At the beginning of January Microsoft launched its Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) cloud computing offering: Windows Azure.
Despite the company’s Chief Architect Ray Ozzie said that Azure will be able to compete with Amazon EC2 and similar Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) clouds, this component is not yet accessible, or at least we couldn’t find it, and Microsoft didn’t even officially confirm it exists.
A couple of months ago virtualization.info suggested that the IaaS component of Azure may appear in March, because Microsoft is going to release a cloud toolkit that month.
It seems that Azure will indeed start hosting virtual machines in March 2010 according to TechTarget:
…Microsoft has announced plans to add support for Remote Desktops and virtual machines (VMs) to Windows Azure, and the company also says that prices for Azure, now a baseline $0.12 per hour, will be subject to change every so often.
Prashant Ketkar, marketing director for Azure, said that the service would be adding Remote Desktop capabilities as soon as possible, as well as the ability to load and run virtual machine images directly on the platform. Ketkar did not give a date for the new features, but said they were the two most requested items…
The quoted part of the article doesn’t mention the timeframe that was originally published but somebody has been fast enough to quote it:
Microsoft is expected to add support for Remote Desktops and virtual machines (VMs) to Windows Azure by the end of March, and the company also says that prices for Azure, now a baseline $0.12 per hour, will be subject to change every so often…
March or not, Microsoft has acknowledged once again that Windows Azure will host virtual machines. This will put the company in direct competition with Amazon and VMware on the public/private cloud front.
If Microsoft can host a significant number of companies on Azure, it may improve the market perception around Hyper-V. Additionally, customers that will be able to experience and judge the Microsoft approach to cloud computing without running expensive pilots, may build confidence in a Hyper-V powered private cloud.