IT giant's Worldwide Partner Conference dominated by talk of new cloud initiatives

Microsoft ramps up cloud push

Cloud computing was the overwhelming theme running through keynote speeches at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference in Washington DC today.

It’s been a hot topic in the IT industry for a few years now, with a significant amount of speculation as to how exactly the concept – which put simply is utilising the web as a storage and computational hub – will change the market, and the world.

Significant funding from the giants of the technology industry have been flowing the cloud’s way for some time, but corporate vice president of Microsoft worldwide partner group Jon Roskill said: "this is the year research and development comes to fruition."

14,000 attendees from Microsoft’s 640,000 strong community of resellers and retailers (representing 130 countries) were told they had a critical role to play in the industry’s shift to the cloud. CEO Steve Ballmer said in his speech:

"We’ve been shouting about the cloud here at WPC now for four years, and it’s exciting for me to kick off WPC 2010 in the year that the opportunity and the transition to the cloud for enterprise, business and customers and for partners around the world is absolutely clear.

“We are at an inflection point in technology history. For customers, cloud computing creates tremendous value, which translates to massive opportunity for Microsoft and its partners. As in past technology transitions, Microsoft will help partners embrace the industry’s transformation to realize their opportunity and continue to be economic drivers for their local community.”

The firm announced the new Windows Azure platform appliance, which combines Windows Azure and Microsoft SQL Azure with Microsoft-specified hardware, which is designed to ‘enable on-demand IT capacity and faster delivery of new applications.’

Further details were also revealed regarding the project codenamed ‘Dallas’ – which is an information service powered by the Windows Azure platform, providing developers with access to third-party data and web services.

Meanwhile, the beta release of Windows 7 Service Pack 1 and Windows Server 2008 R2 Service Pack 1 were also announced during Corporate vice president and chief financial officer for Windows Tami Reller’s presentation.

On Wednesday, guest speaker former US president Bill Clinton will take the stage with a speech entitled ‘Embracing our Common Humanity’.

Microsoft has uploaded the keynote speaches on it site, which can be accessed here.

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