Windows Azure, the mobile back end as a service platform, has added custom APIs, Git, NPM, Android Push Notifications, along with a free SQL DB. As Scott Guthrie, who builds for Microsoft, demonstrates on his "Scottgu blog," the creation of custom APIs is extremely simple. Here's the first shot at the start of building an API that works with a to do list.
As he says, just click that little API link on the menu bar (which he highlighted in red) to get started. Similar screen shots mimc this simplicity--anyone can build this. Yet you get a lot of the standard API properties--an auth code, HTTP Post requests that you can switch to GET, and so on. Then, you are done, he says, "After saving the changes, you can now call this API from any Mobile Service client application (including Windows 8, Windows Phone, iOS, Android or HTML5 with CORS)." In three steps you have an API that functions across the mobile universe. Custom APIs can be written in Node.js, with future support for .NET coming. This extension includes the ability to handle any node package module the coder prefers, a client SDK, Android push notifications and 20 MB of free space. Thanks to integration, scripts and permissions can be stored on Git. Perhaps most powerful of all, custom APIs don't have to be associated with a data table.
This illustration of how you can build custom APIs, while simple and powerful, should not obscure the range of what Azure is capable of. To cite one case study, the company has a fascinating video of a Korean online gaming company, Webzen, who turned to Azure in order to survive (and then thrive on) the intense ramp up of users playing their games (screen shot below).
From Milliman, a company working to create a cloud-based insurance solution, to BMW Latin America developing prospects with social media, uses for Azure are diverse, to say the least. These additional tools should help.