Smart Computing with Windows Azure - dummies

Smart Computing with Windows Azure

By Ken Withee, Jennifer Reed

Windows Azure is a set of technologies and services that empowers businesses to take advantage of the scalability and agility of cloud computing. The technology not only allows businesses to store data in the cloud but also allows them to build and connect applications in the cloud similar to how businesses currently do it on premises.

The flexibility of this platform makes it easy to scale up or down to meet business needs under a pay-for-use business model. If you are a developer, Windows Azure is a great platform to develop and run applications in .NET, PHP, and Java, hosted in Microsoft data centers.

The platform essentially eliminates the need to buy servers and allocate resources to manage the infrastructure, allowing organizations to focus more on responding to customer needs and growing their business.

The database component to the Windows Azure platform is SQL Azure. This relational database is hosted in the cloud, is built on Microsoft’s SQL technology, and runs in the same datacenters as Microsoft’s Windows Azure.

The growing list of Windows Azure platform users includes companies and organizations, such as 3M, NASA, General Mills, Volvo, Xerox, T-Mobile, and Pixar.

In a white paper published by Microsoft entitled “The Economics of the Cloud,” you find that Pixar Animation Studios runs its computer-animation rendering process on Windows Azure because every frame of its movies would take eight hours to render if it were running on a single processor. This means that on a single processor, an entire movie would take 272 years to render!

With the Windows Azure platform however, Pixar is able to get the job done as fast as they need to because the cloud business model allows a user to pay the same for 1 machine running for 1,000 hours as he would for accelerating the process by running 1,000 machines for 1 hour.