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Windows Azure

The PaaS platform Windows Azure can supply and manage the operating system, which is great if your applications don’t require a specialized OS. You can concentrate on building, deploying, and managing cloud applications without worrying about OS updates and patches.

Windows Azure offers three main roles, or OS choices.

  • Web role: This Windows Azure-supplied OS, preloaded with Internet Information Services 7, permits the development of applications using Web technologies such as ASP.NET, PHP, and Node.js.
  • Worker role: This Windows Azure-supplied OS can run arbitrary code or host any type of application (including Apache Tomcat and Java Virtual Machines), and you can use it in conjunction with a Web role.
  • Virtual Machine role: You, the customer, supply the OS by uploading a Windows Server 2008 R2 (Enterprise or Standard) VHD image. Unlike with the Web and Worker roles, with this role (currently in beta) you’re responsible for keeping the OS up-to-date.
Microsoft Azure logo

You can use any language, framework, or tool to build applications on Windows Azure. Features and services are exposed through REST (Representational State Transfer) protocols. The Windows Azure client libraries are available for multiple programming languages, and are released under an open-source license. They are hosted on GitHub. Windows Azure that includes the company’s Small Compute instance and other resources sufficient for IT personnel to test and become familiar with Windows Azure. Like other cloud hosts, Microsoft has a pay-as-you-go pricing scheme, a per-hour cost for each role when deployed. You can estimate your monthly bill using the company’s calculator.

Microsoft’s service level agreement guarantees 99.95 percent uptime for its compute services when you have at least two instances of a role running.

SQL Azure provides a scalable relational cloud database service built on SQL Server technologies that Windows Azure applications or your on-premises applications can use. It supports exporting and ongoing synchronization with your on-premises databases. You can pay as you go, or make a six-month commitment for reduced pricing; in either case, you can purchase this feature independently or along with other Windows Azure platform products.

Microsoft’s cloud storage lets you store structured or unstructured data for use with your Windows Azure applications or other applications via REST and managed APIs. You can also mount storage as virtual hard drives inside your Windows Azure applications by using the Windows Azure Drive feature, and you can move your virtual hard drives between private and public clouds. Microsoft offers pay-as-you-go pricing for Windows Azure Storage and Windows Azure Drive.

Amazon Cloud Solutions

Amazon Web Services (AWS) provides trusted, cloud-based solutions to help you meet your business needs. Running your solutions in the AWS Cloud can help you get your applications up and running faster while providing the same level of security that organizations like Pfizer, Intuit, and the US Navy rely on. AWS also provides resources around the world, so you can deploy your solutions where your customers are. The AWS Cloud makes a broad set of services, partners, and support options easily available to help make sure that you can focus on what will make your solution a success. Click on any option to learn more about the benefits of that solution, see customer case studies, and find technical documentation, to help you get started today.

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