It’s sometimes easier to think about cloud computing in all or nothing terms – move everything into the cloud or leave everything as-is, on-premises.  But, as most know, the emerging reality is more of a hybrid approach, combining both cloud and on-premises resources.  Windows Server 2012 and System Center 2012 SP1 are embracing the hybrid model with services including Windows Azure Online Backup.  It’s a great example of how Windows Server, System Center and Windows Azure work together in what we call the “Cloud OS”.

Currently in preview, Windows Azure Online Backup is a cloud-based backup solution enabling server data to be backed up and recovered from the cloud in order to help protect against loss and corruption.  

The service provides IT administrators with a physically remote backup and recovery option for their server data with limited additional investment when compared with on-premises backup solutions.

In addition to cloud-based backup for Windows Server 2012, we are pleased to announce that Windows Azure Online Backup now also supports cloud-based backup from on-premises System Center 2012 SP1 via the Data Protection Manager component.  For more details on Windows Azure Online Backup please read the Server Cloud blog post.

Windows Azure Active Directory Management Portal

With today’s release of the Windows Azure Online Backup preview we are also releasing a supporting preview of the Windows Azure Active Directory Management Portal.  Customers can use the Windows Azure Active Directory Management Portal to sign up for Windows Azure Online Backup and manage users’ access to the service.  Administrators can now use the preview portal at https://activedirectory.windowsazure.com.

We’ll have more details on how the new Windows Azure Active Directory Management Portal can be used to manage your organization’s identity information in a separate blog post soon.