Microsoft Upgrades Azure, Pushes Cloud Computing The Microsoft Azure platform, Microsoft’s cloud solution, today announced a number of upgrades to its architecture. Microsoft explained that it had been paying attention to developer feedback up to this point, and had built a number of the requested features and changes into Azure.

Microsoft’s vision for the cloud is that it will be a broad set of platform services, taking existing applications “forward into the future,” and to allow developers to build applications directly for the cloud. Microsoft even mentioned building business critical applications for the cloud specifically, showing strong confidence in the reliability of cloud computing moving forward.

Developers had been specifically asking for the ability to use a wider set of runtimes with Azure, and Microsoft responded today by stating that they are opening Azure to a number of new runtimes, including Python. Microsoft also said that it will be allowing people to develop using “low-level C” in the cloud. (“Did you know that C++ programmers are the best developers? Just ask them”, Microsoft joked, to surprising applause).

Azure it seems is becoming language agnostic it seems, in regards to apps and services, provided those are running on a framework that is supported by Windows Server.

In the coming year, Microsoft will be launching “Project Sydney.” Project Sydney works inside your current data center to link it deeply to the cloud, making the use of both seamless.

This fits well with the examples given during the first #PDC09 keynote, with Kelley Blue Book singing the praises of Azure. Kelley Blue Book (KBB) has up to this point been running two data centers, with one the supposed fail safe. However, with uneven demand, they have to keep the second data center online nearly all the time, even with it only being needed a few hours weekly. They will be moving to Azure to pick up the slack, and closing the second data center.

Instead of having a six-week turnaround on new hardware, KBB can boost capacity on the cloud in around six minutes. When moving from the one data center to the cloud, they only had to adapt about 1% of their code base for the transition.

Azure will also be bringing its European and Asian data centers online in 2010, giving the cloud platform greater speed and capability in 2010.

Finally, if you recall the great data disaster around the T-Mobile sidekick, Microsoft will be double backing up data in separate centers at each global region.

If companies will be as comfortable as Microsoft wants them to be with running vital applications in the cloud is still yet to be seen, but Microsoft is pushing ahead on the cloud at full tilt. Its bets have been placed.

If you wanted to know what the cloud looks like in person, this is a piece of Azure, enjoy:

 Microsoft Upgrades Azure, Pushes Cloud Computing