Microsoft Azure provides developers with on-demand compute, storage, networking and content delivery capabilities to host, scale and manage Web applications on the Internet through Microsoft data centers. Azure serves as the development, service hosting and service management environment for the Azure platform.
The five parts of Azure today are the following:
- Compute: An Azure compute hosted service consists of one or more roles. A role defines a component that can run in the execution environment within Azure. Code running within a hosted service can be created using the .NET Framework in languages such as C# and Visual Basic, or they can be built without .NET in C++, Java, and other languages. Developers can use Visual Studio or other development tools, and they’re free to use technologies such as ASP.NET, Windows Communication Foundation (WCF), and PHP within their roles.
- Storage: This service allows storing binary large objects (blobs), provides queues for communication between components of Azure applications, and even offers a form of tables with a simple query language. (Azure applications that need traditional relational storage can also use SQL Azure.) Both Azure applications and on-premises applications can access the Azure storage service, using either REST APIs or managed APIs.
- Fabric controller: Azure runs on a large number of machines. The fabric controller’s job is to knit the machines in a single Azure data center into a cohesive whole. The Azure compute and storage services are then built on top of this pool of processing power.
- Content delivery network (CDN): Caching frequently accessed data closer to its users speeds up access to that data. The Azure CDN can do this for blobs, maintaining cached copies at sites around the world.
- Connect: It’s often useful for organizations to interact with cloud applications as if they were inside the organization’s own firewall. Azure Connect allows this, making it easier for, say, an Azure application to access an on-premises database.
For more information about Azure, check out the following resources: