Microsoft says, 'Live with us in forests (and clouds) of Azure'

New features and perks are here for Microsoft's cloud-based services. The changes they've made to Azure won't make you blue.

There's lots of stuff going on at TechEd New Orleans this year and all of it without me, unfortunately. One of the more exciting announcements coming out of that conference is Microsoft's expanded Azure services portfolio that are all cloud related. Microsoft has spent the past few years gearing up for its new cloud offerings, including services such as Office365,, and its new flagship operating system Windows 2012 touted as part of its overall "Cloud OS vision."

 Though Microsoft seems like a late comer to the cloud services arena, they really are not. I used their Virtual PC product almost ten years ago to create mini-clouds. They knew early on that virtualization, commodity computing, and cloud were the future. The reason that they seem late to the table is that they spent their time perfecting the platform and correcting the mistakes made by others in the field.

It's a mistake if you ever sell Microsoft short. That's why its stock is on the rise in a major way, while competitor stocks are slipping.

The following is a summary of the announcement made June 3 at TechEd.

"On June 3, at the TechEd North America event in New Orleans, Microsoft highlighted the new portfolio of services that will be offered for cloud computing. The Windows Azure services portfolio will include a significant update to our server line-up (Windows Server, System Center, SQL Server) and new tools (Visual Studio) all built for the cloud. Additionally on May 22, Microsoft CEO, Steve Ballmer announced Microsoft will invest hundreds of millions of dollars to expand Windows Azure in China, Australia and Japan. Microsoft is excited to be one of the first multinational organizations to make public cloud services available in China, and on June 6 customers there can sign up for a free trial."

Additionally, Microsoft has lowered its pricing on Azure services for developers.

"The choice is now yours on how you use your Windows Azure credits for development and test - including Virtual Machines (VMs), Web Sites, Cloud Services, Mobile Services, Storage, SQL Database, Content Delivery Network, HDInsight, Media Services, and many more. As a Visual Studio Ultimate with MSDN subscriber, you’ll receive a $200 USD Windows Azure credit the first month you use your Windows Azure MSDN benefit, then $150 USD per month for subsequent months.

With your Windows Azure MSDN benefit you’ll also get access to preconfigured virtual machines images with MSDN subscription software, such as SQL Server and BizTalk Server. Alternatively, upload your own virtual machine with your MSDN software."

Microsoft has enabled its customers and its developers to fully embrace the cloud and cloud services with these announcements. It will be interesting to follow the developments that branch out from these changes and new offerings. Especially interesting is their preconfigured virtual machines with the Windows Azure MSDN benefit. By providing companies and developers with systems ready to run SQL Server, BizTalk Server, and others, they've reduced development time and frustration significantly.

So tell me, how do you use Azure? Have you taken advantage of Microsoft's cloud offerings? Will these new changes and benefits encourage you to take a closer look? Talk back and let me know.


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