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Windows Azure is a cloud computing platform developed by Microsoft that can be used to build and host online Web applications through Microsoft data centers. Management of the scalable Web applications is also performed at Microsoft’s data centers.
Windows Azure was originally codenamed “Red Dog” and was initially called “Windows Cloud” when it first launched in October 2008.
Windows Azure is designed to make IT management easier. The main purpose of developing Windows Azure was to minimize the overhead and personnel expenses associated with the creation, distribution and upgrade of the Web applications.
The Windows Azure platform is considered a platform as a service, which is an imperative component of a cloud computing platform. It consists of various on-demand services hosted in Microsoft's data centers and is commodotized through three product brands.
The services and applications developed using the Azure platform run on the Windows Azure operating system, which provides a runtime environment for Web applications along with an extensive set of services that facilitate the building, hosting and management of applications without requiring maintenance to expensive onsite resources.
Windows Azure is designed to support both Microsoft and non-Microsoft platforms. The three main components that constitute Windows Azure are:
Windows Azure also includes an automated service management feature that allows the upgrading of applications without affecting their performance. Windows Azure is designed to support a number of platforms and programming languages. Some of the languages supported are extensible markup language (XML), representational state transfer (REST), Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP), Ruby, Eclipse, Python and PHP.