Under the hood of Windows Azure

Windows Azure offers both IaaS and SaaS services.

Windows Azure has been going from strength to strength as an entrant into the infrastructure as a service (IaaS) marketplace. The five years' worth of work that has gone into making this product was cemented when it gained a place within Gartner's Magic Quadrant. So what is it about Azure that makes it appeal to IT professionals?

Looking under the hood of Azure, one of the main things to notice is that it is a highly flexible product for those planning to venture into the cloud with the well tried, tested and trusted Microsoft brand providing all its services.

Mitch Tullock of the Windows Azure team explained in a recent report: "Windows Azure is an open and flexible cloud platform that enables you to quickly build, deploy, and manage applications across a global network of Microsoft-managed datacenters."

Azure is perceived to be an easy route into the public cloud and its openness and flexibility are key to this. It is possible to use any programming language, framework or tool of any kind to develop cloud based applications.

On the other hand, Azure can be used to provide cloud services to support most kinds of business needs, from supporting a website, to filling in databases. This includes a number of software as a service (SaaS) offerings, that allow people to access Microsoft services, with licenses already covered, from within the cloud.

Information stored using Azure is kept in one of Microsoft's databases, some of which are located in Europe, which are managed by Microsoft and that businesses can gain support for at any time.

As one of the biggest challenges in moving to the cloud is integrating existing IT systems with it, Microsoft has endeavoured to make this as easy as possible by developing the Microsoft Windows Server Platform to fulfill this purpose.

Certainly this was a point picked up on by Gartner, which noted how Azure has a secure future with this service. With its SaaS and IaaS products coupled together, it offers an easy way for IT professionals to integrate their systems with the cloud and begin building their presence there.