By Mark Sutton
Windows Azure to form central part of Microsoft's platform for cloud computing
Microsoft has made its play for cloud computing, with the announcement of Windows Azure.
Azure will provide the central platform for storage, computing and networking in Microsoft’s Azure Services Platform, which is intended to software and services to a range of platforms.
Speaking at the Microsoft Professional Developers Conference 2008 (PDC2008), chief software architect Ray Ozzie described the launch as “a turning point for Microsoft and the development community”.
The Azure service platform will consist of Windows Azure, Microsoft SQL Services for database services and reporting, Microsoft .NET Services, Live Services for users to store data across different platforms and Microsoft SharePoint Services and Microsoft Dynamics CRM Services for content and collaboration services.
Microsoft has been building its data centre infrastructure to support more cloud-based computing, to help it compete with leading players in the sector like Google and Amazon. A key point of Azure, according to Ozzie, is that it will allow developers to use their existing skills in technologies such as .NET and Visual Studio to create new cloud applications for PC, web or phone.
Developers attending the event will get a limited community technology preview (CTP), with the platform set for a gradual testing period through out the rest of this year and next.
Ozzie commented: “We have introduced a game-changing set of technologies that will bring new opportunities to Web developers and business developers alike. The Azure Services Platform, built from the ground up to be consistent with Microsoft’s commitment to openness and interoperability, promises to transform the way businesses operate and how consumers access their information and experience the Web.
"Most important, it gives our customers the power of choice to deploy applications in cloud-based Internet services or through on-premises servers, or to combine them in any way that makes the most sense for the needs of their business,” he added.