Microsoft has announced its Azure Services Platform, designed to help developers build next-generation applications that will extend from the cloud to the enterprise data centre while delivering new experiences across the PC, Web and phone.

The platform was unveiled by Microsoft's chief software arhcitect Ray Ozzie during the Microsoft Professional Developers Conference 2008.
Ozzie described how the platform combines cloud-based developer capabilities with storage, computational and networking infrastructure services, all hosted on servers operating within Microsoft's global data centre network. This provides developers with the ability to deploy applications in the cloud or on-premises and enables experiences across a broad range of business and consumer scenarios.
"Today marks a turning point for Microsoft and the development community," Ozzie says. "We have introduced a game-changing set of technologies that will bring new opportunities to Web developers and business developers alike.
"The Azure Services Platform, built from the ground up to be consistent with Microsoft's commitment to openness and interoperability, promises to transform the way businesses operate and how consumers access their information and experience the Web.
"Most important, it gives our customers the power of choice to deploy applications in cloud-based Internet services or through on-premises servers, or to combine them in any way that makes the most sense for the needs of their business."
The Azure Services Platform provides developers with the flexibility and ability to create applications while taking advantage of their existing skills, tools and technologies such as the Microsoft .Net Framework and Visual Studio.
Developers also can choose from a broad range of commercial or open source development tools and technologies, and access the Azure Services Platform using a variety of common Internet standards including HTTP, representational state transfer (REST), WS-* and Atom Publishing Protocol (AtomPub).
Key components of the Azure Services Platform include the following:
* Windows Azure for service hosting and management, low-level scalable storage, computation and networking;
* Microsoft SQL Services for a wide range of database services and reporting;
* Microsoft .NET Services which are service-based implementations of familiar .NET Framework concepts such as workflow and access control;
* Live Services for a consistent way for users to store, share and synchronize documents, photos, files and information across their PCs, phones, PC applications and Web sites; and
* Microsoft SharePoint Services and Microsoft Dynamics CRM Services for business content, collaboration and rapid solution development in the cloud.
During the keynote, Ozzie said of Windows Azure: "It's designed to be the foundation, to be the bedrock, underneath all of Microsoft's service offerings for consumers and business alike."