Windows Azure Storage ‘Signed URLs, Expanded Blob Copy’ Improved Manageability; Solr and LucidWorks Enterprise Search for Azure

At Tech Ed NA 2012, Microsoft's Jai Haridas presented multiple improvements to Windows Azure Storage include: price reductions, new manageability features, and new service features for Windows Azure Blobs, Tables, and Queues."We've released a new version of the REST API, "2012-02-12". We've updated the Java Storage Client library to reflect the new features. We've also […]

At Tech Ed NA 2012, Microsoft's Jai Haridas presented multiple improvements to Windows Azure Storage include: price reductions, new manageability features, and new service features for Windows Azure Blobs, Tables, and Queues.

"We've released a new version of the REST API, "2012-02-12". We've updated the Java Storage Client library to reflect the new features. We've also released source code for a CTP of our .NET storage client library," the Azure team stated.

Microsoft also reduced the pricing for storage transactions from $0.01 per 10,000 transactions to $0.01 per 100,000, reducing transaction costs by 90%!

This version contains the following new features:

  • Shared Access Signatures (Signed URLs) for Tables and Queues allows account owners to issue URL access to specific resources such as tables, table ranges, queues, blobs and containers while specifying granular sets of permissions.

    In addition, there are some smaller improvements to Shared Access Signatures for Blobs.

  • Expanded Blob Copy - For Blobs, Microsoft now support copying blobs between storage accounts and copy blob (even within accounts) is performed as an asynchronous operation. "This is available in the new version, but will only work if the destination storage account was created on or after June 7, 2012," the team said. Of course, Copy Blob operations within the same account will continue to work for all accounts.
  • Improved Blob Leasing now available for blob containers, allows infinite lease duration. In addition, lease durations between 15-60 seconds are also supported. Changing the lease id (in order to rotate the lease-id across your components) is now supported.

Also, users of the Windows Azure Management Portal will now benefit from the following improvements in managing their storage accounts:

  • Introducing Locally Redundant Storage - Storage users are now able turn off geo-replication by choosing Locally Redundant Storage (LRS), that provides highly durable and vailable storage within a single location (sub region).
  • Choosing Geo Redundant Storage or Locally Redundant Storage - By default storage accounts are configured for Geo Redundant Storage (GRS), meaning that Table and Blob data is replicated both within the primary location and also to a location hundreds of miles away (geo-replication). The price of GRS remains unchanged. Please note that a one-time bandwidth charge will apply if you choose to re-enable GRS after switching to LRS.
  • Configuration of Storage Analytics - While analytics features (metrics and logging) have been available since last summer, configuring them required the user to call the REST API. In the new management portal, users can easily configure these features.
  • Monitoring Storage Metrics - Storage users can now also monitor any desired set of metrics tracked in your account via the management portal.

Also, LucidWorks Cloud for Windows Azure, is geat for those who want to get up and running quickly, but there are also developers who will want to take responsibility for all of the details and host Solr or LucidWorks Enterprise themselves.

"There are many options for getting up and running with Solr and LucidWorks. For a simple overview of how easy it is to start using the new LucidWorks Cloud service, check out the Getting Started video that covers how to create a collection, index a web site, and then search that website using the Lucidworks Cloud dashboard," posted Doug Mahugh.

You can download LucidWorks Enterprise and install it, or you can take advantage of the simple Solr installer for Windows Azure that helps you deploy your own Solr instances as Windows Azure cloud services.

With Windows 8 coming and Windows Azure being around as a solid cloud platform, there will be many new scenarios possible and big opportunities available to build new types of services and applications.

One of the key features of Windows 8 is the support for notifications, an easy and user friendly way to inform the user about events, available data, updates and much more.

"For the Windows Phone users this experience will feel familiar, as we are already using it for a while. For Windows 8, the experience will be similar but even more possibilities and scenarios are available."

In this video, Kristof Rennen shows what Windows 8 offers to notify the user and what options developers have to implement those. To allow flexibility, scalability and transparency, we will use Windows Azure as a backend and initiator of the notifications to show you the close relationship between the two.

Windows 8 Notifications From Windows Azure:

In this episode, Faith Allington opens up her Windows Azure-hosted instance of WordPress in WebMatrix. Then she tweaks some code, adds some features, and deploys the changes right back to Windows Azure--all right within the WebMatrix 2 IDE.

If you're a PHP developer, you'll want to see all the great features WebMatrix and Windows Azure Web Sites can offer you, including code completion, live editing, local replication, and--obviously--dirt-simple deployment.