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Several solution providers that already work with Microsoft on Azure said the official general availability of the infrastructure services would help them attract new customers -- especially those nervous about adopting cloud services -- because of the service level agreements.
"It shows Microsoft's commitment to the stability of the service," said Joel Forman, national solution architect at Slalom Consulting, a Seattle-based Microsoft partner that works with Azure and Microsoft's Office 365 cloud applications. The SLAs "open more doors and improve the level of comfort of customers. I think we'll get more traction in getting those customers to start moving to the cloud," he said.
Forman said Slalom plans on offering customers a range of services around Azure Infrastructure Services, from migration services to consulting on planning for organizational and operational change.
Microsoft's challenge with Azure will be adapting the product to keep up with the rapid pace of change in cloud technology, including features and functionality relating to performance and security. Also critical is keeping the software's development tools and capabilities up to par. "It's amazing how fast new features and functionality are being introduced," Forman said.
Reed Wiedower, CTO at New Signature, a Washington, D.C.-based solution provider, said Microsoft's pricing model will make it easier for his company to sell customers on Azure. "Azure has a subscription-based model, but that subscription extends across every product in the Azure suite," he said.
Rick Whiting contributed to this story.