KEMP Technologies is claiming a first for the Microsoft (MSFT) Windows Azure platform. The load balancer vendor is introducing Virtual Loadmaster (VLM) for Windows Azure, which KEMP noted is an application delivery controller that meets "the unique architectural challenges of Azure" while also adding application-layer traffic management capabilities.

Basically, what KEMP is doing is adding Layer-7 load balancing to Azure IaaS to enable high availability, persistence, health checking and scalability to production applications that run in the Azure cloud.

"As Microsoft continues to announce more enterprise services for Azure, application-aware load balancing within Azure will become increasingly vital for productivity in the cloud. We are proud to partner with Microsoft to provide the first Layer 7 load balancer to deliver high performance application availability to Azure users," said Peter Melerud, executive vice president of Product Management at KEMP, in a prepared statement.

According to KEMP, VLM provides Layer-7 load balancing that exceeds the load balancing native to Azure, but it's still simple to provision within Microsoft's cloud platform using the Azure management portal. It runs on Azure, making it a cloud-based load balancer, instead of just directing traffic to the Azure network.

What will this mean for partners? Well, for managed services providers (MSPs) and VARs, there could be opportunities. KEMP already has a network of partners it works with to provide load balancers to end customers, and there doesn't seem to be any reason to believe partners will be cut out of this new product offering.

Actually, there could be ample opportunities should KEMP make it possible for MSPs and VARs already providing Azure-based services to customers. Load balancing to ensure higher performance and lower latency could be a nice value-add that complements their existing cloud solutions. Or perhaps there is an opportunity to provide load balancing-as-a-service to customers. LBaaS, anyone?