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Microsoft updates Azure for modern business

Satya Nadella CEO of Microsoft Corp.

SAN FRANCISCO – Microsoft not only tried to bridge the gap between the desktop workers and modern workers with Windows 8.1 but also with its Azure cloud services.

At the Build conference, Microsoft’s president of server and tools business Satya Nadella announced the general availability of Windows Azure Web Sites. This has been in preview mode in the market place but now channel partners, app developers and customers will get full enterprise class support from the company and they can also implement service level agreements (SLA), Nadella said.

Microsoft also announced the general availability of Windows Azure Mobile Services along with Visual Studio 2013 in preview mode and a .Net 4.5.1 framework update.

Scott Guthrie, corporate vice president of Windows Azure at Microsoft, said the biggest new feature will be Autoscale. “We have baked in the Autoscale feature for Windows Azure and I look forward to seeing what developers can build on the Azure platform,” he said.

Autoscale configures a basic set of rules to increase compute capacity during high peak traffic times for your Web site. This Autoscale features manage the bandwidth capacity on its own and within budgets. And, you can do Autoscale across multi compute areas.

Currently, Microsoft said they have more than 20,000 active apps on Windows Azure Mobile Services.

Guthrie said that there will be an increase in the number of apps specific for the enterprise made by channel partners and app developers enabling them to build more SaaS solutions because of the update of Windows Azure Active Directory.

He showed how businesses can get access to apps on the cloud like Yammer, Office 365, and even non-Microsoft products such as DocuSign, Google Apps, Salesforce.com, Evernote and even Amazon Web Services.

Through a Microsoft alliance vendor partner Box, businesses can add any app and enable its workforce because Box is integrated with Active Directory.

Guthrie added that businesses do not have to worry about data leaving if the worker leaves the company or the account is suspended with Windows Azure SaaS Identity Management, which was released by Microsoft in preview mode at the show.

Aaron Levie, the co-founder and CEO of Box, based in Los Altos, Calif., said that Box provides a cloud service that helps company’s store and share information anywhere. He is positioning Box to work on Windows desktop, Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone OS.

“I am really excited about this whole new Microsoft. Their openness is amazing to see. I have not seen this kind of open development from Microsoft on a Mac (which they did at the Build conference),” Levie said.

Levie added that this new found openness from Microsoft will bring about more innovation not just from the software giant but also from its partners and startups. He said that there is huge market opportunity with $290 billion current spent on on-premise software. “All that can move to the cloud,” Levie said.

Windows Azure BizTalk was also released in preview mode at the Build conference.

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For more on how senior managers should think about the cloud, view this episode of CIO TV: The way CIOs need to think about the cloud