This blog post is definitely for the techies amongst you!

Things are changing very rapidly in the way that ICT services can be delivered and used in education. Although most of the developments from major ICT providers aren’t specific to education, they are addressing the issues that education faces today.

Windows Azure logo blOne of the developments is the Windows Azure system, which is designed to allow you to run services and develop applications for a cloud-based system, instead of having a big pile of servers within your college.

Unless you’ve got a pile of developers in your college (and I know that some of you do!) then I guess you aren’t going to be buried in the detail of how these services work – because it will mainly be used by your suppliers, as they think about moving some of their applications to the cloud.

The official summary blurb for Azure describes it thus:

The Windows Azure platform offers a flexible, familiar environment for developers to create cloud applications and services. With Windows Azure, you can shorten your time to market and adapt as demand for your service grows.

Windows Azure offers a platform that is easily implemented alongside your current environment.

- Windows Azure: operating system as an online service
- Microsoft SQL Azure: fully relational cloud database solution
- Windows Azure platform AppFabric: makes it simpler to connect cloud services and on-premises applications

And I’ve found a short video that provides an overview of Windows Azure in a much more digestible form. Having watched it, I can now describe it to other people much better (and now fully appreciate why it’s a good thing!).

The best simple introduction I’ve seen for Windows Azure

If you can’t see the video above, then here’s a direct link. However, as it’s a YouTube video, it may be blocked by your web filter – unfortunately I couldn’t find a copy anywhere else.

Fascinating fact: Steve Marx has blogged about how he made this video - using just PowerPoint & Community Clips. I’m envious of his talent.


If this is a bit lightweight for you, then you may prefer to read the Introducing Windows Azure whitepaper (PDF) – just one of many whitepapers on Windows Azure