The Windows Azure Platform is an open and flexible cloud platform that enables you to quickly build, deploy and manage applications across a global network of Microsoft-managed datacenters. You can build applications using any language, tool or framework. And you can integrate your public cloud applications with your existing IT environment.
The Windows Azure Platform delivers a minimum 99.9% monthly SLA and enables you to build and run highly available applications without focusing on the infrastructure. It provides automatic OS and service patching, built in network load balancing and resiliency to hardware failure. It supports a deployment model that enables you to upgrade your application without downtime.
With several products, including Appfabric and SQL Azure, the Windows Azure Platform delivers familiar tools to developers wanting to embrace the Cloud and really push forward with application development.
With the new persistent virtual machine role (IaaS), you can now move a wide variety of off-the-shelf IT systems you may be running on-premises to the Cloud, including SharePoint, SQL Server and Active Directory. This can be achieved with zero development and can seamlessly connect to your existing network. Using IaaS can significantly reduce the cost of delivering your core IT systems, in combination with Azure's PaaS capabilities for applications in your control.