In a blog post, cloud and enterprise executive VP Satya Nadella said Microsoft is prepared to lead the enterprise cloud charge, which he characterized as a potential $2 trillion market, because of three strengths: a strong SaaS portfolio that includes Office 365, Bing, Xbox Live and more than 200 others; a massive public cloud in Windows Azure; and a viable hybrid model that provides businesses the tools and infrastructure to explore the cloud while still keeping data secure and extending the use of existing hardware. He said Microsoft is the only cloud provider that can boast these assets and that its new wave of products represent significant advancements across all areas.
Among the new announcements, the Azure discounts are sure to generate interest. They will be available to Enterprise Agreement customers regardless of upfront commitments, free from overuse penalties, and with an option for annual payments. Microsoft will announce more information, including how large the discounts will be, on Nov. 1.
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Also announced were Windows Server 2012 R2 and System Center 2012 R2, both of which will be available alongside Windows 8.1 on Oct. 18. Windows Server 2012 R2 has been available as a preview for several months and offers new tools and features designed to help businesses create and manage hybrid clouds. Microsoft announced one new feature Monday for Windows Server 2012 R2: a remote desktop app for Windows, Windows RT, iOS, OS X and Android.
Microsoft also announced a new Azure cloud service dedicated to government customers. The company said in a statement that its government-only cloud will host data, applications and infrastructure from within the continental U.S. and that data centers will be managed only by U.S. staff. Microsoft pointed out that its public cloud is to the first to be granted a Provisional Authority to Operate from the FedRAMP Joint Authorization Board.
Other announcements ranged from new versions of Microsoft's developer tools, VisualStudio2013 and .Net 4.5.1; to the latest release of Windows Intune, the company's management tool for BYOD; to Dynamics CRM Online Fall 2013. Microsoft also announced a second preview of SQL Server 2014 that it claims offers 10 to 30 times better performance as well as backup and disaster recovery through Azure.