Microsoft is putting more of its home-grown apps into the cloud, as it improves the capabilities of the Windows Azure cloud platform. Enterprise users can expect Photosynth and Dynamics NAV to be on the Azure platform, along with several other Enterprise Resource Planning apps that will follow by 2012.

Microsoft launched Azure in 2010 with the intent to provide cloud-based services to businesses and to compete with the likes of Amazon AWS, EMC, Rackspace and other players. But as with most cloud offerings, your platform is only as good as the applications that run on it. This is why Microsoft is now showcasing the capabilities of the platform by moving its legacy apps to Azure, starting with Photosynth and Dynamics NAV.

Seeing the World in Three Dimensions

Microsoft Photosynth is an application that lets users capture and manipulate images in 3D. These can then be published onto popular social networking sites like Facebook, mapping apps like Bing Maps, or through one's own website. "Synths" or 3D images, as well as "Panos" or panoramic images, used to be stored through a partner CDN. However, all of Photosynth's data are served via Windows Azure.

When we launched Photosynth more than three years ago Microsoft didn't have a general-purpose cloud-based storage and distribution network, so we used a partner to provide storage and CDN (Content Distribution Network) services. But things have changed dramatically in the last few years, and our own  Windows Azure is now among the strongest cloud solutions in the industry. We're excited to be "eating our own dog food", as we say, and moving every last Photosynth pixel to Azure.

The Photosynth team says that about half of the on-site uploads are currently directing to Azure, and the migration should be completed within the week. Partner data will then be migrated to the Azure platform -- all 40 terabytes -- within a few weeks' time.

Planning Your Enterprise Resources via the Cloud

Meanwhile, Microsoft has begun making good on its promise to port its set of three ERP solutions to Azure, as announced at the Convergence 2011 conference. Dynamics NAV currently runs on older Microsoft hosting infrastructure, and as such, migration will take a bit longer. Users can expect the full migration to Azure by 2012.

With Azure supporting an increasing number of Microsoft's own applications, Microsoft hopes to improve customer trust in the platform, and encourage other developers to support Windows Azure, as well.