Windows Azure Gains Traction in the Enterprise

Though late to the game, Microsoft's cloud has attracted the enterprise computing workloads of several of the top companies in the U.S.

cloud management

Windows Azure, Microsoft's cloud computing platform, is growing at a brisk pace and notching some crucial customer wins.

Several of the biggest U.S. companies have adopted Azure, claims Microsoft. In a blog post, Windows Azure general manager Steven Martin wrote, "In just a year, we have grown to over 200 services for our platform, more than doubled our customer base (now at 250,000) and are seeing an average of 1,000 new customers per day."

"In fact, more than 50 percent of the Fortune 500 are using Windows Azure already," added Martin.

Microsoft first floated Windows Azure in 2008 after Amazon and Google had begun to cement their positions as cloud computing innovators and began offering the IT industry alternatives to on-premise software. As part of its "software plus services" vision, Windows Azure was pitched as a developer-friendly way for Windows coders to dive into the realm of cloud-based software.

Microsoft's customer adoption stats indicate that its efforts to bulk up Windows Azure—particularly in the midst of a scorching enterprise mobile market—are paying off. Last week, the company released Azure updates that facilitate mobile back-end development, including support for custom APIs, Git source control and Node.js Node Packaged Modules (NPM) support.

Scott Guthrie, corporate vice president for Microsoft Server and Tools, stated in a June 14 blog post, "Windows Azure Mobile Services provides the ability to easily stand up a mobile backend that can be used to support your Windows 8, Windows Phone, iOS, Android and HTML5 client applications."

In a bid to lure enterprises and cloud application developers to its cloud, Microsoft finally flipped the switch on its infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) play, Windows Azure Infrastructure Services, on April 16. While announcing its general availability, Guthrie stated, "This release is now live in production, backed by an enterprise SLA [service-level agreement], supported by Microsoft Support, and is ready to use for production apps."

A year ago, Microsoft added support for some major open-source platforms and frameworks. On June 6, 2012, the company announced support for Linux-based workloads courtesy of Windows Azure virtual machines. Windows Azure Websites, Microsoft's rapid Website development and deployment offering, gained support for the MongoDB, Solr and CouchDb data services.

Today, those enhancements are not only strengthening Microsoft's enterprise cloud credentials, they're contributing to some massive infrastructure expansion.

"The growth doesn't stop with customer volume—we continue to double compute and storage capacity every six to nine months and are simultaneously expanding into Japan, Australia and China (operated by 21Vianet)," Martin wrote.

At present, Windows Azure is home to more than 4 trillion objects and handles an average of 270,000 requests per second. During peak periods, "demand can grow to a staggering 880,000 requests per second," added Martin.

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the network of...