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Azure in now more “Secure and Compliant” & “Open”

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Microsoft this month announced two new developments in regard to ensuring users can build “secure and compliant applications” on Windows Azure, according to Microsoft’s Steven Martin.
In his latest blog post, Martin says Windows Azure is now in compliance with the “Payment Card Industry (PCI) Data Security Standards (DSS)” via an independent Qualified Security Assessor (QSA). Martin notes this designation represents the “global standard” that all organizations must abide by to “accept payment cards, and to store, process, and/or transmit cardholder data.”
In this same post, Martin also announced Windows Azure has obtained ISO compliance for SQL Database, Active Directory, Traffic Manager, Web Sites, BizTalk Services, Media Services, Mobile Services, Service Bus, Multi-Factor Authentication, and HDInsight. These features augment Windows Azure’s already existing ISO compliance for Windows Azure Cloud Services, Storage, Virtual Machines and Virtual Networks.

In a nod to fostering the open source community, Microsoft’s Bill Laing, Corporate Vice President, Cloud & Enterprise, announced in his blog this week that Microsoft will join the Open Compute Project (OCP) (http://www.opencompute.org/) – a group formed by some Facebook veterans who are working on building the “most efficient computing infrastructure possible,” according to the OCP website.
Laing says Microsoft will give the OCP the company’s “cloud server specification: the designs for the most advanced server hardware in Microsoft datacenters delivering global cloud services like Windows Azure, Office 365, Bing and others.” Laing also notes that Microsoft’s goal in joining the OCP is to help “foster more efficient datacenters and the adoption of cloud computing.”

In regard to maximizing Windows Azure for your workloads, former Microsoft employee, Scott Hanselman, blogs some substantive tips to help users get started using Windows Azure for their app dev projects.
Hanselman, for example, brings a nice touch to explaining the core difference between developing in PaaS and IaaS: “platform as a service is like having your hotel room fixed up daily, while VMs is more like managing a house yourself.” Hanselman also notes that Windows Azure Web Sites has recently added a service called Web Jobs that enable a user to do “regular jobs and batch work in the background.”

In one other interesting item, the UK’s technology news portal ,V3.co.uk, reports that Microsoft is getting ready to lower its prices for data storage in a move to potentially “undercut” AWS’s prices for this same function. Windows Azure customers, according to V3, can expect to be charged lower rates by this March for “Block Blobs Storage and Disks/Page Blobs Storage.”

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