The Windows Azure Platform is an application platform in the cloud that allows Microsoft datacenters to host and run applications. It provides a cloud operating system called Windows Azure that serves as a runtime for the applications and provides a set of services that allows development, management and hosting of applications off-premises. All Azure Services and applications built using them run on top of Windows Azure.
Windows Azure has three core components: Compute, Storage and Fabric. As the names suggest, Compute provides a computation environment with Web Role and Worker Role while Storage focuses on providing scalable storage (Blobs, Tables, Queue, Drives) for large-scale needs.
Fabric (Windows Azure Fabric) makes up the physical underpinnings of the Windows Azure platform as the network of interconnected nodes consisting of servers, high-speed connections, and switches. Conceptually, the repetitive pattern of nodes and connections suggests a woven or fabric-like nature. Compute and Storage components are part of the Fabric.
Fabric resources and applications and services running on those resources are managed by the Windows Azure Fabric Controller service. It acts as the kernel of the Windows Azure distributed cloud operating system, providing scheduling, resource allocation, device management, and fault tolerance for the nodes in the Fabric. It also provides high-level application models for intelligently managing the complete application lifecycle, including deployment, health monitoring, upgrades, and de-activation.
The Windows Azure Platform provides an API built on REST, HTTP and XML that allows a developer to interact with the services provided by Windows Azure. Microsoft also provides a client-side managed class library which encapsulates the functions of interacting with the services. It also integrates with Microsoft Visual Studio so that it can be used as the IDE to develop and publish Azure-hosted applications.
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