Microsoft announced a series of improvements for its Windows Azure cloud computing platform today, aiming to level the playing field with Amazon Web Services and other rivals by making it easier to develop websites and build applications that work across the cloud and traditional corporate servers.
Wizardry aside, what exactly is the company doing with Windows Azure, and what does it mean? Wade Wegner, the chief technology officer of Microsoft partner Aditi Technologies and a former member of the Windows Azure team, offered this context via email.
Today’s release marks a significant milestone for Windows Azure. To date, Windows Azure has been a platform that allows developers to build and run applications across Microsoft’s global datacenters – the key emphasis has been on “applications”. Windows Azure has not been a platform for providing the underlying infrastructure for running your own virtual machine – this has been a key pain point for many customers looking to move to the cloud that Microsoft has heard loud and clear. Today’s announcement makes it clear that Windows Azure is more than just a Platform-as-a-Service provider.
Here’s more from Forrester Research analyst James Staten in this blog post.