds and hundreds of servers and thousands of instances.
Windows Azure Platform Appliance
In July 2010, Microsoft announced plans to release the Windows Azure platform appliance. The Windows Azure platform appliance enables Microsoft to provide service providers with an integrated software stack and validated hardware framework for offering cloud computing services to their customers. The appliance also enables enterprises to run private cloud services in their own datacenters based on Windows Azure.
The appliance is a turnkey cloud solution that consists of the Windows Azure platform; the SQL Azure platform; and a Microsoft-specified configuration of network, storage, and server hardware. Like Windows Server, Azure is designed for high levels of scalability as well as multitenancy and is optimized for datacenter efficiency. The hardware is being built and will be delivered by a variety of partners, including Dell, Fujitsu, and HP. eBay is also an initial customer of the appliance, and it is deploying its Java-based ecommerce platform on the appliance.