The Microsoft cloud computing environment is the physical and logical infrastructure as well as the hosted applications and platform services. Global Foundation Services (GFS) team in Microsoft provides the physical and logical cloud infrastructure at Microsoft including many platform services.

  • Physical infrastructure includes the data center facilities themselves, as well as the hardware and components that support the services and networks.
  • Logical infrastructure consists of operating system instances, routed networks, and unstructured data storage, whether running on virtual or physical objects.

Microsoft cloud platform services, such as infrastructure services, may be virtualized or actual. Platform services include:

  • compute runtimes - such as IIS, the .NET Framework, SQL Server,
  • identity and directory stores - such as Active Directory and Windows Live ID,
  • name services - DNS, and
  • other advanced functions consumed by online services

Online applications running in the Microsoft cloud include simple and complex products designed for a range of customers. These online services, and the corresponding security and privacy requirements, can be broadly grouped as offerings for:

  • Consumer and Small Business Services – Examples include Windows Live Messenger, Windows Live Hotmail, Live Search, Xbox LIVE®, and Microsoft Office Live
  • Enterprise Services – Such as Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online and the Microsoft Business Productivity Online Standard Suite, including Exchange Online, SharePoint® Online, and Office Live Meeting.
  • Third-party hosted services – Includes Web-based applications and solutions that are developed and operated by third parties using platform services provided through the Microsoft cloud computing environment.

For more details, you can check the Global Foundation Services (GFS) website and the White Paper - Securing Microsoft’s Cloud Infrastructure.

Microsoft Cloud Computing Tools

Windows Azure is the development, hosting, and management environment of the Azure Services Platform that enables you to run applications at Internet scale while leveraging the skills and tools you use today. Windows Azure Tools for Microsoft Visual Studio extends Visual Studio to enable you to create, build, debug, run, and package scalable services on Windows Azure.

The Live Framework is the uniform way for programming Live Services from a variety of platforms, programming languages, applications, and devices. With the Live Framework, you can easily build and deploy applications in the cloud that sync across multiple devices. The Live Framework Tools extend Visual Studio to simplify end-to-end development and creation of Mesh-enabled Web applications. You can create, build, run, debug, and package these applications for the Live Desktop

more information at: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/vstudio/cc972640.aspx