Microsoft is planning to launch new Windows Azure services designed for rolling out hybrid clouds, including those running Linux virtual machines.
While the full picture will only emerge at an official event on Thursday, Microsoft server and cloud chief Bill Laing has already highlighted some of the key features, such as virtual machines that allow virtual hard disks (VHDs) to be moved between premises and public Azure cloud infrastructure.
"Migrate existing workloads such as Microsoft SQL Server or Microsoft SharePoint to the cloud, bring your own customised Windows Server or Linux images, or select from a gallery," Laing wrote in a blog post on Wednesday. "As a common virtualisation file format, VHD has been adopted by hundreds of vendors and is a freely available specification covered under the Microsoft Open Specification Promise."
Prior to these new developments, Azure was more of a platform-as-a-service offering, almost entirely intended for creating and deploying applications. Now, however, it is becoming an infrastructure-as-a-service product as well, letting enterprises use their own Windows Server and Linux images in persistent virtual machines.
According to ZDNet.com, the VMs can run Windows Server 2008 R2, the Windows Server 2012 release candidate, and also OpenSUSE 12.1, CentOS 6.2, Ubuntu 12.04 and SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 11 SP2 images.
Migrate existing workloads such as Microsoft SQL Server or Microsoft SharePoint to the cloud, bring your own customised Windows Server or Linux images, or select from a gallery.– Bill Laing, Microsoft
Users can build websites in .NET, Node.js, and PHP, using the new Azure Web Sites service. The service can also be used for deploying WordPress, Joomla, Drupal and other open-source CMS applications, according to Laing.
Developers writing in Python will get Azure support for the first time, and those coding with Java, PHP and .NET will also get "updated support", he added.
Meanwhile, the Azure Virtual Network service, which appears to build on the Connect feature announced a year ago, gives IT departments a way to provision VPNs while controlling network topology elements such as security policies and IP address configuration.
Microsoft is also extending the availability of Azure to 48 new countries, taking the total to 89. The new countries include Russia, South Africa and Turkey.
Get the latest technology news and analysis, blogs and reviews delivered directly to your inbox with ZDNet UK's newsletters.