Introduction to Windows Azure

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There is a buzz around cloud adoption which promises capacity-on-demand and elasticity. Windows Azure is the answer to cloud from Microsoft. Let us discuss about Azure in a series of articles.

As a first step, I will be discussing about introduction to Windows Azure in this article. 


Windows Azure is part of the larger Windows Azure platform, which is used for running applications and storing data in the cloud.


Windows Azure provides the platform for hosting the application on cloud and support the automatic management of the platform.

Components of Windows Azure

Windows Azure consists of 5 components.

  1. Compute: Runs the application in cloud
  2. Storage: Stores data as part of Azure
  3. Connect: Connect On-premise application to Windows Azure
  4. CDN: Cache the Azure blob data across different datacenters around the world
  5. Fabric Controller: Maintain and update the systems in the data center



Compute can run different kinds of applications. Application functionality is defined as one or more roles. Windows Azure will run one or more instances of each role using in-built Load Balancer.

Web Role: it makes easier to create any web-based applications. Each instance of Web role contains pre-configured IIS in it. We can create the web application using any Microsoft technologies like, WCF or non-Microsoft technologies like Java or PHP.

Worker Role: it is designed to run variety of windows based code. For example, if the application sends automatic mails on receipt of a request from user, the worker role will continuously listen to the request queue and send the mail.

VM Role:  This role will be used for running a user specified Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2 image.


Windows Azure storage service provides three types of storage options.


Blob: Blob is used for storing binary data up to a terabyte size. Also, blobs are the basic storage for Windows Azure drives.

Tables: More structured way of storing the data in Azure storage. Azure Table storage is not relational; it stores the data as entities. For accessing table data, instead of SQL statements we use LINQ queries or using the conventions defined by OData.

Queue: Queues are generally not used for data storage. Queues will be used for passing messages across different role instances. For example, the Web role receives the request from user and place the request in a queue. The worker role will read the request from the queue and process accordingly.


When you move an application to cloud, we may want to keep the database or a portion of the application on-premise. Connect help us to connect the On-premise application to Cloud application. We can deploy our web application to cloud by holding the database on-premise. For connecting the on-premise application to cloud application, we need to install the Endpoint Agent to our on-premise application server, which uses IPSec to connect to the cloud application.  


Content Delivery Network (CDN)

Cloud based application may need to server users across globe. For improving the performance of accessing bulk data from different geographical areas, CDN will cache the data to the nearest data center. When the user accesses the data first time, CDN will locate his nearest geographical location and copy the content to the location. The performance improvement won’t be visible to the first user.


Fabric Controller

Fabric controller manages the systems in the data center and also the software deployed in each system. It works with the Fabric Agent deployed in each system to manage the system. We will discuss more on the fabric controller in next article.


Here, we discussed about what is Windows Azure. We will discuss more on how to create an Azure application, deployment, SQL Azure, etc in next articles.

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About the Author

Full Name: Ambily KK
Member Level: Silver
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Member Since: 5/18/2010 1:05:25 AM
Country: India
Thanks Ambily K K
I have over 9 years of experience working on Microsoft Technologies. I am carrying the passion on Microsoft technologies specifically on web technologies such as ASP .Net and Ajax. My interests also include Office Open XML, Azure, Visual Studio 2010. Technology adoption and learning is my key strength and technology sharing is my passion.

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Comments or Responses

Posted by: Srinath on: 6/13/2011 | Points: 25
Its really superb explanation,thanks alot.....................iam really thankfull to u.
Posted by: Biswarup90 on: 11/24/2011 | Points: 25
Thanks Alot to ma'am...
Posted by: Evergreen on: 11/16/2013 | Points: 25
Thanks for sharing such useful info.

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