Microsoft has announced several Windows Azure updates this week including a Hadoop distribution preview called HDInsight.

Customers who need to process analytics within the open source Apache Hadoop deployment can now do so with the HDInsight service, and Microsoft is even offering a 50 percent discount on it during the preview period.

Cloud Crunching as a Service

Crunching Hadoop data in the cloud in Windows Azure has come to fruition with HDInsight, and while some of the features are still only in preview, MapReduce jobs can be used now, for example. As Microsoft tries to keep up with Amazon Web Services and Google Compute Engine, the inclusion of Hadoop tools should be a welcome boost. HDInsight has been in beta mode since last summer, and it now moves to a wider release.

There's even a free trial period for those who don't already have an Azure account. Like its competitors at Amazon and Google, Microsoft offers as needed compute power and scalability with Azure. Because Microsoft already has an extensive developer network, the company no doubt hopes to capture yet another segment, that being the open source segment of big data analytics.


Azure customers can request access to the HDInsight Preview and create HDInsight clusters on an as needed basis.

Windows Azure Mobile Services Update

Microsoft also announced updates to its Windows Azure Mobile Services, and it includes allowing HTML5/JS clients, Phone Gap apps and Windows Phone 7.5 clients to connect to it for data storage and authentication. Additionally, Windows Azure Web Sites has been updated to support website or app deployment from Dropbox.

Website files can be accessed in Dropbox via Azure, and once published, changes can be made or reverted to right from within the Azure Portal.

Microsoft is making a real push into the cloud with these updates, and as more and more and more businesses look to these kind of layouts, the battle with Google and Amazon will surely intensify.