Microsoft held a global webcast today introducing the latest functionality in Windows Azure, including an expansion of the Virtual Machine (VM) functionality that now enables an Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) offering from Microsoft. Avanade has a deep understanding of Windows Azure and we have been working closely with Microsoft before the public release today. These new features (primarily IaaS and Virtual Networking) are game changers for our customers and finally provide a good alternative to Amazon’s Web Services.
When one of our customers, NetHope, wanted to quickly setup a portal, SharePoint was an obvious choice, but Office365 did not support some of their use cases so we looked to Azure’s IaaS capabilities to help them. NetHope’s mission is to act as a catalyst for collaboration, bringing together the knowledge and power of 34 leading international humanitarian organizations so that the best information communication technology and practices can be used to serve people in the developing world. The NetHope Cloud Services Initiative is focused on aggregating information on available cloud services that can help NetHope members achieve their respective missions faster/cheaper with cloud technologies.
Accenture and Avanade worked with NetHope on the pre-release Azure IaaS functionality to develop the NetHope Humanitarian Cloud Portal and utilized an Avanade asset that deploys SharePoint in Azure using PowerShell. As a result, the portal was developed and deployed in 5 short weeks and will be a powerful tool for NGOs to find and collaborate on suitable cloud services with most of the functionality being SharePoint out-of-the-box. NetHope estimates that utilizing cloud technologies, members can save 30-50% in costs, reach their beneficiaries in key markets 30-70% faster and positively impact millions of lives.
We continue to be uniquely positioned with Microsoft and our ability to provide customers with an end-to-end public cloud solution on the Windows Azure platform, breaking down the barriers (security, compliance and compatibility) to public cloud with our Azure Agreement announced back in April.
I firmly believe that PaaS (platform as a service) is the place our customers eventually want to be—and where they will see the most benefit. They will get there, but reality means we take baby steps and that’s ok. With the new functionality Windows Azure provides, it allows for more choice and competition in the market and that is good for everybody. If you have not tried Windows Azure yet, head over to the Windows Azure site and start trying out the new features. You’ll be surprised. And in this instance, that’s a good thing.
Giles Frith, an Accenture Cloud Computing Architect, co-authored this post.