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Microsoft Brings IaaS to Windows Azure's PaaS Capabilities

Microsoft includes a Mac and Linux SDK for developers

Microsoft announced yesterday several different improvements to Windows Azure. Scott Guthrie, corporate vice president of Microsoft's developer division, also led a live keynote that demonstrated Windows Azure's new features. Among the new improvements, Microsoft announced that the company is bringing Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) capabilities to Windows Azure's Platform as a Service (PaaS) capabilities. With this move, Microsoft hopes to widen its consumer base by attracting Amazon Web Services customers and open-source developers.

Additionally, one significant piece of news is that Microsoft has improved the .NET SDK for Azure. In addition, Mac and Linux SDKs are now available to developers. "Some of you might be surprised to hear the word 'Linux' in a Microsoft event. Our support of Linux is just one example of how we are embracing openness in a fundamental new way," said Guthrie. Now developers can deploy virtual machines (VMs) in the cloud that run Windows and Linux. Furthermore, all SDKs are open source under an Apache 2.0 license on GitHub.

The offering now includes a new portal that provides users with a unified view for all services and applications that can be run on Windows Azure. Users can drill down into different services for detailed information. In addition, the portal works with any browser and features a consistent UI for ease of use and productivity. If the portal isn't to your liking, users can also utilize Microsoft's command-line support for Windows Azure.

Virtual Machine Improvements

Windows Azure also includes a new VPN capability, which lets users create private networks between any end point and systems running in Azure. In addition, Microsoft has developed Windows Azure to work easily with other existing VPN services so users don't have to rely on third-party solutions.

In addition, Microsoft has included VM portability between the cloud and different environments. Now all VMs in Windows Azure run on an open-spec VHD file format. Because of this file format, users can move their VMs to Windows Azure, data centers, or other service providers without exporting or converting the VHDs. The end result provides users with the ability to deploy VMs with flexibility and portability.

A new VM persistent drive capability lets users mount durable drives to their VMs. Once the drive is mounted, it's backed with the Windows Azure storage system. Within this storage system, data is triple replicated to ensure that data loss is nearly impossible in the event of a failure. In addition, a continuous storage and geo-replication ability lets data be replicated in the background to another data center that's several hundred miles away.

Windows Azure Web Sites Service

Windows Azure's new Web Sites service lets developers create and deploy ASP.NET, Node.js, or PHP websites to a cloud environment. In addition, users can start building websites for free and can scale as traffic grows. Also, Windows Azure Web Sites lets users easily deploy open-source apps such as WordPress, Joomla!, and DotNetNuke to the cloud without having to write any code. Finally, Microsoft is providing users with 10 free shared sites to get started with the Windows Azure Web Sites service.

Get Started with the New Windows Azure

Hopefully, you have a good idea about the significant improvements that were made in Windows Azure. However, there's still a ton of new features and services that have been included in this announcement. To learn more about Windows Azure's new improvements and features, watch the recording of Guthrie's keynote. In addition, Guthrie has written about the announcement on his blog and vice president of Windows Azure's marketing division, Bob Kelly, has also provided an overview of the product's improvements. In addition, you can get started with Windows Azure by visiting Microsoft's website to download client libraries, source code, and SDKs. What did you think about the announcement? Tell us your thoughts!

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