Windows Azure: Improvements to Management Portal; New SQL Server Tutorials in Virtual Machines; New SharePoint Cloud App Model

A number of new enhancements to the new Windows Azure Management Portal released over the last 3 weeks "are now live in production and available to start using immediately." In addtion, another new feature that is now live today within the portal is the new Windows Azure Store - which makes it incredibly easy to […]

A number of new enhancements to the new Windows Azure Management Portal released over the last 3 weeks "are now live in production and available to start using immediately."

In addtion, another new feature that is now live today within the portal is the new Windows Azure Store - which makes it incredibly easy to try and purchase developer services from a variety of partners.

The improvements include:

  • "Localization Support for 6 languages - You can easily switch between languages by clicking on the Avatar bar on the top right corner of the Portal. Selecting a different language will automatically refresh the UI within the portal in the selected language.
  • Operation Log Support making it easy to see exactly what management operations were performed on them. "You can query for these by selecting the "Settings" tab within the Portal and then choosing the "Operation Logs" tab within it. This displays a filter UI that enables you to query for operations by date and time," Microsoft blogged.
  • Support for SQL Database Metrics let you monitor the number of successful connections, failed connections and deadlocks in your SQL databases using the new "Dashboard" view provided on each SQL Database resource.
  • Virtual Machine Enhancements (quick create Windows + Linux VMs)
  • Web Site Enhancements (support for creating sites in all regions, private github repo deployment)
  • Cloud Service Improvements (deploy from storage account, configuration support of dedicated cache)
  • Media Service Enhancements (upload, encode, publish, stream all from within the portal)
  • Virtual Networking Usability Enhancements
  • Custom CNAME support with Storage Accounts," posted Scott Guthrie.

Also, this past week, Microsoft enabled Private GitHub and BitBucket repository support for Web Sites (previous to this you could only enable this with public repositories).

Improvements to the Windows Azure Management Portal

Guthrie also published a video, that covered the new SharePoint Cloud App Model, that Microsoft is introducing as part of the upcoming SharePoint 2013 and Office 365 releases.

This new app model for SharePoint is built around three core tenants:

  • "Simplifying the development model and making it consistent between the on-premises version of SharePoint and SharePoint Online provided with Office 365.
  • Making the execution model loosely coupled - and enabling developers to build apps and write code that can run outside of the core SharePoint service. This makes it easy to deploy SharePoint apps using Windows Azure, and avoid having to worry about breaking SharePoint and the apps within it when something is upgraded. This new loosely coupled model also enables developers to write SharePoint applications that can leverage the full capabilities of the .NET Framework - including ASP.NET Web Forms 4.5, ASP.NET MVC 4, ASP.NET Web API, EF 5, Async, and more.
  • Implementing this loosely coupled model using standard web protocols - like OAuth, JSON, and REST APIs - that enable developers to re-use skills and tools, and easily integrate SharePoint with Web and Mobile application architectures," Micosoft wrote.

The video walked through building an app from scratch - it showed off how easy it is to build solutions using new SharePoint application, and highlighted a web + workflow + mobile scenario that integrates SharePoint with code hosted on Windows Azure (all built using Visual Studio 2012 and ASP.NET 4.5 - including MVC and Web API).

Finally, the company posted new tutorials for SQL Server in Windows Azure Virtual Machines that help learning "how to use specific features of SQL Server in Windows Azure Virtual Machines" include:

  • Tutorial 1: Connect to SQL Server in the same cloud service: Demonstrates how to connect to SQL Server in the same cloud service within the Windows Azure Virtual Machine environment.
  • Tutorial 2: Connect to SQL Server in a different cloud service: Demonstrates how to connect to SQL Server in a different cloud service within the Windows Azure Virtual Machine environment.
  • Tutorial 3: Connect ASP.NET application to SQL Server in Windows Azure via Virtual Network: Demonstrates how to connect an ASP.NET application (a Web role, platform-as-a-service) to SQL Server in a Windows Azure Virtual Machine (infrastructure-as-a-service) via Windows Azure Virtual Network.

Check them out at the MSDN library here.