The New Service Levels of Windows Azure
Windows Azure is Microsoft's platform-as-a-service for building cloud-based applications. It offers a wide range of software services beyond pure computation, including storage, service bus, and access control. The APIs for these services let companies create ad hoc applications and host them in Microsoft data centers using a pricing model that best suits their needs.
PaaS binds you to a specific operating system and software runtime environment, and lets you exert limited
control over that environment. But what happens if you want total control over the runtime environment and
want to just rent the infrastructure? For a long time, such an infrastructure-as-a-service scenario wasn't an option in Azure, and companies couldn't buy cloud space from Microsoft just to host a LAMP application. The only way to deploy an application on Azure was to build a new one using the .NET Framework and cloud-specific services, storage, and frameworks.