Possibly as an answer to the likes of Dropbox, Amazon and Google, Microsoft has launched its new Cloud OS Network this week. It introduces a global consortium of cloud service providers that will offer Windows Azure infrastructure-as-a-service.

More than 25 providers have signed up for its initial launch, including household names Capgemini, CGI, Computer Sciences Corporation, Fujitsu Finland and Lenovo. Overall, the providers in the Cloud OS Network cover over 90 regions worldwide, collectively serving more than 3 million customers with more than 2.4 million servers across 425 data centres.

Previous efforts with Windows Azure have been about its functionality - price drops, data access and API management - this time it's about adding more credibility by way of network effect.

Efficiency

Using the Windows Server 2012 R2 and the Windows Azure Pack, each provider offers Microsoft validated cloud-based infrastructure and associated applications. Eugene Saburi, general manager of Microsoft Cloud OS marketing, said that the firm launched the network with the understanding that regional providers may be better equipped to provide Azure cloud services than Microsoft itself.

A local provider is more likely to offer better latency times due to its data centres being closer to customers. Regional providers would also know how to more efficiently reach the potential customer base.

Azure users will benefit in a number of ways as well, says Saburi. With a variety of competing Azure services, an organisation can move their workloads from provider to provider should their service suffer. This allows customers to use their own copies to manage both in-house resources and those in the cloud.

"It allows customers to experience boundary-less data centres, being able to move workloads and virtual machines and assets whether they are in the data centre, in our cloud, or in a partner's cloud" Saburi said.