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Microsoft officials emphasized the company's commitment to both public and private cloud computing on the second day of its Worldwide Partner Conference in Los Angeles, but also moved to reassure partners and customers that they will be able to adopt the cloud on their own terms.
In tune with that message, Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) executives Tuesday gave a brief look at the next release of what's been codenamed Windows Server 8, which will underpin continuing on-premise systems as well as private cloud environments. The company announced the community technology preview (CTP) of SQL Server "Denali," and said they will begin a new beta of System Center 2012 next week.
"Cloud computing is as big a transformation as we have ever seen and, together with our partners, Microsoft will help customers through the shift," Satya Nadella, president of Microsoft's Server and Tools Business, said in a statement.
The CTP of Denali will enable developers to try out new visual data exploration features such as "Project Crescent" and new developer tools codenamed "Juneau," the statement added.
During the opening day keynote on Monday, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer told the 15,000 partners attending the conference that more than 50,000 organizations have signed up for a trial of Microsoft's Office 365 online applications suite since it shipped two weeks ago.
Also on Tuesday, Kirill Tatarinov, president of Microsoft Business Solutions, told partners that the company will ship the next update to Dynamics CRM Online in the fourth quarter of this year, enabling them to provide Microsoft Office 365 to enterprise customers of Dynamics CRM Online.
Among the new features coming in that update will be enhanced social collaboration capabilities, according to a Microsoft statement. The company also plans to add new RapidStart services for Microsoft Dynamics ERP that are targeted to let partners reduce implementation time and focus more on delivering value-added services.
"Partners are critical to delivering the best cloud experience for customers and, by creating a path to the cloud for partners with the right products and support, we're taking steps to ensure our partners make the transition with us," Tatarinov said.