Windows Azure has a healthy feature set, offering all the basic tools you’ll need to get your application up and running without the administrative hurdles you’d face by configuring your own server. Their platform-as-a-service handles all of the administrative tasks involved in setting up, configuring, updating and maintaining a web server. Each of these is an actual server running in a virtual environment, referred to as “instances.” Your application is divided into two parts, each served by a separate web or worker role; the web role instances respond to HTTP requests and make your website faster by speeding up page delivery times, web transaction processing and so on. Worker role instances handle message and background job processing, such as asynchronous processing of emails, large database transactions and computing-heavy tasks like data processing and indexing.
One of the most appealing features that can be bundled with Windows Azure is access to Microsoft’s content delivery network, or CDN. This allows you to place static files in various data centers across the globe, resulting in quicker load times for your customers, wherever they might be.
Scaling and Flexibility
Windows Azure makes scaling simple with its division of web and worker instances. As mentioned earlier in our review, these roles handle different jobs with respect to your web application. You can scale each of these roles independently, allowing granular control to either empty your background job queue with workers quickly, or respond to huge influxes of traffic in an instant with web instances.
Azure does explicitly support a handful of popular languages: PHP, Java, Node.js, Python and ASP.NET. While any other programming language could be used with their platform (in theory), it would require support from an open-source project dedicated to running that language on Windows Azure’s infrastructure. So if you’re hoping to release a site written in Ruby – or, for some reason, C# –you’d need middleware of some sort for Windows Azure to accommodate you.
Ease of Use
It’s quite simple to get your application running with Windows Azure. Plenty of documentation for any of its explicitly supported languages is available to help you with everything from first steps to full deployment. Windows Azure even provides specific SDKs (software development kits) for its supported languages, allowing you to develop with Azure in mind, making integration and deployment a breeze.
Help and Support
Microsoft does a great job of supporting Windows Azure. It’s overcome the common PaaS ailment of lacking immediate support by offering email and phone support for paying subscribers. It still comes at an additional cost, however, with support packages being offered in tandem with hosting plans.
The written documentation and tutorials for Windows Azure are fantastic and very in-depth. We had little trouble following the written instructions to get our own application up and running. The questions we did have were relatively minor and were quickly answered by an appeal to the Windows Azure community.
Open. Flexible. Rock Solid.
- Use your OS, language, database, tool
- Global datacenter footprint
- Enterprise Grade with up to a 99.95% monthly SLA
- Windows Azure enables you to quickly build, deploy and manage applications across a global network of Microsoft-managed datacenters. You can build applications using any operating system, language or tool.
Start for free and scale as you go
Get started for free and scale up as your traffic grows. Build with ASP.NET, PHP or Node.js and deploy in seconds with FTP, Git or TFS.
Infrastructure on your terms
Easily deploy and run Windows Server and Linux virtual machines. Migrate applications and infrastructure without changing existing code.
Turnkey backend solutions for your mobile app
App development with a scalable and secure backend hosted in Windows Azure. Incorporate structured storage, user authentication and push notifications in minutes.
Enterprise-grade cloud platform
Create highly-available, infinitely scalable applications and services using a rich Platform as a Service (PaaS) environment. Support multi-tier scenarios, automated deployments and elastic scale.
Get actionable insights from your data
Take advantage of a fully compatible enterprise-ready Hadoop service. This PaaS offering provides easy management and integrates with Active Directory and System Center.
Ingest, Encode, Protect, Stream
Create, manage and distribute media in the cloud. This PaaS offering provides everything from encoding to content protection to streaming and analytics support.