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Microsoft wants Azure cloud to play with the big boys

Microsoft beefed up its Windows Azure cloud platform Thursday, announcing a host of features that take it out of a primarily Platform-as-a-Service role and place it into the realm of Infrastructure-as-a-Service. The Redmond, Wash. company appears ready to take on IaaS heavyweights like Rackspace and Amazon Web Services, as so then as new entrant Oracle, who announced its own cloud offering on Wednesday.

Oracle's announcement yesterday spanned across all of the major aspects of cloud computing -- Software-as-a-Service, PaaS, and IaaS -- and Oracle has gone from a nobody in the cloud to a significant player practically overnight.

Microsoft is enabling users to run persistent virtual machines of both Windows and Linux within Azure. Linux distributions supported include OpenSUSE 12.1, CentOS 6.2, Ubuntu 12.04 and SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 11 SP2, during Windows Server 2008 R2 and the Windows Server 2012 Release Candidate VMs will as well be supported.

Staten says some work nevertheless remains for Azure. "It has a big task previously it to get the thousands of Windows applications built by its partners moved over to Windows Azure", he says. "This is probably their biggest outstanding task, as the ecosystem of partners offering SaaS, PaaS, management tools and cloud services on AWS is a huge reason for its outsized success".

More information: Betanews