Although most developers are aware that Microsoft is a player in the cloud services arena, it’s anyone’s guess if they will be among the top “cloud players” in 2012. If they are to be a key player in the cloud industry, which service or feature will they be providing with Azure that no other competitors can touch?
One serious feature that could put Azure back in contention with other cloud services would be persistent images, also referred to as VM roles. Current cloud service clients who use Rackspace, GoGrid and Amazon EC2 would appreciate the ability to deploy a server image to a public cloud so that it can be used to host an app 24/7/365. Microsoft has been working on the feature, but it’s still in beta at this time, and has been for almost a year.