If anyone had any doubts that Microsoft views Amazon as a potential threat to its cloud strategy—or at the very least, that it desperately wants Amazon’s cloud customers—then the company’s recent announcements at its Worldwide Partner Conference in Toronto should put those to rest. Microsoft has announced a set of technologies designed to, in the company’s words, “deliver capabilities consistent with services running in Windows Azure.” To take that out of corporate-speak for a moment, that means Microsoft has set up a platform through which its partners can start offering Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), something that will put it on a firm collision course with Amazon. It’s doing so by bringing Windows Azure Web Sites, Virtual Machines, Service Management Portal and APIs to Windows Server. Using Microsoft’s platform, hosting providers will be able to offer their customers a variety of services, including virtual machine (VM) and Website hosting. GoDaddy is apparently a Microsoft pilot client on the initiative. The Website-hosting services support frameworks such as ASP.NET, Classic ASP, PHP and Node.js; the platform also integrates Web App Gallery, and features metering and throttling controls. The Virtual Machines aspect allows providers to create IaaS offerings for either Windows Server or Linux Virtual Machines. The Service Management Portal and APIs lets IT administrators and other pros manage Websites and virtual machine services, as well as give their customers the ability to provision their own Web properties. System requirements include at least four virtual machines running Windows Server 2012 or Windows Server 2008 R2, along with System Center 2012 SP1 CTP2 VHD. On each of those virtual machines, administrators will also need to install .NET Framework 3.5 and .NET Framework 4 with all applicable updates. Microsoft has been in a partner-centric mood lately with regard to its cloud products; at the Worldwide Partner Conference, it also announced a new “Office 365 Open,” essentially a reseller service for the cloud-based productivity platform. Whether that allows Microsoft to better compete against various cloud rivals (including Google and Amazon) remains to be seen, but one thing’s for sure—the company really wants this market for itself.   Image: Sashkin/Shutterstock.com