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Microsoft won’t let companies run Azure on their own systems

Microsoft Corp. said this week that it has no plans — at least for now — to let businesses run its Windows Azure cloud computing technology on their own premises.

Azure, which is currently available in a beta release, includes the operating system, a database and application development services. There has been some talk about whether Microsoft would let businesses run those services, and potentially the entire Azure infrastructure, on their own IT networks.

But in a blog post and an e-mail statement issued by its public relations firm, Microsoft said that at this point, it plans to offer Azure only as a set of cloud services hosted in its own data centers.

“We don't envision something on our price list called 'Windows Azure' that is sold for on-premises deployment,” Steven Martin, Microsoft's senior director of developer platform product management, wrote in his company blog. The reason, he added, is that Microsoft plans to make “innovations” that it develops for Azure available in products such as Windows Server and its System Center family of management tools.

Azure is an extension to the Windows Server code base for which Microsoft is building “a ton of new IP” to create the cloud-computing infrastructure, Martin said, referring to intellectual property. The new technology will be added to the code base for the server operating system and eventually “will land in our premises technology,” he wrote.

Microsoft introduced Azure last October at its Professional Developers Conference (PDC) in Los Angeles. Some early adopters are already building and running applications on the cloud offering, which earlier this month suffered an overnight outage that Microsoft blamed on a routine operating system upgrade.

The software vendor has yet to disclose an official schedule for making Azure generally available. However, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer told a group of financial analysts last month that the company will have “the ability to go to market” with the cloud computing technology by this year's PDC in November.

Despite this week's pronouncements, Microsoft did give itself an out in case it decides in the future to change its mind about letting companies license Azure for internal uses. In the e-mail, Microsoft said it will “continue to collect feedback from the community and take these learnings into consideration as the Windows Azure product road map is developed and planned.”

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