What’s new with Windows Azure?

Last week at PDC 2010, Microsoft announced some new features in Windows Azure. Here’s a quick rundown of those new features along with my take.

New Management Portal: Azure’s management portal is getting a much needed facelift and better integration. If you’ve used Azure at all, you’ll know that there are three different management pieces and having to go back and forth can be a pain. Well, that’s all changing. Coming soon, the new portal will be Silverlight powered and the three sites will be integrated into one. I think this is great, and I wonder why this wasn’t done sooner.  Expect availability sometime before the end of 2010.

Admin Mode: I’m excited about this one. Currently, if you develop an application for the Azure cloud and deploy it and issues occur there currently are not many ways to diagnose the failure. Admin Mode, essentially Remote Desktop, changes things. With Admin Mode, you are able to RDP into your Web Roles and manage them just as if they were being run on a physical server in your own datacenter. Expect availability sometime before the end of 2010.

Full IIS Support: Currently when an application is deployed into the Azure cloud, it is deployed into a highly customized version of IIS. With the new Admin Role, Microsoft is extending Full IIS support. Meaning that you’ll be able to deploy your application into the Azure cloud with the same flexibility as deploying an app in-house. Expect availability sometime before the end of 2010.

Multiple Administrators: Right now, Azure is limited to two administrators per service account. Microsoft will now allow multiple administrators per service account. Expect availability sometime before the end of 2010.

VM Role: Microsoft will now offer the ability to create a Virtual Machine and host it in the Azure cloud. Windows Server 2008 R2 VMs will be supported first with Server 2003 coming later. Key caution is that these are not stateful VMs, they revert to the uploaded image upon restart. Expect CTP availability sometime before the end of 2010 and a final release in 2011.

Extra Small Compute Instance: Microsoft is now offering an extra small instance that includes a 1GhZ processor, 768MB of RAM, and 20GB of disk space, all for $0.05/hr. I think this is a great starter option and can be used for smaller scale cloud applications. Available now.

These are in my opinion some of the top new features in Windows Azure. There are many more, such as SQL Reporting Services support in SQL Azure, finalization of the SQL Azure Database Manager, and some updates to the Azure AppFabric.

For more information, I highly suggest visiting the Microsoft PDC website and viewing sessions related to Azure. Click here to visit the Microsoft PDC website.

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