An Overview Of Windows Azure Platform Computer Science Essay

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The Windows Azure platform is poised to radically change the way Microsoft architects and developers think about building and managing applications. The Windows Azure platform provides an Internet-based cloud computing environment for running applications and storing data in Microsoft data centers around the world.

We can create Windows Azure accounts, download the developer SDKs, and access a variety of valuable learning resources from the service they provide.

The Windows Azure platform consists of the Windows Azure cloud-based operating system, which provides the core compute and storage capabilities required by cloud-based applications as well as some constituent services - specifically the Service Bus and Access Control - that provide other key connectivity and security-related features. The Windows Azure platform also comes with a cloud-based relational database called SQL Azure, allowing us to move on-premises relational databases and logic to the cloud. These features and services offer a valuable cloud-based development fabric.

We can take advantage of the new Windows Azure platform to host entirely new applications or individual services that enhance existing on-premises software investments.

Windows Azure is an operating system as a service. It provides a cloud computing- fabric. It is hosted within Microsoft data centers, for creating, deploying, managing, and distributing applications and services on the Internet .The following image shows the process.

Figure: Windows Azure Fabric

The Windows Azure fabric provides two main areas of functionality: compute (e.g., executing an application) and storage (e.g., storing data on disk), the foundational building blocks for all cloud applications. In addition to these core services, Windows Azure also comes with Service Bus and Access Control capabilities, which make it easier to extend our .NET applications into the cloud.

Compute

The compute service offered by Windows Azure makes it possible to "execute" our applications in the cloud. The compute service provides us with a way to run our applications on a Windows Server running in a virtual machine hosted in Microsoft data center.

Storage

It's important to note that the Windows Azure storage services are designed to be very simple and highly scalable. They provide fundamental services for BLOB storage, queue storage, and simple table storage. manipulating data in the storage services through traditional POST, PUT, and DELETE requests, and retrieving information from the storage services using simple GET requests. This approach makes it possible for anyone to integrate with the storage services, regardless of their platform.

Service Bus and Access Control

The Service Bus and Access Control features make it easier to extend the reach of your .NET applications through the Windows Azure platform. Today they provide key functionality related to bi-directional application connectivity and federated claims-based access control, both of which are extremely important to applications attempting the migration to the Windows Azure platform.

The primary feature of the Service Bus is to "relay" messages from clients through the Windows Azure cloud to your software running on-premises, by-passing any firewalls, NATs, or other network obstacles that might be in the way (see Figure 12). In addition to relaying messages, the Service Bus can also help negotiate direct connections between apps. The primary feature of Access Control is to provide a claims-based access control mechanism for applications to build on in the cloud (see Figure 23).

These services come with a .NET developer SDK that simplifies integrating these services into your on-premises .NET applications. The SDK provides seamless integration with Windows Communication Foundation (WCF) and other Microsoft technologies to build on existing skill sets as much as possible.

Figure 1: Service Bus

Figure 2: Access Control

SQL Azure

Microsoft SQL Azure Database is a cloud-based relational database service built on SQL Server technologies. It provides a highly available, scalable, multi-tenant database service hosted in the cloud. It helps to ease provisioning and deployment of multiple databases. High availability and fault tolerance is built-in and no physical administration is required.

SQL Azure Database supports Transact-SQL (T-SQL). SQL Azure Database can help reduce costs by integrating with existing toolsets and providing symmetry with on-premises and cloud databases.

SQL Azure gives you the features of a relational database but as a service running in the cloud. This includes tables, stored procedures, triggers, views, indexes, and compatibility with Visual Studio .NET, ADO.NET, and ODBC. I believe this is possible because SQL Azure is built on the Tabular Data Stream (TDS) protocol, the same protocol used to communicate with SQL Server instances running on-premise. Hence, as a developer we can use any TDS-compatible tool or technology when working with their SQL Azure instances running in the cloud.

This provides a quick overview of the Windows Azure platform; the Service Bus and Access Control.

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