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Microsoft Renames Cloud Offering “Microsoft Azure” Reflecting Company’s Cloud Priority and big announcement of Microsoft Enterprise Mobility Suite (EMS)

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Microsoft last week took the seemingly small step of renaming Windows Azure – its core cloud platform – to Microsoft Azure. As Microsoft’s Steve Martin notes in his blog, the name change is really about the next milestone in Microsoft’s effort to place the cloud at the forefront of the company’s suite of services. “This change reflects Microsoft’s strategy and focus on Azure as the public cloud platform for customers as well as for our own services Office 365, Dynamics CRM, Bing, OneDrive, Skype, and Xbox Live,” says Martin.

Just prior to Steve Martin’s blog post about the Microsoft Azure name change, he announced that Oracle Database, Oracle WebLogic Server and Java are now “generally available with license-included virtual machine images.” Martin, who says these images can be found in the Windows Azure Image Gallery, notes that everyone from Oracle administrators to Java developers can have “the confidence that your Oracle software on [Microsoft] Azure will be fully supported by Oracle.”

Microsoft is embracing the new “mobile-first cloud-first” world. The cloud without mobile is mostly latent potential. CEO Satya spoke about the wide-ranging work Microsoft is doing to deliver a cloud for everyone and every device including big announcements about the availability of Office on the iPad, as well as the release of what we call the Microsoft Enterprise Mobility Suite.

Microsoft also unveiled in preview stage a new Azure service called Windows Azure ExpressRoute, designed to give users a way “to create private connections between Azure datacenters and infrastructure that’s on your premises or in a colocation environment.” According to Microsoft, Azure users can deploy ExpressRoute to transfer data between on-premises and Azure connections with “higher security, faster speeds and lower latencies” compared with public Internet connections.

Microsoft is getting ready to release private previews of its cloud offering for the U.S. Government, according to Government Computing News (GCN). While Microsoft Azure won FedRAMP cloud-security certification last fall for its commercial cloud offering, the company now is ready to leverage that achievement to build an Azure Government-only cloud offering. Microsoft plans to release its government-only version of Azure later this year. In addition, GCN reports that Microsoft Azure and all of its “services will be hosted in the continental U.S. and managed by U.S. personnel with government-adjudicated background investigations.” Microsoft believes it will be in a good position to compete for government business because it’s the only cloud platform that features both IaaS, PaaS and a hybrid option. GCN notes, however, that many potential federal government customers likely will use Azure initially for web hosting.

In a related story about hybrid cloud, the Australian health care system is deploying the Azure hybrid offering with a private vendor to consolidate patient data across more than 200 of the country’s dental clinics. The solution, according to Australia’s ARN, aims to enable Dental Corporation to use integrate Azure hybrid environments in 220 dental practices for real-time data sharing and data storage efficiencies. The hybrid solution also will enable each practice to provide “proactive” rather than reactive services for patients. ARN reports that Dental Corporation developed “a data-extraction program coded in .NET allowing the appliance to identify activity on the practice network, replicate changes, and forward them via a URL to a service bus hosted in the cloud with Windows Azure.” Dental Corporation’s Kellie King said their overall goal using Microsoft Azure is to develop a “flexible integration layer that can be seamlessly deployed in any practice.”

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