Posted by Teresa Carlson 
Vice President, Microsoft Federal

When it comes to cloud computing, federal customers have a lot to consider and new business options to explore nearly every day.  And while “the cloud” is still in its infancy, today, I’m excited to extend our cloud announcements coming out of Microsoft’s Professional Developer Conference (PDC09) in L.A., to the federal community. One of our own fearless leaders in the federal government, CIO Vivek Kundra, today joined Microsoft Chief Software Architect Ray Ozzie as Ray unveiled Microsoft’s cloud-based platformsWindows Azure and SQL Azure.  Windows Azure provides developers with on-demand compute and storage power to host, scale and manage Web applications on the Internet through Microsoft data centers. Think of Windows Azure as a sort of operating system in the cloud, extending the Windows platform to allow for the creation of new, transformative cloud experiences that federal enterprises can take advantage of.

With help from Vivek, we showcased a community technology preview (CTP) of a subset of Windows Azure - codename “Dallas. ” Powered by Windows Azure and SQL Azure, this “data as a service” provides an open catalogue and marketplace for data – both public and commercial.  Vivek demonstrated an app we helped to build for his iPhone - to find, query, and make meaningful use of Department of Labor teaching information and data that stored and catalogued in Windows Azure’s “Dallas.”  Not only could he find out where teachers were most needed, but he could even get to the level of jobs for special education teachers.

 

It’s this kind of data-as-a-service offering that will help to transform how we think about accessing government information. This is a critical step to better achieving the goals of Open Government. By leveraging cloud computing efforts like “Dallas”, we can help bring about increased efficiency, openness and transparency.  Dallas just might be the catalyst for a whole new wave of “re-mixing” and experimentation by developers.

Government customers are already building and experimenting with tools that can help our population access, analyze and make sense of data. For example, NASA also has a treasure trove of Mars data housed on Windows Azure and today, with Microsoft, NASA launched the “Pathfinder Innovation Challenge” to encourage new apps and uses for the vast amount of Mars images – imagine the uses in classrooms, science labs around the world. The possibilities are endless. I encourage everyone to recharge your creativity and to develop interesting apps with the Mars data.

You can view Ray and Vivek’s presentations today on-demand here.

For more information on today’s announcement, visit the Windows Azure website.