When we think about cryptographic keys, we tend to think about closely guarded secrets. Keys are the only thing that keeps the attacker away from your encrypted data. Some keys are usually treated with the appropriate level of respect. Security professionals in the payments industry, or those that have deployed a PKI, know all too well about the importance... 

Richard Moulds

Microsoft Steps Up To The Ring With Windows Azure

Microsoft Steps Up to the Ring with Windows Azure in Direct Competition with Amazon Web Service

The land of Infrastructure -as-a-service (IaaS) shook a little bit more this week as another titan rose in competition for the enterprise’s bustling pot of gold. Microsoft has finally delivered their promised revamp on the Windows Azure services which also serves as a direct reply to the already in-motion Amazon Web Service (AWS).

AWS, with its long head start dominates the IaaS market with an estimated $1.8 billion in revenues for cloud services alone in 2012. It is projected to skyrocket to $20 billion by 2020 according to one analyst firm. But the software giant will not be undone; it unshackled Azure from its PaaS origins and has given it full IaaS capabilities with virtual machines and something that not all players in the market offers –support for Linux. The Linux market is important if Azure hopes to stand a chance against the long established AWS.

Microsoft has stepped out of its comfort zone in order to widen Azure’s mobile platform support and entice developers and enterprises. It now supports Android and iOS aside from the in-house Windows and Windows Mobile OS. They also made it easier to manage and deploy Hadoop clusters as well as integrate mobile applications into the cloud. Plus full HTML5 support and allowed Cordova/PhoneGap apps to use Azure for authentication and storage.

Amazon is a known price cutter as evidenced earlier this month when it announced price cuts just a few hours after Google’s announcement to reduce pricing on their Compute Engine. Microsoft is not far behind as showed by Azure’s new pricing schemes. There is a 21% cut on Windows Azure Virtual Machines and a 33% cut on solutions that use Windows Azure Cloud Services for deployment.

Windows Azure is now a comprehensive hybrid cloud solution which expands its built-in gallery of virtual machine images (VMI) with new templates for Windows Server Images. And with the Windows Azure Management Portal, an administrator can create an enterprise’s virtual infrastructure from a single web-based portal.

By Abdul Salam

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