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Microsoft Remakes Azure, Supports Linux

Running a 90-Day Free Azure Trial, Too

Microsoft has decided it wants to be popular.

It's remade Windows Azure as both infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS), software-as-a-service (SaaS) and platform-as-a-service (PaaS) with Linux support - so the rumors were right - since public clouds are largely Linux instances.

The Linux distributions supported include OpenSUSE 12.1, CentOS 6.2, Ubuntu 12.04 and SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 11 SP2. (Red Hat itself was, evidently, too much to ask for given it's a cloud rival and had its own cloud announcement this week but CentOS is a Red Hat clone.)

That should theoretically let Azure chase after Amazon, Rackspace, OpenStack and, as of Wednesday, Oracle, not to mention HP, Dell and everybody else.

Microsoft has also bought into the hybrid cloud, a concept Amazon only supports with Eucalyptus in tow. Azure will also have all-SSD block storage, something Amazon is only grudging with.

Windows Server 2008 R2 and the Windows Server 2012 Release Candidate VMs will obviously be supported. It says it still has to get all the third-party Windows apps over to Azure. 

Bill Laing, corporate VP for server and cloud at Microsoft, summarized the changes in a blog posting:

  • Windows Azure Virtual Machines - Virtual Machines give you application mobility, allowing you to move your virtual hard disks (VHDs) back and forth between on-premises and the cloud. Migrate existing workloads such as Microsoft SQL Server or Microsoft SharePoint to the cloud, bring your own customized Windows Server or Linux images, or select from a gallery. As a common virtualization file format, VHD has been adopted by hundreds of vendors and is a freely available specification covered under the Microsoft Open Specification Promise.

  • Windows Azure Virtual Network - Virtual Network lets you provision and manage virtual private networks (VPNs) in Windows Azure as well as securely extend on-premises networks into the cloud. It provides control over network topology, including configuration of IP addresses, routing tables and security policies and uses the industry-standard IPSEC protocol to provide a secure connection between your corporate VPN gateway and Windows Azure.

  • Windows Azure Web Sites - Build web sites and applications with this highly elastic solution supporting .NET, Node.js, and PHP while using common deployment techniques like Git and FTP. Windows Azure Web Sites will also allow easy deployment of open source applications like WordPress, Joomla!, DotNetNuke, Umbraco and Drupal to the cloud with a few clicks. (Expect MySQL and SQL Servers as backends.)

  • New tools, language support, and SDK - Windows Azure SDK June 2012 includes new developer capabilities for writing code against the latest service improvements with updated support for Java, PHP and .NET, and the addition of Python as a supported language on Windows Azure. Additionally, the SDK now provides 100% command line support for both Windows and Mac. (There will also be a new management portal.)

  • Availability in New Countries- Availability of Windows Azure is being expanded to customers in 48 new countries, including Russia, South Korea, Taiwan, Turkey, Egypt, South Africa and Ukraine. Roll-out will be complete later this month, making Windows Azure one of the most widely available cloud platforms in the industry with offerings in 89 countries and in 19 local currencies.

Microsoft is running a 90-day free trial of Azure. During the preview period that started Thursday Linux VMs will be discounted. Depending on size they'll cost 13 cents an hour to 64 cents an hour.

More Stories By Maureen O'Gara

Maureen O'Gara the most read technology reporter for the past 20 years, is the Cloud Computing and Virtualization News Desk editor of SYS-CON Media. She is the publisher of famous "Billygrams" and the editor-in-chief of "Client/Server News" for more than a decade. One of the most respected technology reporters in the business, Maureen can be reached by email at maureen(at)sys-con.com or paperboy(at)g2news.com, and by phone at 516 759-7025. Twitter: @MaureenOGara

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