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A cloud OS, Windows Azure is. OS here is a collective term to signify the abilities to identify and manage computation, networking, and storage  resources in data center and form a multi-tenant environment to host application instances relying on these resources. These concepts have been much discussed.

"Web Site" is a new feature (and in preview as of July 23, 2012) of the upcoming Windows Azure. Now it is amazingly simple to establish web presence for either production use, or research and development to quickly launch, scale, and take down an ephemeral site, for example, with very little effort and low cost. A user will be able to quickly create a web site with Windows Azure Database (previously known as SQL Azure) or MySQL, from a gallery with open source applications in multiple frameworks (ASP.NET, PHP, Node.js). Additionally, various development and deployment tools including Visual Studio, Git, FTP, and WebMatrix are all supported. There is also built-in monitoring of performance and usage data.

clip_image002IT pros must not overlook this feature and assume all web sites on all platforms are created equal. Windows Azure is a cloud platform and the Web Site feature comes with all the essential characteristics of a cloud application. High availability, load balancing, fault and update domains, scalability, and elasticity are either automatically available at web site creation time or configurable with deployment settings in Windows Azure. The deployment of an industrial-strength business-ready web site with global reach and the predictability of go-to-market with extremely low TCO are now simply within a matter of minutes at an IT operations level. And both are strategic IT capabilities for a business or an organization of any size. Developing, establishing, and maintaining a cloud application is no longer a developer’s specialty and becoming part of IT pros’ routines.

Get a free trial Windows Azure account and install WebMatrix to start experimenting and expanding your IT capabilities. The following samples some of the user experience. There are also a Windows Azure Pricing Calculator to help realizing the cost model and free Microsoft Patterns and Practices ebooks offering general guidance on architecting and developing cloud applications.

Below shows, in Windows Azure management portal, a wizard guiding the user to start and create a web site integrated with database or from a gallery with just a few clicks.

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There are blogs, CMS, and ecommerce open source apps included in the gallery.

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WebMatrix, a free web tool from Microsoft, delivers a rich and consistent Windows user experience in developing and deploying a web site by offering templates and popular open source applications.

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