Certification with Windows Azure
As part of the range of skills required in a modern development environment, Windows Azure plays an important role in Microsoft's recent reintroduction of the MCSD credential.
Although Azure skills will be valuable in developing any kind of application that has cloud-based components, they are especially relevant in creating Web Applications, and thus form the basis for one of the exams in the Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer: Web Applications certification.
Learn more about developer training and certifications on Visual Studio
MCSD: Web Applications
For developers continuing to work in a Visual Studio 2010 environment, there is a Microsoft Certified Professional Developer certification to validate your Windows Azure skills.
Those who are now beginning Microsoft Developer certification should rather focus on the MCSD certification.
MCPD: Windows Azure Developer
About Windows Azure
While the goal of Windows Azure is to provide a platform for development of cloud-based applications, Windows Azure is all about choices. At each layer of the application, developers have numerous options available.
How and where will an Azure application be executed? There are three options:
Virtual Machines - Windows Azure allows you to create a virtual machine on demand from either standard images, or your own custom image. While this places the full administration of that machine in your hands, it also gives you complete flexibility. You specify the VMs size, and have the ability to pay by the hour, only for when that VM is running. This is referred to as Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS).
Web Sites - Windows Azure offers a managed web environment using IIS. Add or remove instances dynamically to scale to your needs. In addition to .NET, it supports PHP, Node.js, SQL Database, MySQL, WordPress, Joomla and Drupal.
Cloud Services - When you need to create a cloud application that is completely reliable, and don't wish the full responsibility of VM administration, Windows Azure provides Cloud Services, also known as Platform as a Service (PaaS).
Windows Azure provides three models of data management, depending on your needs.
SQL Database (formerly called SQL Azure) - provides relational database capabilities supporting complex queries and familiar data access technologies, as a PaaS service.
Tables - An implementation of "NoSQL", Windows Azure Tables support fast access to typed data where complex queries are not needed. This is an extremely fast and efficient way to store and access large amounts of simpler data.
Blobs - are designed to store unstructured binary data, such as video and backup data, and file storage.
In addition to the Execution Model and Data Management options above, Windows Azure allows you to mix and match Networking options, provides options for Business Analytics, Messaging and Caching. It also provides services for High-Performance Computing (HPC) in parallel execution, and specialized Media and Commerce services.