Originally Posted by jhoff80
Of course, I'm skeptical as well. Just saying what they've mentioned about the servers.
Well, Azure is Microsoft's future according to Paul Thurrott as they transition from primarily a software maker to a service provider. Azure has become one of Microsoft's billion dollar businesses and is rapidly growing. It's not as widely used as Amazon's Web Services but it could potentially get there.
300,000 servers is not necessary for matchmaking. If Microsoft is going to be serving every single game digitally as well as have a disc option and provide all the services that they're purporting to have, they're going to need a lot of servers.http://windowsitpro.com/windows-azure/azure-future-microsoft
When Microsoft announced Windows Azure and SQL Azure at the October 2008 PDC, functionality was fairly limited compared to the amazing array of services it now offers. On the Windows Azure side, what Microsoft initially created was a new platform, analogous to Windows Server, which allowed businesses to deploy applications to the cloud instead of to their on-site servers. A key scenario included so-called "spiky workloads," where buying, provisioning, and servicing enough on-prem servers for, say, a retail store's temporary annual holiday sales explosion would be prohibitively expensive. But doing so in the cloud would let the store pay only for those resources they needed, when they needed it. Bingo: Problem solved.
That initial Microsoft offering is what cloud computing guys call Platform as a Service, or PaaS. This lets you do things like deploy web-based apps, supporting cloud services, SQL (or third-party) databases, and other components directly to Azure. This model is interesting because it bypasses the complexity of the underlying server—you no longer need to maintain the underlying server in a VM—and lets you focus directly on the task at hand.
Since the initial release of Azure, a lot has changed. SQL Azure has since been renamed to Windows Azure SQL Database, which I think is important. (More on that below.) Azure has been extended with tons of additional services, including some in the Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) model, where the primary use case here is creating a virtual machine that runs on Azure, deploying applications or other code to that virtual server, and then running it from the cloud, standalone, in tandem with other cloud-hosted VMs and services, or in tandem with your own internal servers and services. Microsoft offers Windows Server-based VMs, of course, but also Linux and UNIX VMs too. It's a big, happy, heterogeneous family.
Separately but not coincidentally, Microsoft has also embraced the so-called private cloud model where what I think of as "units of computing"—servers in a data center, for example—can be managed from a single pane, such as is possible with Windows Server 2012 and the new Server Manager. Critics mope that private cloud is nothing more than a rebranding of on-premises computing, but that's not fair or accurate. Private cloud, instead, is a formalization of practices from public cloud computing applied to the data center, and it includes the underlying infrastructure as well as management capabilities (perhaps System Center-based in the Microsoft view). As important, Microsoft supports a hybrid model in which organizations can maintain infrastructure on-prem and in the cloud, and interoperate as required; the formalization of private cloud computing will also enable these organizations to more easily move to "pure" public cloud systems when possible, or at least put more and more of their infrastructure offsite over time.