In a nutshell, Windows Azure can be defined as a cloud operating system with the ability to host services and manage them centrally. This provides a wide range of capabilities in the form of computing service to run applications, storage services and creating a framework that supports several applications. Windows Azure Platform lays the foundation for running applications and storing data on the cloud. Windows Azure Platform contains computer service, storage service and fabric. Computer service enables applications to run in the cloud; storage service provides storage for content types and the fabric provides a framework to manage and monitor the applications running in cloud. Building applications using the Windows Azure platform is not very complicated as developers can write familiar .NET code using Visual studio to build applications, which have the capability to run in the cloud. Developers can completely leverage their existing knowledge of .NET, Workflow Foundation, Windows Communication foundation, SharePoint, Windows Live and SQL Server to build cloud applications. The only difference will be the way applications need to be deployed and hosted (in the cloud) and the execution environment of the applications (on the development fabric or in the cloud fabric).
For building large-scale cloud-based applications on Azure platform, many tools and service offerings can be used and leveraged. For instance, Windows Azure AppFabric services can be used for security and connectivity, SQL Azure for data storage and retrieval from cloud relational data store and other mash-up services can be exploited for enabling data synchronization from services, applications and devices. The implementation methodology follows the simple practice of modeling the services and decides if either a completely new application needs to be developed or if the application can be composed through other mash-up services or channels. This is to build a new service to support market needs or consume the services which are already available in the marketplace. For a quicker method, the consumption of services can be leveraged through the Windows Azure Marketplace.
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