April 2013

Announcements

Windows Azure Virtual Machines and Virtual Network are now generally available

Windows Azure Infrastructure Services - Virtual Machines and Virtual Network- help you meet growing business needs by providing on-demand, scalable infrastructure. These services enable you to extend your data centers and workloads into the cloud while using your existing skills and investments. Here are some things you can do with these new services:

  • Bring your Windows or Linux-based application to the cloud as-is.
  • Extend your existing identities to apps running in Virtual Machines by simply connecting to your on-premises Active Directory.
  • Quickly build sandboxes for Test & Dev to enable rapid innovation.
  • Spin up Microsoft SharePoint farms in minutes without major upfront investment.
  • Extend data marts into the cloud when running SQL Server in Virtual Machines.

Learn more at our Infrastructure Services page and get started today by visiting the Windows Azure Management Portal.

Take advantage of the new Windows Azure Backup preview

Windows Azure Backup helps you protect important server data off-site with automated backup and restoration. You can manage cloud backups from familiar backup tools in Windows Server 2012, Windows Server 2012 Essentials, or the Data Protection Manager component of Microsoft System Center 2012 Service Pack 1 (SP1).

With incremental backups, only changes to files are transferred to the cloud. This helps ensure efficient use of storage, reduced bandwidth consumption, and point-in-time recovery of multiple versions of the data. Backups are stored in Windows Azure and are “off-site,” reducing the need to secure and protect on-site backup media. For more details, check out ScottGu's blog.

Windows Azure Active Directory: Ready for Production with over 265 Billion Authentications & 2.9 Million Organizations Served

We’re excited to share that Windows Azure Active Directory (AD) has reached general availability and is now ready for production use. Windows Azure Active Directory is the world’s largest cloud based, enterprise quality, internet scale Identity and Access Management Solution. With this latest release, existing Windows Azure customers who log in using a Microsoft Account can now add a Windows Azure AD tenant and use it to manage access to Azure for their employees with either Microsoft Accounts or Azure AD accounts. Get your own Windows Azure AD cloud directory today.

Crunch big data in the cloud with Windows Azure HDInsight service

Microsoft has been hard at work over the past year developing solutions that allow businesses to get started doing big data analytics with the tools and processes familiar to them. We are excited to announce that one of those solutions — Windows Azure HDInsight service, our cloud-based distribution of Hadoop—is now available as a standard preview service on the Windows Azure Management Portal. As Scott Guthrie noted in his blog, customers can get started doing Hadoop-based big data analytics in the cloud today, paying for only the storage and compute that they use through their regular Windows Azure subscription.

Get started using Windows Azure HDInsight Service today. For more information about HDInsight Service and our work with the Hadoop community, visit the Data Platform SQL Server blog. We look forward to seeing where your Hadoop clusters take you!

Window Azure Agreement is new and improved

For customers who purchase Windows Azure online, we have a new and improved customer agreement. The Windows Azure Agreement* includes a new section on security, privacy, and data protection, detailing our commitments to you on these important topics. The agreement incorporates new Services Terms that include our Acceptable Use Policy and terms specific to Windows Azure features, eliminating dozens of pages relevant only to our other online services. We believe the result is a simpler, more readable agreement for our customers.

We also have updated the Windows Azure Privacy Statement to provide additional detail about how we handle payment and administrator data. And for customers wanting more information, we continue to provide our Windows Azure Trust Center with detailed information on the security, privacy, and compliance topics most important to our customers.

Mobile Services releases HTML5 support ready to power your mobile apps

With the latest Windows Azure Mobile Services update, you can quickly light up almost any mobile app with a back end hosted in Windows Azure and your first 10 instances of Mobile Services are free. The new Mobile Services HTML5 Software Development Kit enables you to build pure HTML5/JS clients and PhoneGap apps, and the portable client library preview adds Windows Phone 7.5 support.

Watch this video for an introduction to the Mobile Services HTML Client, and find the NuGet package in the portable client library preview.

Microsoft Acquires MetricsHub

We are pleased to welcome cloud monitoring startup MetricsHub—a participant in Microsoft Accelerator, powered by TechStars — to Windows Azure. As an innovator in Active Cloud Monitoring, a technology that automates cloud performance management, MetricsHub helps customers efficiently manage their cloud services at a lower cost.

It is difficult to understand, monitor, and correlate all the application data points that tell you how and when you need to scale your application. That’s where MetricsHub technology comes in, automating performance optimization with little effort on the part of customers.

You can learn more at the MetricsHub site.

Learning

Infrastructure Services – Windows Azure Virtual Machines & What’s in it for You

Matt Hester kicks off his 8 part Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) series and in today’s episode he welcomes Chief Technical Evangelist for the Cloud, Brian Prince to the show as they give us an overview of Windows Azure Virtual Machines. Tune in as they build a case for why both developers and IT Professionals should consider using this service as well as how to get started and create your own Azure Virtual Machine in minutes.

From End to Edge and Beyond - Episode 27: Windows Azure IaaS and You

Matt Hester talks with Yuri Diogenes and Tom Shinder about Windows Azure IaaS. Great chat about the overall capabilities to configure and deploy VMs, security functionalities and recommendations during the migration process. Matt also will demonstration on how to use the Windows Azure portal to provision a new virtual machine. Listen Now!

