O'Brien says infrastructure as a service is already becoming a commodity offering, and he expects Amazon, VMware, and other cloud services vendors to increasingly move into platforms as a service.
In November, Microsoft introduced an Azure-based service code-named Dallas where customers can access data sets and other content offered by NASA, the World Health Organization, and other partners.
Microsoft wants to makes it easier for customers to deploy and manage applications that span both corporate data centers and Azure in so-called hybrid clouds. A major area of emphasis going forward will be on "server-service cohesion," says O'Brien.
Along those lines, Microsoft plans to introduce a set of technologies called AppFabric, in beta testing now, that will let developers deploy and manage applications that span both on-premises Windows servers and its Azure cloud. Microsoft will also support Windows Server virtual machines in Azure, making it easier for IT departments to move virtualized workloads into Azure. And a VPN capability, code-named Sydney, will support "cloud bursting" between corporate data centers and Azure when on-demand servers are needed for temporary projects, traffic spikes or failover.
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