I think everyone knew about it or suspected it but the ‘Azure VM Role’ was announced today at PDC. This functionality would allow you to run a full operating system instance and maintain administrative rights on the Azure platform. The scenario provided by Bob Muglia was that of choosing a base operating system instance, installing your software/other tools, snapshot the VM to a VHD and supply back to Azure to run on the fabric. I suspect this will be Windows only for quite a while but it will allow more complex/legacy applications to be hosted within Azure. Lastly as part of this full administrative access you would also be able to initiate a Terminal Services session (RDP) directly to the server.
Bob’s slide broke it down in 4 easy steps.
1. Select Base Window Server Image
2. Customize Virtual Machine Role
3. Snapshot Virtual Machine Image
4. Deploy Application and Target Your New VM Role.