Microsoft has announced a bumper set of updates to its Azure cloud platform. The most significant of these is a new virtual machine role, allowing customers to deploy their own virtual machine images onto Microsoft's servers—and do so whether they run Windows or Linux. The new features are now being previewed.
OpenSUSE 12.1, CentOS 6.2, Ubuntu 12.04, and SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 11 SP1 join Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows Server 2012 Release Candidate in the list of compatible operating systems that can be used in Azure's new infrastructure-as-a-service virtual machine role.
While Azure's platform-as-a-service roles are non-persistent (applications should store data in one of the Azure storage systems instead), the new VMs are traditional, persistent machines. This should make migration from on-premises servers easy to do.