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An Introduction to Windows Azure Features

All-purpose cloud computing platform for businesses of all sizes

Windows Azure is a cloud OS. It is an infrastructure with computing, networking, and storage capacities; a global service publishing and distribution vehicle; and a security and system management framework capable of bridging and extending on-premise resources with those deployed in the cloud. With IaaS combined with the many features Windows Azure offers, the opportunities for enterprise IT as well as small and medium businesses are real and exciting to employ cloud as a delivery platform for LOB services including media and phone apps.image Windows Azure combined with Windows Server 2012 and System Center 2012 SP1 provide many options for IT to transition and transform existing establishments into a cloud-friendly, cloud-ready, and cloud-enabled environment. Deploying resources, migrating workloads, and expanding Active Directory to cloud have never been easier with so much predictability and quick ROI, and without compromising quality and security. While for developers, those applications deployed to Windows Azure PaaS environment will be by default delivered with SaaS globally. Windows Azure is a cloud OS, changes how IT does business, and opens many new possibilities to shorten go-to-market. The following schematic depicts Windows Azure features highlighting technical capabilities, target scenarios, and business objectives.

WEB SITES is to rapidly deploy highly scalable web sites on Windows Azure. It allows using languages and open source applications of a site administrator’s choice and deploying content with FTP, Git, and TFS. Integrations with Windows Azure services include SQL Database, Caching, Content Delivery Network (CDN) and Storage. This is an optimal solution for a web presence to start small and scale as traffic grows with scalability, high availability, and built-in monitoring of performance and usage data. This is also a perfect turnkey for running ephemeral, i.e. short-live and transitory sites, for contests, promotions, campaign, prototype, proof of concept, and so on.

VIRTUAL MACHINES is Windows Azure’s IaaS solution. This much needed and long waited capability enables enterprise IT to provision infrastructure and deploy VMs on demand. An administrator can now easily deploy and configure Windows Server and Linux VMs in minutes in cloud. Migrate workloads without having to change existing code and modify network configuration, while able to securely connect those VMs to on-premises corporate networks.

MOBILE SERVICES offers a secure turnkey backend-as-a-service solution readily available for mobile applications. This offer accelerates mobile application development by incorporating structured storage, user authentication, and push notifications, and shortens the process dramatically. The ROI of this offering for mobile application development and deployment is almost immediate.image

MEDIA SERVICES has everything for delivering content to a variety of devices, from Xbox, Windows phone, Windows 8, to MacOS, iOS and Android while ingesting, encoding, converting, and protecting content with both on-demand and live streaming capabilities. As media increasingly becomes part of a delivery in both business and social settings, Windows Azure Media Services arrive with tremendous business opportunities and growth.

CLOUD SERVICES, a PaaS offering, provides an on-demand runtime environment. Published API enables developers to build or extend enterprise applications onto Windows Azure with high availability and elastic scale. This is a PaaS environment to deploy applications delivered as SaaS solutions to customers anywhere around the world.

BIG DATA is becoming a pressing issue and on-going challenge for enterprise IT as data continue to explode. We are now confronted with ever-increasing and unplanned bursting of data in the order of magnitude on a daily basis. IT needs to process more data today than those of yesterday’s, yester-week’s, and yester-month’s introduced by growing mobile devices and increasing dynamic traffic trigger by social networks. The new normal of enterprise IT is to have not only the capacity to store and process, but the ability to analyze and derive information, and deliver business values from a massive sample space with numerous data points which continue increasing. Facing this reality, Windows Azure features a 100% Apache Hadoop compatible, enterprise-ready HDInsight service and supports a variety of structured and unstructured data storage options, along with tools to help analyze and extract BI from data of any size. Enterprise IT may not overcome the challenges of big data overnight, the arrival of Windows Azure nonetheless offers a strategic platform to move forward with a convergent solution.

More Stories By Yung Chou

Yung Chou is a Technology Evangelist in Microsoft. Within the company, he has had opportunities serving customers in the areas of support account management, technical support, technical sales, and evangelism. Prior to Microsoft, he had established capacities in system programming, application development, consulting services, and IT management. His recent technical focuses have been in virtualization and cloud computing with strong interests in hybrid cloud and emerging enterprise computing architecture. He is a frequent speaker in Microsoft conferences, roadshow, and TechNet events.

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