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Windows Azure Services to Deliver “Hybrid Cloud”, Announces New Tools, Language Support, and SDKs

New Windows Azure Portal and Command Line Tools

Scott Guthrie during, “Meet Windows Azure” event today in San Francisco, announced new services and updates for Windows Azure that will be available in preview starting today, June 7th.

“These new services will simplify building applications that span cloud and on-premises servers and give customers greater flexibility in how to build or bring their applications to the cloud,” Microsoft said.

The company says that they will also add support for new operating systems, release new language libraries for .NET, Java, PHP, and Node.js, and will make Windows Azure available in new geographies.

New Windows Azure Portal now contains a single, holistic, integrated management portal to help guide customers toward key tasks and integrated billing information. The portal enable you to manage all features and services offered on Azure in a seamless, integrated way. It is very fast and fluid, supports filtering and sorting (making it much easier to use for large deployments), works on all browsers, and offers a lot of great new features – including built-in VM, Web site, Storage, and Cloud Service monitoring support.

Also, today released new command-line tools (which like the portal call the REST Management APIs) to make it even easier to script and automate your administration tasks. “We are offering both a Powershell (for Windows) and Bash (for Mac and Linux) set of tools to download. Like our SDKs, the code for these tools is hosted on GitHub under an Apache 2 license,” Guthrie said.

Windows Azure SDK June 2012 includes new developer capabilities for writing code against the latest service improvements with updated support for Java, PHP, and .NET, and the addition of Python as a supported language on Windows Azure. The .NET SDK for Azure has in particular seen a bunch of great improvements with today’s release, and now includes tooling support for both VS 2010 and the VS 2012 RC.

Additionally, the SDK now provides 100% command line support for both Windows and Mac and now shipping Windows, Mac and Linux SDK downloads.

Windows Azure is now being expanded to 48 new countries, including Russia, South Korea, Taiwan, Turkey, Egypt, South Africa, and Ukraine. “Roll-out will be complete later this month, making Windows Azure one of the most widely available cloud platforms in the industry with offerings in 89 countries and in 19 local currencies,” Microsoft said.

Windows Azure also supports the ability to build cloud services that support rich multi-tier architectures, automated application management, and scale to extremely large deployments. Previously we referred to this capability as “hosted services” – this release now referring to this capability as “cloud services”.

Here are some of the highlights:

  • Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS): Capabilities include Windows Azure Virtual Machines for Windows and Linux-based applications, as well as the Windows Azure Virtual Network to securely link Windows Azure with on-premises networks.
  • Interoperability Updates: Microsoft is making it easier for developers to create and deploy applications on Windows Azure in the languages and on the platforms of their choice by now providing libraries for Java and Python.
  • Improved Developer Productivity: Windows Azure now enables developers to more quickly and easily develop and deploy elastic websites in the languages and on the platforms of their choice using Windows Azure Web Sites, and also significantly improves DevOps with support for Visual Studio Team Foundation Server.
  • Improved Application Services: This release includes several updates to Windows Azure’s application services, including updates to Windows Azure Active Directory, the Content Delivery Network (CDN), support for HPC, distributed caching, updates to Service Bus, and support for Media Services.
  • Windows Azure Web Sites –Windows Azure now supports the ability to quickly and easily deploy ASP.NET, Node.js and PHP web-sites to a highly scalable cloud environment that allows you to start small (and for free) and then scale up as your traffic grows. You can create a new web site in Azure and have it ready to deploy to in under 10 seconds.

    Windows Azure Web Sites

    You can deploy to web-sites in seconds using FTP, Git, TFS and Web Deploy. It will also allow easy deployment of open source applications like WordPress, Joomla!, DotNetNuke, Umbraco, and Drupal to the cloud with a few clicks.

    Microsoft also releasing tooling updates today for both Visual Studio and Web Matrix that enable developers to seamlessly deploy ASP.NET applications to this new offering. The VS and Web Matrix publishing support includes the ability to deploy SQL databases as part of web site deployment – as well as the ability to incrementally update database schema with a later deployment.

    You can integrate web application publishing with source control by selecting the “Set up TFS publishing” or “Set up Git publishing” links on a web-site’s dashboard.

  • Windows Azure Virtual Machines give you application mobility, allowing you to move your virtual hard disks (VHDs) back and forth between on-premises and the cloud. You can easily create these VMs using a new Image Gallery built-into the new Windows Azure Portal, or alternatively upload and run your own custom-built VHD images.

    Windows Zure Virtual Machine

    Virtual Machines are durable (meaning anything you install within them persists across reboots) and you can use any OS with them. “Our built-in image gallery includes both Windows Server images (including the new Windows Server 2012 RC) as well as Linux images (including Ubuntu, CentOS, and SUSE distributions),” Githrie said.

    “Once you create a VM instance you can easily Terminal Server or SSH into it in order to configure and customize the VM however you want (and optionally capture your own image snapshot of it to use when creating new VM instances). This provides you with the flexibility to run pretty much any workload within Windows Azure.”

    New Virtual Machine support also enables the ability to easily attach multiple data-disks to VMs (which you can then mount and format as drives). You can optionally enable geo-replication support on these – which will cause Windows Azure to continuously replicate your storage to a secondary data-center at least 400 miles away from your primary data-center as a backup.

    Windows Azure Virtual Machine support also enables the ability to easily attach multiple data-disks to VMs

  • Windows Azure Virtual Network lets you provision and manage virtual private networks (VPNs) in Windows Azure as well as securely extend on-premises networks into the cloud. It provides control over network topology, including configuration of IP addresses, routing tables and security policies and uses the industry-standard IPSEC protocol to provide a secure connection between your corporate VPN gateway and Windows Azure.
  • Distributed Cache enables you to use and setup a low-latency, in-memory distributed cache within your applications. This cache is isolated for use just by your applications, and does not have any throttling limits and can dynamically grow and shrink elastically (without you have to redeploy your app or make code changes), and supports the full richness of the AppFabric Cache Server API (including regions, high availability, notifications, local cache and more).

    In addition to supporting the AppFabric Cache Server API, it also now supports the Memcached protocol – allowing you to point code written against Memcached at it (no code changes required).

    Windows Azure Distributed Cache

To learn more about these new services, including updates to existing services, you can read the Fact Sheet.

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