Microsoft offers Azure discounts in renewed cloud push

The company announced several new server offerings for cloud computing

Microsoft will offer discounts on its Azure cloud service next month as part of a cloud computing push that also includes new releases of its Windows Server and Systems Center software.

Customers on Enterprise Agreement licenses will be eligible for the Azure discounts starting Nov. 1, with no up-front commitments or overuse penalties, Microsoft said. It's targeting companies that want to build hybrid clouds that span on-premise and hosted services. It didn't say how deep the discounts will be.

Microsoft also announced that on Oct. 18 it will release updates to two of its main server products, Windows Server 2012 R2 and System Center 2012 R2. They're geared toward "high-scale virtualization," high-performance storage and software-defined networking.

In a blog post, Satya Nadella, the executive in charge of Microsoft's cloud and enterprise products, sought to preempt questions about Microsoft's capabilities in the cloud.

"[A]s people look at our commercial business in this age of cloud computing, big data and the consumerization of IT, people are asking questions about our future strength in the enterprise," Nadella wrote. "Will Microsoft continue to be at the core of business computing in, say, 10 years?"

His answer, not surprisingly, is that it will be, thanks to "best in class" SaaS (software-as-a-service) applications, its massive public cloud and "true hybrid capabilities."

Microsoft is also targeting the U.S. government with the Windows Azure US Government Cloud. "This will offer U.S. government customers a dedicated community cloud for data, applications and infrastructure, hosted in the continental U.S. and managed by U.S. personnel," the company said.

The company announced last week that Azure had achieved security certification under the government's Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program, known as FedRAMP.

James Niccolai covers data centers and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow James on Twitter at @jniccolai. James's e-mail address is james_niccolai@idg.com

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