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Windows Azure To Power Chinese Internet TV

Deal marks Microsoft's biggest cloud collaboration play in China's online television market.

Microsoft announced Monday a partnership with a Chinese Internet television provider under which its Windows Azure cloud operating system will act as a backbone for a range of content and Web services in the People's Republic.

The deal, with Shanghai-based PPTV, marks Microsoft's first major cloud deal with a Chinese new media company.

Under the agreement, PPTV will use Azure as the hosting backbone and core infrastructure for PPTV ATN, a cloud-based Internet TV service that will roll out across China. Services will include live-event streaming and video-on-demand for TVs, PCs, and mobile devices. The deal could also expand to include other services launched collaboratively by Microsoft and PPTV, the companies said.

"PPTV chose the Windows Azure platform because of its reliability, scalability, and global availability, which can accelerate PPTVs international expansion," said PPTV CEO Chuang Tao, in a statement.

[ Windows users are getting more public cloud choices. See Microsoft White Labels Azure In Windows Server 2012. ]

"With Windows Azure, we can offer scale and flexibility not found anywhere else. We can also avoid unpredictable resource and demand fluctuations globally. This is a new competitive edge for our business," said Tao.

PPTV will allow content providers from around the globe to upload content onto its network, for distribution in China. Some of the content will be licensed to individual Internet service providers in the country for local delivery.

Microsoft said the deal is another proof point for its Azure service, and cloud computing in general. "Cloud computing is generally recognized as the next generation of information technology," said Ya-Qin Zhang, chairman of Microsoft's Asia-Pacific R&D group, in a statement.

"Microsoft is making solid progress bringing Windows Azure to China through collaboration with local partners. It's a great example of how Microsoft supports China Internet companies' innovation, efficiency, and sustainable growth in a global market," said Zhang.

The deal marks another milestone for Azure, which Microsoft launched in early 2010. Additions Microsoft made to Azure this year are moving it from platform-as-a-service (PaaS) into a more comprehensive infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) offering, a market where Amazon dominates in North America with Amazon Web Services.

PaaS typically offers users and developers a plug-and-play environment for apps, but key choices, like underlying OS and database, are limited. IaaS provides raw computing power, and users get more choices, but also more responsibilities.

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