Microsoft is evaluating CDN, hybrid cloud model and data center sandbox features for Azure

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While waiting to see if Microsoft has any major announcement to make today and/or tomorrow at its Management Summit conference, is able to report about a number of potential features for Azure that the company is evaluating behind the scene.

The first one is a capability for customers to use Azure as a Content Distribution Network (CDN) like Akamai or Amazon S3, and to define specific policies on how to route incoming traffic across multiple instances of an application inside the Azure CDN.

The second one is the capability to provide a set of technologies (like transparent routing across secure channels and network fencing) to bridge on-premises data centers with the Azure facility, creating the same hybrid cloud model that VMware plans to deliver with its upcoming vCloud Service Director (codename project Redwood) and that CloudShare delivers today.

The third and most important one is the capability to use Azure to host micro instances (smaller than the current “small” size) for non-production use, including training, demos, and prototype development.
Again this approach, which Gartner is now calling computing sandbox, seems exactly the same delivered by CloudShare today.

It’s important to clarify that none of the features above are now confirmed as part of the Azure roadmap. According to sources, Microsoft is just discussing them with key customers and early adopters.
Nonetheless it’s very interesting the way Azure may evolve and how seriously the company is currently planning on it.