Microsoft cloud computing platform Azure has found support among software giants like Dell, Fujitsu and Hewlett-Packard who are planning to embrace Azure for their data center products.

The three software giants are the first batch to get a chance to use and sell hosted clouds running Microsoft's Azure outside its Redmond data center. Prior to this, Microsoft had earlier restrained Azure for outsiders.

The cloud computing platform enables users to run applications on machines in an internet accessible data center. Azure acts as an operating system that serves as the development, a
service hosting and service management environment. Consumers and developers can host and manage web applications on the internet through Microsoft data centers.

Cloud computing, built on the concept of virtualization, allows one physical server computer act as several. Companies opting for cloud computing platform have the biggest advantage where consumers can cut costs for hardware, energy use and reduce the labor in looking after the data centers as data can be accessed remotely.

With Google emphasizing on similar platform and Amazon already running its Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer was bullish about Microsoft's cloud computing platform. There are different parts of the cloud market. We can act like they are one thing, but they are not. There is the app infrastructure in the cloud, hardware infrastructure and applications. At the applications layer is primarily Google, and we are just beating these guys almost every time.

Pointing out at Amazon's not for private cloud computing, Ballmer says:If you are really trying to design new applications for the cloud infrastructure, Amazon doesn’t do it. Amazon has no notion of a private cloud effectively. That really hurts because people aren’t prepared to say I’m going to put my mission critical apps in cloud today. When you ask a federal customer and you’ve got to run the Census system on the Amazon infrastructure, that’s just not going to happen.

Security is the major concern when it comes to critical data being stored in cloud computing platform. But with the likes of Dell, HP and Fujitsu opting for Microsoft cloud computing platform, other consumers may also go for Azure Platform Appliance once they are assured of no security compliance in the cloud platform offered by Microsoft.

Microsoft's server and tools business president Bob Muglia said We think this is the future. Muglia expects large businesses that operate their own data centers switching to Azure that
would help them when it comes to convenience and efficiency.

According to Gartner Inc., global revenue generating from cloud services is predicted to grow 16.6% to $68.3 billion this year and more than double to $148.8 billion by 2014, said a report in Wall Street Journal.

Another big name to adopt Azure would be eBay Inc., which is planning to use the appliance for internal operations. The company has signed up as a beta partner for Azure appliance.
James Barrese, an eBay technology executive said, We can get a lot of agility and faster time to market with cloud computing.

And Fujitsu in Japan is planning to train more than 5,000 engineers by 2010 to run Azure appliances. Kazuo Ishida of Fujitsu's ICT Services Business is hoping to provide customers with a new array of possibilities in cloud computing. Fujitsu plans to generate 1.5 trillion yen ($17 billion) in revenue from its global cloud computing business by March 2016, says an AFP report.

Microsoft vice president Robert Wahbe said, Using it, service providers, governments and large enterprises who would consider buying, say, 1000 servers at a time, will be able to get the control they need (with Azure).