Government and educational institutions can now buy applications via Microsoft's Azure Marketplace and deploy them on the company's cloud platform. The store is also opening to businesses that bought Azure services through Microsoft partners, rather than directly.
The expansion broadens access to the cloud app store, through which Microsoft sells its own apps and tools, and those of third parties.
The government and education sectors are important additions. Companies that have enterprise agreements with Microsoft partners can now also purchase Marketplace apps as part of those deals, and be billed by the reseller rather than Microsoft directly. Previously, buying through the Azure Marketplace was limited to companies with an enterprise agreement with Microsoft.
Azure Marketplace was announced at the end of last year, and is one in a long line of Azure announcements from Microsoft. The company is methodically launching new services and adding features, big and small, to make Azure more competitive and a better fit for different applications.
On Marketplace, organizations can buy and deploy about 3,000 products that either run on or integrate with Azure without much hassle, Microsoft promises. The store's product categories are virtual machines, application services, API apps, Azure Active Directory applications, Web applications and data services.
It has some tough competition, including stores from Amazon, IBM, Oracle and Rackspace, which all predate it.
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