Microsoft today made several extensions to its cloud computing strategy designed to make it possible to run larger virtual machines on the Microsoft Azure cloud. The company is also introducing a Microsoft Cloud Platform System based on an appliance from Dell that IT organizations deploy on premise to create their own private cloud based on the same software Microsoft used to build the Azure Cloud.
In addition, Microsoft announced today that CoreOS, a distribution of Linux optimized for containers, will become the fifth distribution of Linux to become available on Microsoft Azure and that the distribution of Hadoop from Cloudera will also be available on Microsoft Azure. Previously, Microsoft announced its intention to support containers on Windows Server as well.
Finally, Microsoft launched Azure Marketplace, an app store through which IT organizations can peruse the virtual machines, applications and services available on the Microsoft Azure cloud.
Scott Guthrie, executive vice president for the Microsoft Cloud and Enterprise group, says that by making use of the latest Intel Xeon processors, the new G Family of servers on the Microsoft Azure cloud is now the largest virtual machine platform available in the cloud. Each one provides access to 32 CPU cores and can be configured with 450GB of RAM and 6.5TB of local solid-state disk (SSD) storage. Microsoft is also offering an Azure Premium Storage service to provide 32TB of storage per virtual machine that can be accessed in sub-milliseconds.
Microsoft claims it is signing up 10,000 new customers per week and that it has 1.2 million instances of SQL relational databases running on Azure. In addition, Guthrie says two million developers have signed up to use Microsoft Visual Studio Online, and 40 percent of its revenues are generated by independent software vendors (ISVs).
Guthrie also says 30 trillion objects are now stored in the Microsoft Azure cloud and that over 350 million Active Directory users on Microsoft Azure generate 18 billion authentications a week.
Microsoft is going out of its way to make sure everyone knows that Azure is now one of the largest cloud computing platforms in the world. As such, it can compete on price against all comers. The degree to which that matters to individual customers will vary. But the one thing that is for certain is that Microsoft intends to differentiate itself from other cloud service providers by being be a major force in the age of the hybrid cloud regardless of whether that cloud happens to run on its own infrastructure or on a customer’s premise.