Microsoft on Thursday is unveiling new Windows Azure cloud services, including support for Linux-based operating systems.
Microsoft, which thought of Linux as a rival, will now offer several Linux distributions. They are Suse Linux Enterprise Server 11 SP2, OpenSuse 12.1, Ubuntu 12.04 and CentOS 6.2.
Microsoft is also offering a number of services to allow Azure cloud services users the ability to create “hybrid” cloud platforms of different uses.
Microsoft is scheduled to officially announce the new Azure services later Thursday, but Bill Laing, Microsoft’s corporate vice president for server and cloud, introduced them in a blog Wednesday afternoon.
“Tomorrow we will release previews of new Windows Azure services which simplify building applications that span cloud and on-premises servers,” Laing wrote. “By combining infrastructure and platform services, these new capabilities of Windows Azure give you greater flexibility in how to build or bring your applications to the cloud.”
New Azure features include the following:
- Windows Azure virtual machines will allow migration of Microsoft SQL Server of Microsoft SharePoint to the cloud.
- Windows Azure Virtual Network will enable users to provision and manage virtual private networks in Azure.
- Windows Azure Web sites will allow developers to build sites supporting .NET, Nodes.js, and PHP.
- New tools and SDK includes capabilities for writing code for new service improvements.
- Availability of Azure will be expanded to 48 countries.
One Azure expert said the announcement is a major step forward for Microsoft to make Azure a true cloud player.
"Until now, Microsoft has never competed directly with Amazon EC2 with respects to IaaS nor with cloud platforms like Heroku,” said Wade Wegner, CTO of Bangalore, India-based Aditi Technologies, a Microsoft cloud platform provider and the 2010 Windows Azure Partner of the Year. “The new IaaS and Web sites capabilities, combined with the ability to extend on-premises networks to the cloud, provides a number of ways that Windows Azure can distinguish itself from other platforms and will help to drive many enterprises and a large number of developers to adopt Windows Azure.”