On October 3rd 2012 I held an informational event on BUGS in the premises of Informator in Stockholm about running BizTalk 2010 R2 (or whatever the name in the end will turn out to be)in Windows Azure. Great news for us professional system integrators who have had over 10 years of pleasure working with BizTalk. The fact that Microsoft allows us to seamlessly move our integration engine from on-premise to the cloud (Microsoft BizTalk 2010 R2 comes with license mobility) will increase availability as most local IT-departments simply do not have the economics, power, resources or the organization to match those of Microsoft. Microsoft will have better SLAs than most other. BizTalk will now run as an infrastructural component directly in the cloud (IaaS). Microsoft is also providing the new EAI and EDI functionality which is based on long established BizTalk patterns. The latter provides the platform as a service (PaaS).
I find it especially nice that Microsoft allows us to setup our own private networks directly in the cloud and to top that they also provides us with the infrastructural configurations to easily connect the on-premise network and the cloud network through a static VPN tunnel. This means that we can move our BizTalks to a more reliable hardware platform and pay as you go. These machines in the cloud are of course easily accessible and manageable from everywhere. BizTalk machines in the cloud can use this VPN-bridge connect to LOB-systems on premise. So there is no reason to wait any longer, you can have your development and test environments up in only a few hours. Production environments should of course wait until final release, which probably lies within 6 months from now.
Microsoft has not yet announced what BizTalk 2010 R2 running in the cloud will cost but indications are that the established path with no costs up front and pay as you go will be the model.