Microsoft’s Open Government Data Initiative (OGDI) provides an Internet-standards-based approach to house existing public government data in Microsoft’s cloud computing platform, called Windows Azure. The approach makes the data accessible in a programmatic manner that uses open, industry-standard protocols and application programming interfaces (APIs). You can check out the reference beta site that shows an implementation of a data service in Windows Azure, using a sample of publicly available US government data.
“Microsoft is releasing a free, open source software development kit that gives agencies, or third parties with access to that data, the tools they need to host their data in Azure and provide programmatic interfaces to the data via REST. By default, OGDI churns out data in the Atom format, which can be consumed in any number of ways, including but not limited to .Net, Ruby, PHP, and Python. OGDI can also handle geospatial data,” reports InformationWeek.