The advent of IaaS in Windows Azure introduces hybrid cloud support to Microsoft’s platform.
A hybrid cloud is one that combines public and private clouds in order to take advantage of cloud resources, while still maintaining on-premise infrastructure. Microsoft’s System Centre 2012, which is a suite of network management applications, can connect to Azure, as well as to on-premise networks. There is also an Azure add-on for Orchestrator, which lets you automate the creation and monitoring of IT resources. A full System Centre deployment can enable users to deploy applications to Azure automatically using a self-service portal such as System Centre App Controller.
This kind of set-up is complex to configure, and there are differences and inconsistencies between a private cloud using System Centre and a public cloud on Azure. The concept is powerful though, and as these tools mature Microsoft’s hybrid cloud will become more attractive.