Microsoft launches Windows Azure for the cloud

Cloud-based developer capabilities are combined with storage, computational and network infrastructure services.

Making a major move in the SaaS space, Microsoft introduced its operating system for the cloud, Windows Azure, at the company's Professional Developers Conference in Los Angeles on Monday morning.

Previously known as Project Red Dog, Windows Azure is a scalable hosting environment for deploying applications in Microsoft's cloud, said Microsoft Corporate Vice President Amitabh Srivastava, one of the key developers of the platform.

"Windows Azure is a new Windows offering at the Web tier of computing," said Ray Ozzie, Microsoft chief software architect. "This represents a significant extension" of the Windows computing platform, he said.

Windows Azure serves as the underlying foundation of the Azure Services Platform, which helps developers build applications spanning from the cloud to the datacenter and PCs, the Web, and phones, Microsoft said.

Cloud-based developer capabilities are combined with storage, computational and network infrastructure services. These are hosted on servers within Microsoft's global data center network.

A limited Community Technology Preview of the Azure Services Platform is being made available at PDC.

Key components of Azure Services Platform include the following:

-- Windows Azure, for service hosting and management and low-level scalable storage, computation, and networking.

-- Microsoft SQL Services, for database services and reporting.

-- Microsoft .Net Services, which are service-based implementations of .Net Framework concepts such as workflow.

-- Live Services, for sharing, storing, and synchronizing documents, photos, and files across PCs, phones, PC applications, and Web sites.

-- Microsoft SharePoint Services and Microsoft Dynamics CRM Services for business content, collaboration, and solution development in the cloud.

Developers can leverage .Net Framework and Visual Studio with an Azure Services Platform.

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