Microsoft Launches Windows Azure for the Cloud

Microsoft's scalable hosting environment aims to help developers build applications spanning from the cloud to the data center and PCs, the Web, and phones.

At Microsoft's PDC (Professional Developers Conference) in Los Angeles, Chief Software Architect Ray Ozzie unveiled the company's much-anticipated cloud computing platform, dubbed Windows Azure.

Primarily a platform for developers, Windows Azure plays host to the .Net framework, SQL Server, SharePoint, Dynamics CRM, and an offering called Live Services which, according to Ozzie, will extend Azure services "outward" to connect with locally running Microsoft software. Using this rich environment, developers will be able to build and deploy Web applications and services running on Microsoft's worldwide infrastructure of datacenters.

Previously known as Project Red Dog, Windows Azure "is a scalable hosting environment for you to deploy your apps in our cloud," said Microsoft Corporate Vice President Amitabh Srivastava, one of the key players behind the platform.

"Windows Azure is a new Windows offering at the Web tier of computing," said Ray Ozzie, Microsoft chief software architect. "This represents a significant extension" of the Windows computing platform, he said.

Windows Azure serves as the underlying foundation of the Azure Services Platform, which helps developers build applications spanning from the cloud to the datacenter and PCs, the Web, and phones, Microsoft said. Cloud-based developer capabilities are combined with storage, computational, and network infrastructure services. A limited Community Technology Preview of the Azure Services Platform is being made available at PDC.

Key components of Azure Services Platform include the following:

-- Windows Azure, for service hosting and management and low-level scalable storage, computation, and networking.

-- Microsoft SQL Services, for database services and reporting.

-- Microsoft .Net Services, which are service-based implementations of .Net Framework concepts such as workflow.

-- Live Services, for sharing, storing, and synchronizing documents, photos, and files across PCs, phones, PC applications, and Web sites.

-- Microsoft SharePoint Services and Microsoft Dynamics CRM Services for business content, collaboration, and solution development in the cloud.

Ozzie couched the announcement as long in coming. At last, he said, Microsoft could tell the "complete story" of Microsoft's transition to services. "We are deeply and genuinely combining the best of software with the best of services," said Ozzie.

This story, "Microsoft Launches Windows Azure for the Cloud " was originally published by InfoWorld.

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