Citing growing demand for Microsoft's cloud services (more than 8,000 customers sign up for its Azure cloud every week), Phil Sorgen, the company's corporate vice president for Worldwide Partner Channel, announced in a blog post that the company will bring two new Azure regions online in Virginia (US East 2) and Iowa (US Central). The additional regions will help the company respond to what it says is a need to double capacity every six to nine months.
There are currently four U.S. Azure regions -- US East in Virginia, US West in California, US North Central in Illinois and US South Central in Texas -- one in Brazil, two in Europe and four in Asia Pacific. US East 2 would be a second region in Virginia, where the company kicked off a new data center construction project last month.
In advance of its Worldwide Partner Conference next week in Washington, D.C., Microsoft announced a handful of new technologies, services and features for Azure, which Sorgen also detailed in his post.
Growing the Azure cloud
Expanding its partnership with Equinix, Microsoft will add six worldwide locations for ExpressRoute, the service that provides customers with private links to Azure from colocation data centers to circumvent the public Internet for higher security and better performance.
Microsoft will also bring new Infrastructure-as-a-Service functionality to its recently launched Azure Preview Portal, which brings cross-platform cloud technologies, tools and services together in a single environment. Adding the IaaS capabilities will let users manage virtual machines, as well as have single-click SharePoint deployment for the management of multiple virtual machines within the portal.
The company is also planning to preview Azure Event Hubs, an event broker service that allows processing and data analytics from a number of cloud-connected smart devices.
Microsoft said it will expand the preview of the Azure Government cloud and complement it with a new Dynamics CRM Online U.S. cloud offering. The Azure machine learning service announced last month, which helps build predictive analytics into applications, will be also be available for preview.
Hybrid cloud storage arrays
The company also announced the Azure StorSimple 8000 series hybrid storage arrays with new Azure-based capabilities to enable new use cases and centralize data management. The array series seeks to capture rising enterprise demand for hybrid infrastructure solutions.
The new 8000 StorSimple series features expanded access to enterprise data by cloud-resident applications and a single, consolidated management plane. Not limited to just hard drives and SSDs the 8100 and 8600 arrays use Azure cloud storage as a hybrid cloud tier for automatic capacity expansion and off-site data protection.
To go with the new arrays, there is the Microsoft Azure StorSimple Virtual Appliance, which is an implementation of StorSimple technology running as an Azure virtual machine in the cloud.
A productivity and platform company
In a call-to-action letter to all Microsoft employees this week CEO Satya Nadella said Microsoft's focus for fiscal 2015 (which the company recently entered) will be on enabling a mobile-first and cloud-first world with core as a productivity and a platform company.