Before we start to talk about the Azure platform, let's have a look at the movie below to understand what students really know about cloud computing.

With cloud computing your applications do no longer have to run on your pc or on servers in your datacenter. With Windows Azure, Microsoft's cloud operating system, it is now possible to run your applications on an infrastructure that is owned by Microsoft. This enables you to very quickly scale to the computing power that you need at a certain moment (you can simply add more virtual servers to accommodate an increasing number of users of your application), while saving you time and money because you do not have to worry about installing, configuring, maintaining and upgrading your infrastructure. The same is valid for your data: with SQL Azure you can store your data in the cloud and make this data available to both applications that you run in the cloud and to traditional applications that run on your pc. This way, you will never run out of storage capacity and there is always a backup of your data.

It is clear that this paradigm shift will have a huge impact on the way IT is done today. Microsoft will enable all its software as a cloud service (some for free, some as a paid service): Office Web Apps for instance offers you a simplified version of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote which allows you to create, view and edit documents within your web browser, and this on wide range of devices like phones, PCs, TVs, etc. Software vendors all around the world are shifting their technology and business models towards cloud computing, so definitely worth to investigate it in more detail!

The movie below explains you what the Azure platform is all about:

Find out more about its storage capabilities:

David Chappell wrote a good whitepaper "Introducing the Windows Azure Platform", which you can download here

Stay tuned about the latest updates on the homepage of the Windows Azure Platform.

Get started to build your own application in the cloud:

  • Download the tools

Click here to get the Windows Azure Tools for Visual Studio, so you can start building and debugging applications. As a student or professor, you can download Visual Studio 2010 for free (there is no reason to limit yourself to the Express edition): Professional Edition (EN) through DreamSpark and Professional, Premium and Ultimate Editions (EN,FR) through MSDNAA.

  • Learn how to create an application for Windows Azure
    • On Faculty Connection you can find a presentation about the fundamentals of cloud computing, created by the Upper Austria University of Applied Sciences in Hagenberg.  The source code for the sample application can be found here. Access to this course material is restricted to faculty members only. Please contact us in case you need an access code to verify your faculty status.
    • The Windows Azure Platform Training Kit includes a comprehensive set of technical content including hands-on labs, presentations, and demos that are designed to help you learn how to use the Windows Azure platform including: Windows Azure, SQL Azure and AppFabric.
    • Check out the training course on Channel9.
    • Windows Azure code samples can be found here.
    • A number of webcasts and how-to videos can be found here
    • In case you are developing in Java, PHP or Ruby: click here to check compatibility with the Azure platform.

  • Get an introductory account, deploy and test your application

Please contact us in case you need access tokens to try out the Azure platform.