Last month the cloud blogosphere was abuzz with talk of expected IaaS developments from both Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) and Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT). As expected, Redmond announced new IaaS capabilities and other updates at its Meet Windows Azure event this past week.

The updates have been described as bold moves aimed at an IaaS provider and market leader we all know: Amazon Web Services. They're sensible moves as well—while PaaS supports Microsoft’s established relationship with developers, at present IaaS is where the money is in the cloud, and with enhanced hybrid cloud capability and open source software support—including Linux—Microsoft has added some appealing tools to help strengthen its market share.

The IaaS capabilities also are a sign of how Microsoft has come from its monopolist mindset in pursuing the cloud market: Once upon a time Linux was an open source threat to its Windows OS hegemony. Along with the IaaS capabilities and other updates, Microsoft in a company blog announced Azure will permit users to run SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 11 SP2, OpenSUSE 12.1, CentOS 6.2, Ubuntu 12.04, Windows Server 2008 R2 and the Windows Server 2012 Release Candidate.

In addition to the blog, Microsoft Corporate Vice President Scott Guthrie gave the keynote presentation at the Meet Windows Azure event. Highlights of the service upgrades include:

  • Windows Azure Virtual Machines: Virtual Machines will give customers application mobility, allowing them to migrate virtual hard disks (VHDs) back and forth between on-premises and the cloud, such as Microsoft SQL Server or Microsoft SharePoint, or even customized Windows Server or Linux images. VHD is in use by hundreds of vendors and is a freely available specification covered under the Microsoft Open Specification Promise.

  • Windows Azure Virtual Network: This allows customers to deploy and manage virtual private networks (VPNs) in Windows Azure as well as securely extend on-premises networks into the cloud, providing control over network topology, including configuration of IP addresses, routing tables and security policies. Virtual Network uses the industry-standard IP SEC protocol to provide a secure connection between customer VPNs and Windows Azure.

  • Windows Azure Web Sites: Customers can build web sites and applications with this elastic solution supporting .NET, Node.js, and PHP with common deployment techniques such as Git and FTP. Windows Azure Web Sites allow easy deployment of open source applications including WordPress, Joomla!, DotNetNuke, Umbraco, Drupal and others.

  • New tools, language support, and SDK: Windows Azure SDK June 2012 will include new developer capabilities for writing code against new service improvements along with updated support for Java, PHP and .NET, and the addition of Python as a language on Windows Azure. Additionally, the SDK now has 100 percent command line support for both Windows and Mac.

  • Expanded Geography: Windows Azure will be available to customers in 48 new countries, including Russia, South Korea, Taiwan, Turkey, Egypt, South Africa and Ukraine. Windows Azure after this rollout will be available in 89 countries and in 19 local currencies.

Talkin’ Cloud readers can visit the Windows Azure webpage to read up on its new capabilities. In addition, readers can click here for the Microsoft partner program overview.