Microsoft adds new Azure tools to migrate data to the cloud and collaborate securely with partners


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Microsoft this morning announced several new Azure tools and features focused on migrating data to the cloud and helping businesses work securely with other companies and customers.

Though the cloud is increasingly popular, many companies also like to keep at least some presence on site, a trend known as hybrid cloud. Microsoft today announced a new Cloud Migration Assessment that analyzes servers and hardware, providing a report on the costs and benefits of moving data over to Azure. Microsoft is offering the Azure Hybrid Use Benefit to customers moving data over to Azure, a discount of up to 40 percent on Windows Server licenses and virtual machines.

For those coming over from another cloud provider, such as Amazon Web Services or VMware, Microsoft’s Azure Site Recovery tool is designed to help move information and applications to Windows Server.

Microsoft also announced new tools for Azure Active Directory, an identity and access management system, focused on business-to-business collaboration and ways for companies to store customer information.

A business can now grant access to a vendor or partner to work on a cloud-based project or document using already existing credentials, such as an email address. The alternative would require the company to add the partner to its network. That service is now generally available, Microsoft said.

In Europe, Azure users will now be able to securely store information from customers who sign into an app or service via social media. This new feature is designed to be scalable so that if a bunch of users sign up at the same time, it doesn’t crash the user’s system.

As Microsoft continues to battle cloud leader Amazon Web Services, these new tools are meant to emphasize the flexibility of Azure. Microsoft wants companies to be able to use their cloud in a variety of ways beyond storage to interact with customers and other businesses.