Microsoft won't let companies host Azure on premise

Microsoft is restricting the Azure platform to its datacenters, shooting down rumors that it might let companies host Azure services on their own networks

Microsoft has no plans to let businesses license and host its Windows Azure cloud-computing infrastructure on their own premises, the company said this week.

The Azure cloud-computing infrastructure consists of several services, including database, OS and application-development services, that run in the cloud. There was some talk that Microsoft would let businesses take these services, or potentially the entire Azure infrastructure, and host them on their own IT networks.

[ Related: "Microsoft opens Azure to PHP developers" and "Microsoft refreshes Azure tools." ]

However, Microsoft said this week, both in an e-mail through its public-relations firm and in a company blog posting, that it plans at this point only to let businesses use Azure running on Microsoft's own datacenters.

"We don't envision something on our price list called 'Windows Azure' that is sold for on-premises deployment," according to a blog post attributed to Steven Martin, a Microsoft senior director. The reason for this decision is that Microsoft plans to make what it calls "innovations" it develops for Azure available through its Windows Server and System Center products, he wrote.

Windows 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, according to the blog post. That intellectual property is being shared with the Windows Server code base, and eventually "will land in our premises technology, including Windows Server and System Center," Martin wrote.

Azure, introduced last October at the Microsoft Professional Developers Conference in Los Angeles, is Microsoft's cloud computing infrastructure on which companies can develop and host applications. It is currently only available in a test release, which Microsoft calls a Community Technology Preview. Some early adopters are already building and running applications on Azure, which suffered an outage recently that Microsoft blamed on a routine OS upgrade.

Microsoft has not officially given a firm date for when Azure will be generally available. However, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer told a group of financial analysts last month that the company plans to make the infrastructure generally available by November at this year's PDC.

All of that said, Microsoft did give itself an out in case it decides in the future to change its mind on letting companies license Azure. In an e-mail, Microsoft said it will "continue to collect feedback from the community and take these learnings into consideration as the Windows Azure product roadmap is developed and planned," so the company has room to revise its position on allowing the on-premise hosting of Azure in the future.

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