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Azure takes Microsoft partners to the cloud

Azure takes Microsoft partners to the cloud

Two local Microsoft partners are trialling the Azure computing platform ahead of its launch as a charged offering in November, with one company saying it may be left behind if it doesn’t actively assess Azure.

Intergen and Provoke have been using the platform to develop or migrate applications, with both recommending other partners do the same.

“As a Microsoft partner, if we don’t actively look at fitting Azure into our offerings today, we could get left behind,” says Provoke chief technology officer Brendon Ford.

He says the company is assesing the migration to Azure of applications it domestically hosts for local customers.

“We’ve migrated two basic applications to the Azure development environment. The major changes are looking at how we can access and store data. That has been the only major challenge.”

Provoke has used Azure for the past three months.

“Our intention is to leverage Azure as a service. We’re looking at deploying it to customers who have elastic needs from a hosting point of view. If a customer is running a campaign that drives a lot of traffic, then Azure has some amazing potential there.

“Some of the customers I am thinking about run marketing campaigns and they may be a small organisation with a large reach.”

Intergen’s Chris Auld is an Azure trainer and evangelist, and says he and many of his colleagues have significant experience in cloud architectures.

“It takes application architectures to build software as a service,” says Auld. “At Intergen, we have the luxury of carrying over that architectural expertise into a platform [Azure] that we can buy on an hour by hour basis.

“It offers the stability to build highly elastic applications and you can scale Azure up and down depending on the size of your business.”

New Zealand is one of 20 countries where Azure’s paid model will be rolled out in November. It is free to trial until then.

At its Worldwide Partner Conference in July, Microsoft said Windows Azure, SQL Azure and .Net services would be offered via a consumption-based pricing model. As such, partners and customers will only pay for the services they use.

In the US, pricing has been set at US12c an hour for computing time and 15 cents per gigabyte a month for storage. SQL Azure was set at $9.99 for up to 1GB for the Web Edition, while the Business Edition will cost $100 for up to 10GB. The .Net services cost 15 cents per 100,000 message operations.

It was also announced at the the conference that resellers in the US would get a 5 percent promotional discount on Windows Azure compute, SQL Azure and .Net services.

Microsoft New Zealand says local partners will get a discount but the amount has yet to be announced.

In addition, incentives will be offered as part of the Microsoft Developer Network, but these also have yet to be revealed. There will also be an “Azure component” after Azure’s launch as part of the Bizspark programme, which provides software and support for software start-ups, says Microsoft’s local director of developer and platform strategy Scott Wyllie.

He says Azure will “evolutionalise” business for partners, adding local partners and customers already have the knowledge to deploy their applications in the cloud because of existing .Net expertise.


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