TechNet Radio: (Part 2) Windows Azure Virtual Machine FAQs

During this episode we tackle the top Windows Azure Virtual Machines FAQs and common gotchas. Tune in for this Q&A session and get the answers to some of the most common issues we’ve seen customers run into plus stick around for a quick demo on how to setup and create your own virtual network.

New Infrastructure Services (IaaS) content resources

We have released a number of new articles, videos, and samples on WindowsAzure.com. Check out these new and updated documentation sections to find resources that will help you make the most of Windows Azure Virtual Machines, a key component of Infrastructure Services on Windows Azure.

Windows Azure Hands-on Labs Online (HOLO) training: Sign up now

Want to get hands-on with Windows Azure? Review the list of upcoming Windows Azure HOLO events and sign up to hear live presentations from Microsoft Technical Evangelists and work through lab exercises on the topics including:

Be sure to download the Windows Azure 90-Day Free Trial to participate in the hands-on portion of these trainings.

System Center 2012 SP1 enhancements and Windows Azure Services for Windows Server

Harold Wong welcomes Senior Marketing Manager John Allwright to the TechNet Radio show to discuss enhancements made to Microsoft System Center 2012 Service Pack 1 (SP1) and the new capabilities found within Windows Azure Services for Windows Server.

Tune in as they chat about virtual networking, Global Service Monitor, and the Service Provider Foundation API, as well as demo how these all fit into an integrated cloud operating system model.

Using Windows Azure to Build Back-End Services for Windows 8 Apps – Part 3

Tune in for the third part of “Using Windows Azure to Build Back-End Services for Windows 8 Apps” on Microsoft DevRadio. Peter Laudati, Brian Hitney, and Andrew Duthie show us how easy it is to host services built with the Microsoft ASP.NET Web API using the new Windows Azure Web Sites feature.

Watch Part 1 | Part 2

Monitor your applications with Foglight for Windows Azure Applications

Kevin Remde welcomes Douglas Chrystall, Chief Architect at Dell Software, to the TechNet Radio Cloud Innovators show to discuss Foglight for Windows Azure Applications.

Tune in to hear about the Dell solution, which can provide diagnostics and improve application performance quality.

Partner Content

Deploy Windows Azure Virtual Machines with RightScale for rapid testing and validation

Ever get crunched for time at the end of a development project because of scope creep or time expansion in all of the other steps of your software development lifecycle? You can slim down prep time and keep your testers testing by automating the process of deploying your test environments with Microsoft Visual Studio Team Foundation Server, Windows Azure Virtual Machines, and RightScale.

Read the full story in the RightScale blog, complete with code examples on GitHub. Check it out, and get your development project back on track by taking it to the cloud.

Social business in your private cloud with Windows Azure

Incentive is a popular social business software offering available in the Windows Azure App Gallery. You get activity streams, blogs, wikis, and dashboards—all protected behind your firewall in your private cloud. Using the Microsoft WebMatrix cloud-connected web development tool, you can easily build your own business apps totally integrated in Incentive or even embed your Yammer feeds. Incentive is available as a feature-complete free trial with no time limit. Get started today!

Windows Azure customers can receive premium email features with SendGrid’s new offer

SendGrid now has an exciting new offer to share with Microsoft Windows Azure customers. Windows Azure customers can now start receiving SendGrid’s premium email features and 25,000 monthly emails for free. The 25,000 free emails per month will provide you with all the premium features that SendGrid has to offer including Advanced Reporting and Analytics as well as access to all APIs (Web, SMTP, Event, Parse, Sub-User).

If you are a Microsoft Windows Azure customer, follow these steps to access SendGrid’s email service:

  1. Go to https://manage.windowsazure.com/ (login required).
  2. In the lower pane of the management portal, click New.
  3. Click Store.
  4. In the Choose an Add-on dialog, select SendGrid and click the right arrow.
  5. In the Personalize Add-on dialog, select the SendGrid plan you want to sign up for.

Success Stories

Blackbaud uses IaaS with Windows Azure to help nonprofits

Blackbaud brings nonprofit technology and expertise to 27,000 nonprofits who rely on Blackbaud to raise money, manage funds and run their operations. With Windows Azure Infrastructure Services, Blackbaud found a scalable solution for both hosting their legacy applications and supporting training needs for customers across the world.

"We have customers in 60 countries around the world that need access to our business operations applications. They need to be trained and have immediate access. Windows Azure allows us to do offer that at instant scale." – Don Noonan, Blackbaud

Full story here

GM uses Windows Azure to integrate social and email feedback system

Autodealers need instant feedback and the ability to participate in digital conversations about their products, sales and services. To meet this need, Digital Air Strike used Windows Azure Platform and Infrastructure Services to build a system that allows for integration of social feeds, an email feedback response system and immediate information for both dealers and consumers.

"We work with the largest manufacturing enterprises in the world – like GM, Ford and KIA. We looked at other cloud providers but when you work with the Enterprise, you have to choose Microsoft." - Alexi Venneri, Digital Air Strike

Full story here

* The Windows Azure Agreement applies to new customers and existing customers renewing their subscriptions (including through autorenew) or adding new subscriptions. For pay-as-you-go customers, the new agreement will go into effect at the start of the next billing period. The Windows Azure Agreement will not apply to existing subscriptions still in a commitment term (for example, 6-month or 12-month plans) or to customers who did not purchase online from www.windowsazure.com (for example, Microsoft Volume Licensing customers who purchased through an Enterprise Agreement).