Microsoft has used the SugarCon 2010 conference in San Francisco to expand on the details of its Azure cloud serviceRob Craft, Microsoft’s senior director of cloud services, told delegates that Microsoft was a long term application company, on the 15th version of some of its applications and the seventh or eight version of Windows, and while it may take time for the company to switch focus it was investing strongly in cloud services.“This is a deep, substantive long term investment from Microsoft,” he said. “Just as we've grown from mainframes we're making the bet on cloud.”Azure is being run from six datacentres in San Antonio, Chicago, Dublin, Amsterdam, Singapore and Hong Kong, although Craft said that other datacentres were also ready to take extra load on the network’s edge.Customers will have a choice as to which datacentres they wish their data to be stored in for compliance purposes and Microsoft will shortly be offering data backup in different world regions to protect against downtime. Data stored on Azure is already backed up three times to ensure security for clients.Microsoft is guaranteeing 99.9 per cent uptime for Azure, with customers getting a 10 per cent rebate if this falls to below 99.0 per cent or 25 per cent if it falls below that figure.The company will also be bringing out a hosted business intelligence suite later this year as an add-on to Azure and plans to add more management features and better data synchronisation.While Microsoft remained committed to selling off the shelf applications cloud services offered the chance for significant cost savings in many areas delegates were told.“If you can commit to a service and time period you can save a good chunk of money over the resource model,” said Dan Moore, senior platform strategy advisor at Microsoft.“We're not trying to make it hard to use cloud, we want to make it easier. Basically we're offering you a 50 per cent discount over buying the applications.”
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