Microsoft announced today the availability of Windows Azure Infrastructure Services which is a collective name for running Virtual Machines and Virtual Networks in the cloud. Scott Guthrie’s blog on this subject is very informative. Pricing get slashed too to be competitive with Amazon. What’s interesting is that these cloud VMs can be configured as an extension to your existing network. In the BI world, this would allow us to source data from existing on-premises data sources albeit probably over a much slower connection, such as to host your ETL, data mart and SSAS in the cloud or just the analytical layer. Speaking of connection speeds, the Azure bandwidth is actually good (5-15 GB/s) although it’s likely that is likely you’ll hit a bottleneck with your ISP on your way to and back from the cloud.
And, speaking of BI, check the SQL Server Business Intelligence in Windows Azure Virtual Machines document if you’re interested in cloud BI deployments. Notice that there are VM templates that install SSRS (native mode), SSAS (Multidimensional), as well as SharePoint 2013 but you can install manually the other components as well if you need to, such as Tabular. Microsoft recommends Extra Large VM size for BI deployments although its memory capacity (14 GB) might be on the lower end especially for Tabular.