Microsoft Azure (Windows Azure) is the name of the Microsoft cloud computing platform. It provides the ability to develop, run applications, and store data on servers located in distributed data centers. Originally the platform was called Windows Azure. In 2014, it was renamed Microsoft Azure.
Microsoft Azure implements cloud platform as a service (PaaS) and infrastructure as a service (IaaS). It is possible to use both third-party and Microsoft services as a model (SaaS). The operability of the Microsoft Azure platform is provided by the network of Microsoft global data centers.
Microsoft has about 600 Azure services. Most popular of them are:
- Azure Blockchain Workbench – complex of Azure services and capabilities that allows users to create and deploy blockchain applications for sharing business processes and data with other organizations. Workbench can be used applying a solution template in the Azure Marketplace.
- Microsoft Azure Machine Learning (Azure ML) is a collaboration tool that supports dragging and dropping of objects to create, test and deploy predictive data analysis solutions
- Azure IoT Hub – environment for organizing bidirectional data exchange between devices and the cloud. This service provides features such as device management and identification, security. It supports MQ Telemetry Transport (MQTT), HTTP, and Advanced Message Queuing Protocol (AMQP) protocols. Since June 2018, Azure uses artificial intelligence on IoT devices.
Microsoft launched the BaaS product (“blockchain as a service”) of Ethereum on Azure, which allows companies across the digital industry to use the flexible version of Ethereum, targeted specifically for the needs of their business. Ethereum on Azure allows different companies to create digital applications based on the Ethereum blockchain, which does not use the Proof-of-Work (PoW) consensus algorithm and, therefore, does not require mining. These functions are better suited for networks where participants are not inclined to trust each other. Instead, Ethereum on Azure uses a proof-of-authority (PoA) algorithm.