While Amazon was the early leader in providing cloud services, Microsoft (News - Alert) started to become a serious contender back in 2010 with the launch of its Azure platform – and the tech giant has gone a step further in stepping up its game with the addition of its new cloud business infrastructure service.
Aligning itself in more direct competition with Amazon, Microsoft has officially launched Windows Azure Infrastructure Services – a self-proclaimed “significant step” in Microsoft’s cloud computing strategy, which has been influenced directly by discussions with customers and partners.
“Throughout these conversations, one thing holds true in every discussion – enterprises know that success with the cloud lies in the power of “and,’” the company explained in a company blog post. “Customers don’t want to rip and replace their current infrastructure to benefit from the cloud; they want the strengths of their on-premises investments and the flexibility of the cloud.”
Microsoft’s new service does just that, allowing customers to deploy a broader set of applications and gives them more control over their configuration. The service technically falls into the Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) category – in which the cloud service simulates a hosted environment in a data center that mirrors a similar environment that might exist at a customer’s offices, according to Rob Sanfilippo, an analyst with independent research firm Directions on Microsoft.
But the benefits of the new service are not only about IaaS – as it also combines platform as a service (PaaS) and hybrid scenarios.
“The cloud should be an enabler for innovation, and an extension of your organization’s IT fabric, not just a fancier way to describe cheap infrastructure and application hosting,” the post continued.
Also, Microsoft is going a step further by matching its prices to that of Amazon Web Services (News - Alert) for commodity services such as compute, storage and bandwidth, starting with reducing its GA prices on virtual machines and cloud services by 21 percent to 33 percent.
As Microsoft attests through its new IaaS platform, there is more to cloud than the efficiency derived from getting compute resources, storage capacity or application as a service within minutes. Business agility, new business models, fewer operational models, better use of resources and fewer capital resources are among the biggest cloud business benefits.
For example, automotive marketing and social media firm Digital Air Strike has utilized Windows Azure’s Infrastructure Services and Platform Services to create an instant feedback mechanism for all car purchases and service transactions for automotive giant General Motors (News - Alert) – allowing GM to monitor the health of their customer relationships in near real time, providing deep and valuable business insights.
This is just one instance of the many cloud business benefits that can be cultivated from services such as IaaS and PaaS – and warrants consideration before a business begins to roll out private, hybrid or public cloud-based systems and infrastructure.
Edited by Jamie Epstein