A. At the 2010 PDC, the Azure Virtual Machine Role was announced. It allows an organization to create a VM, install the OS, configure any software required, snapshot the VM to a VHD, then deploy it to the Azure fabric to run. Key to this feature is that the gold state you provide is what the VM will revert to if it's restarted—the state of the VM isn't maintained between restarts. This means you shouldn't deploy any state-dependent services as an Azure VM. The Azure VM role is designed to bring maximum flexibility to application-specification functionality components by allowing OS environments to be configured with various configurations. Be mindful of its intended purpose. This doesn't mean Azure applications can't be stateful as a complete service—you can still use storage such as SQL Azure and other mechanisms to store data that the applications inside the Azure VM can read. You just can't store state within the VM only.