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Tech-Ed: Looking for Azure? It's Everywhere

Pretty much everybody attending Tech-Ed this week was expecting Microsoft to drape the show in Azure and heavily tout its cloud platform. That didn't happen -- at least not the way most observers expected that it would.

Windows Phone 7 and Visual Studio got most of the stage time at this morning's keynote, and Azure didn't get anything like a starring role. But that's not to say that the nascent platform was absent. In fact, it was everywhere -- but always as a component of something else.

A demo during this morning's keynote involving the forthcoming System Center 2012, due in the second half of this year, showed how IT pros can use the suite to manage both public and private clouds and move applications from one cloud to the other. That capability includes managing Azure components, and System Center 2012 gives users a single, consolidated view for managing all cloud elements. It's the "single pane of glass," as Microsoft folks like to say.

"We saw cloud all morning [at the Tech-Ed keynote] if you think about it in that lens," said Ryan O'Hara, senior director of the Management and Security Division at Microsoft, in an interview. "Once we had control of those [cloud] resources, it became management as usual. Here's a familiar context, but you have completely unfamiliar capabilities."

Microsoft also talked today about an Azure toolkit for Windows Phone 7 and about cloud application development using Visual Studio and Azure. O'Hara says that Azure won't necessarily garner a lot of attention by itself anymore, but it'll be a key component of just about everything Microsoft does for the enterprise.

"We went through a definitional phase as an industry, and now we are in an embrace or integration phase where the cloud style of computing is now intertwined with our application development experiences, our virtualization experiences, our application management experiences, and even our productivity experiences," O'Hara said.

In other words, Azure might not make headlines anymore, but it'll be part of just about every story Microsoft tells. Of course, not everything with Azure is going smoothly. Many observers expected Microsoft to discuss at Tech-Ed long-awaited and still forthcoming Azure appliances, but company officials have not said a word about them thus far. Still, although it's hard to notice Azure here at Tech-Ed, it's even harder to escape it.

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Posted by Lee Pender on May 16, 2011 at 11:57 AM


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