Post by: Larry Grothaus

Big news from the auto world today: your next car might be greener thanks to the cloud. Microsoft and Toyota Motor Corp. have announced that the Windows Azure Platform (Windows Azure and SQL Azure) will be the foundation for a global cloud-computing platform that will deliver combined telecommunications and informatics technologies (or "telematics") in Toyota vehicles. This innovative cloud-based telematics technology will be available with Toyota hybrid vehicles starting in 2012.

The Windows Azure Team Blog has some details on the technology Toyota and Microsoft are building together, but I wanted to focus on what this partnership means for Toyota and for car buyers. 

Technology in the car has become indispensable. You might already take for granted features like telephone connectivity, GPS functions, MPG calculations, and entertainment systems; these and more advanced technologies will continue to merge to give you increasingly sophisticated information in your car. This fusing of such technologies in vehicles-next-gen telematics-is at the heart of the new strategic partnership between Microsoft and Toyota.

The Windows Azure Platform supplies the cloud power that fuels this global effort, integrating green technologies. Toyota recognizes the importance of cloud computing with Windows Azure as a means of providing new levels of service to customers while saving money for Toyota.

In the press conference announcing the partnership, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer welcomed Toyota to the growing list of Windows Azure customers and discussed the benefits. Ballmer noted that Toyota chose the Window Azure Platform to help the company reach new markets and achieve greater scale and business value. Microsoft's cloud platform will allow Toyota to deliver telematics applications and services in the 170 countries where Toyota cars are sold. As Ballmer pointed out, such services were previously limited only to locations where the automaker could build and maintain a datacenter.

On the topic of Toyota's business advantages related to using the Windows Azure Platform, Ballmer explained that Toyota will have the benefit of paying only for the computing power it uses. The cloud allows customers like Toyota to quickly scale usage to support spikes in demand or to expand into new markets quickly.

Microsoft and Toyota represent technology and automotive leadership, respectively, and this strategic partnership brings exciting and environmentally responsible innovation to connected consumers in the car. For more information on the Microsoft and Toyota strategic partnership, see www.microsoft.com/newscenter