Windows azure in simple words is a hosting platform by Microsoft. Microsoft provides its own dataware houses to provide scabale and efficient platform to host applications and services.

Windows Azure™ is a cloud services operating system that serves as the development, service hosting and service management environment for the Windows Azure platform. Windows Azure provides developers with on-demand compute and storage to host, scale, and manage web applications on the internet through Microsoft® datacenters.

Windows Azure is a flexible platform that supports multiple languages and integrates with your existing on-premises environment. To build applications and services on Windows Azure, developers can use their existing Microsoft Visual Studio® expertise. In addition, Windows Azure supports popular standards, protocols and languages including SOAP, REST, XML, Java, PHP and Ruby. Windows Azure is now commercially available in 40 countries.

Application Scenarios:

Windows Azure is a service that allows developers to run applications and store data on servers owned and operated by Microsoft. These cloud applications can be targeted at businesses, consumers or both. Some examples are:
•Enterprises that use Windows Azure to run their own line-of-business, batch processing or large-volume computations.
•An independent software vendor (ISV) that creates a SaaS application targeted towards business users.
•Perform large-volume storage, batch processing, intense or large-volume computations
•An ISV that creates a SaaS application targeted towards consumers.

Benefits:
•Agility: Take advantage of development tools, automated service management and global datacenter presence to respond faster to customer needs, focus on your competitive differentiators, and reach new markets.
•Efficiency: Windows Azure improves productivity and increases operational efficiency by lowering up-front capital costs. Customers and partners can realize a reduction in Total Cost of Operations of some workloads by up to 30 – 40% over a 3 year period . The consumption based pricing, packages and discounts for partners lower the barrier to entry for cloud services adoption and ensure a predictable IT spend. •Focus: Focus on delivering services and value to your customers – and not on managing technology infrastructure. Windows Azure enables you to spend less time on operational hurdles and more time focusing on your competitive differentiators.
•Simplicity: Utilize your existing skills in familiar languages such as .NET, Java and PHP to create and manage web applications and services.
•Trustworthy: Enterprise class service backed by a reliable service level agreements and a rich online services experience.