Microsoft's Azure Hits 10K Customer Mark

Microsoft's Azure cloud services have only been available commercially for four months but they have already attracted more early customers than at least one analyst expected.

Microsoft's Azure just came out of beta testing a few months ago, but the company has already signed up 10,000 paying customers to run their applications in the company's Azure cloud, a company executive said.

Azure, Microsoft's (NASDAQ: MSFT) fledgling cloud computing platform was free to customers during months of beta testing. However, that ended on Feb. 1 when vendors offering Azure-based services could begin charging for them and Microsoft started billing the vendors for providing Azure's application and service infrastructure.

Doug Hauger, general manager of Windows Azure, discussed Microsoft's cloud strategy during his presentation to stock analysts and investors attending Cowen and Company's Technology, Media and Telecom Conference in New York, Thursday.

While his presentation may have been of interest to conference attendees watching to see if Azure will keep building momentum in the marketplace, it's also likely a figure that's significant to developers and IT decision makers as they evaluate Azure's viability as an online services platform.

For instance, Microsoft believes its programming model for Azure helps set it apart from competitors.

Visual Studio and the .NET Framework are supported, which may be a large attraction to developers that already have skill sets based on working with Microsoft tools.

"We have a developer ecosystem from a .NET perspective that is about six to seven million .NET developers out there today. All of those skills are directly transferable, and apply to the Windows Azure platform," Hauger said.

Still, Microsoft took a pragmatic approach by supporting other development tools such as Java, PHP, Python and MySQL.

"We don't want to make everybody go do .NET. We want them to be able to bring their Java apps and actually run them on the platform and run them better than they can run them elsewhere," he added.

One technology analyst expressed mild surprise at the news that Azure has picked up so many customers in such a short time.

"Azure is very young," Rob Enderle, principal analyst for the Enderle Group told Microsoft, after all, came late to the cloud platform arena, unlike seemingly unlikely competitors like Amazon with its Elastic Compute Cloud.

"To have 10,000 customers at this stage would be very would expect hundreds instead of thousands," Enderle added. "Their plan seems pretty well cooked at this point."

Stuart J. Johnston is a contributing writer at, the news service of, the network for technology professionals.

Tags: cloud computing, Microsoft, Azure, cloud service, cloud management

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