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Microsoft South Africa has announced the local market availability of Windows Azure and the preview of new Windows Azure services, along with several updates to existing services.

In what is being viewed as the largest release in Windows Azure history, Microsoft South Africa has announced both the local market availability of Windows Azure and the preview of new Windows Azure services, along with several updates to existing services, several of which are currently available.

This is a huge announcement as far as developers and web developers are concerned as Windows Azure provides an open and easy to use set of services to build and run any application in the cloud, says Stephen Cakebread Azure Marketing Manager at Microsoft SA.

‚The platforms offers customers the choice and flexibility to move existing applications or develop new ones using the language and platform of their choice and customers can feel safe in knowing they’re getting the best of cloud computing in that they are now able to leverage a flexible, reliable platform in their own data centre, Microsoft’s Secure globally distributed datacenters or a hybrid.‚

Cakebread says new services that form part of this announcement include:

· Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) capabilities, including Windows Azure Virtual Machines for Windows and Linux-based applications, as well as the Windows Azure Virtual Network to securely link Windows Azure with on-premises networks.

· Windows Azure Web Sites which enable developers to quickly and easily deploy web site with support for multiple frameworks and popular open source applications.

· An integrated Windows Azure Preview Portal.

And updates to existing services include:

· Interoperability updates including new libraries for Java and Python.

· Improved developer productivity with updates to the Windows Azure SDK and support for Visual Studio Team Foundation Services.

· Improved application services, including updates to Windows Azure Active Directory, the Content Delivery Network (CND), distributed caching and support for media services.

· Windows Azure SQL Reporting for secure, flexible and cost effective cloud-based reporting.

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