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The Azure Services Platform (Azure) is an internet-scale cloud services platform hosted in Microsoft data centres, which provides an operating system and a set of developer services that can be used individually or together. The goal of Azure is to provide developers who want to write applications that run partially and/or entirely in a remote datacentre with a platform and set of tools. With the Azure Services Platform, processing and storage moves from individual corporate servers and websites to large Microsoft data centres.
Cloud-based applications and storage make it easier to share data. Enterprises can make applications available to partners without requiring users to remember different login credentials for the services each partner provides. Because all partners access the same cloud resident data, changes made by one application are automatically available to all.
While applications that execute in the cloud must be designed for the Windows environment, non-Windows based applications can access services on the Azure Services Platform using industry standards. Applications communicate with the cloud using HTTP and SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol), while services and data are identified and accessed using URIs (Uniform Resource Identifiers). Developers administer services on the Azure Services Platform via a browser-accessible portal.
The components of the Azure Services Platform can be used by local applications running on a variety of systems, including various flavours of Windows, mobile devices, and others. Those components include:

Azure Services Platform

The four Azure Services Platform components—Windows Azure, .NET Services, SQL Services, and Live Services—offer these rich technical capabilities:

  • Windows Azure provides scalable computation and storage to user applications and to other Azure Services Platform components.
  • DOTNET Services coordinate user login credentials across differing security schemes and offers distributed infrastructure services to cloud-based and local applications.
  • SQL Services provide data storage for applications running in the cloud and in corporate data centres.
  • Live Services allows users to coordinate data across all of their devices and selectively share data with friends and associates.