February 2014

Announcements

The Winter Olympics—powered by Windows Azure

It’s not just the skiers, skaters and biathletes out to prove themselves at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. Microsoft is betting that Windows Azure Media Services will also prove its value at the games which kicked off February 7th. Learn how NBC Sports is using Windows Azure to live stream the games to your TV or device.

A8, A9 compute-intensive instances for use with Windows Azure Cloud Services are now generally available

A8 and A9 compute-intensive instances are now generally available for use with Windows Azure Cloud Services. This new category of instances provides faster processors and more virtual cores for higher compute power, larger amounts of memory, and a 40 Gbit/s InfiniBand network that includes remote direct memory access (RDMA) technology for maximum efficiency of parallel Message Passing Interface (MPI) applications.

Oracle images for Windows Azure VMs

Oracle Database, Oracle WebLogic Server, and the Java development environment have been available, preinstalled on Windows Server images, since our announcement on September 24, 2013. These images—with licenses for the Oracle software they contain—are in preview in the Windows Azure Virtual Machines Image Marketplace. Starting March 12, 2014, these images will enter general availability. To learn about general availability pricing for virtual machines that include Oracle software licenses, visit the Virtual Machines Pricing Details webpage. For more information, visit the Oracle Software on Windows Azure webpage.

Announcing Windows Azure Japan Geo general availability

Two new Windows Azure regions: Japan East in the Tokyo metropolitan area (Saitama Prefecture) and Japan West (Osaka Prefecture) were brought online to meet growing demand for Windows Azure services and help our customers satisfy performance needs. These new regions provide Japanese customers the ability to meet data residency goals and improve data durability in case of major disaster by deploying to two geographically isolated regions. For more information on Japan Geo general availability, please read the Official Microsoft Blog.

Windows Azure Service Health Dashboard (SHD) integrated with your Windows Azure Management Portal experience

We’re bringing the Service Health Dashboard (SHD) incident information into your management portal experience. The next time Azure has a service event that may impact your subscription, you’ll receive an alert at the bottom of your portal. Click the alert for more information or see details in the operational logs after the event is mitigated. Incident alerting is available to all users within your subscription. Learn more

Try HDInsight supporting Hadoop 2.2 Public Preview

Windows Azure HDInsight, Microsoft’s 100% Apache Hadoop-based distribution for Windows Azure, now supports Hadoop 2.2 clusters in public preview. New in this release are some incredible improvements to query response times (up to 40 times faster) and data compression (up to 80% improvement) for lower storage requirements. It also provides the ability to get the benefits of YARN. Learn more about the public preview and check out the documentation guide and video to get started now.

Multi-Factor Authentication for Office 365 and Windows Azure administrators

On February 10, Microsoft announced general availability of Windows Azure Multi-Factor Authentication for Office 365 which works exclusively with Office 365 applications at no additional cost and is managed from the Office 365 portal. To enable Multi-Factor Authentication for other on-premises and cloud applications you can purchase the Windows Azure Multi-Factor Authentication service, which offers a rich set of capabilities, additional configuration options via the Windows Azure portal, advanced reporting and more. The same set of capabilities for Office 365 are available at no cost to Windows Azure administrators. View this video for an overview.

Windows Azure Active Directory Premium public preview

We’re excited to announce some great new features that have been added to Windows Azure Active Directory premium. New application usage reporting is now available, along with several new SaaS applications. When added to the application marketplace, new applications can be enabled for Single Sign On, and self-service group management, simplifying day-to-day group administration and enabling group owners to approve requests and maintain their group’s memberships. Sign up for the Windows Azure AD Premium preview today to see how these features can benefit you!

BizTalk Services update and resources

An update is available to Windows Azure BizTalk Services--a simple yet powerful cloud-based integration service that provides Business-to-Business (B2B) and Enterprise Application Integration (EAI) capabilities for delivering cloud and hybrid integration solutions. Get added support for EDIFACT in B2B message processing, enhanced EAI capabilities, simplified on-premise connectivity setup, and more. Download the new BizTalk Services SDK now.

Microsoft Power BI for Office 365 general availability

We’re excited to announce the general availability of Microsoft Power BI for Office 365. To learn more about how we’re bringing together Office 365, Azure, and Business Intelligence, watch Quentin Clark, Microsoft CVP, kick off the Strata Conference with his keynote Bringing Big Data to One Billion People. To learn more, visit the Power BI website where you can read customer stories, see Power BI in action and check out some Power BI samples.

Beast Quake 2.0! Windows Azure powers the Seahawks’ Fan-o-Meter

When the Seahawks faced the San Francisco 49ers for the NFC Championship, interested fans from around the world could see the impact of the 12th Man for themselves, in real time. Seismic sensors, powered by Windows Azure, were used by the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network (PNSN) to measure just how much the 12th Man shook CenturyLink Field.

Learning

It’s Friday with Windows Azure!

Watch this week’s Windows Azure Friday Website video “Azure Queues 101 - Basics of Queues” with Azure expert Mark Simms. He covers the basics and shows why queues are important in a distributed app.

In the Cloud with Brad Anderson

Check out the In the Cloud blog series where you’ll get valuable insights direct from Brad Anderson, Corporate Vice President, Windows Server & System Center. You’ll find some great insights on topics like the Success with Hybrid Cloud series that looks at how organizations are taking advantage of hybrid cloud technologies across different industries and different scenarios. Or the 4-Part Building Clouds blog series: Automating Hybrid Clouds with Windows Azure and PowerShell for some great examples of PowerShell Scripts to Automate the Hybrid.

Road to the Cloud: Business strategy and networking event for ISVs

Register today, seats are limited! Business leaders of independent software vendor (ISV) organizations face increasing challenges and opportunities in today’s software market. Many companies are now evaluating software as a service to replace their legacy software. Join this event to hear from leaders of successful software businesses about strategy including best practices and lessons learned.

Download the new Virtual Machines Readiness Assessment tool

Wondering if your environment is ready to move to the cloud? The Virtual Machines Readiness Assessment tool will provide you with a detailed report and checklist with steps you can take to move to the cloud with confidence. Download now.

New features for Windows Azure Websites – WebJobs, staged deployment, high resolution metrics

Schedule scripts and tasks to run automatically, set up multiple staging/publishing environments with staged deployment and utilize high resolution metrics to monitor your site with down-to-the-minute precision. Learn more about how to use the WebJobs feature. Read Scott Guthrie’s blog post “Windows Azure: Staging Publishing Support for Websites, Monitoring Improvements, Site Recovery GA, and PCI Compliance”. Or view the blog post on “New High Resolution Site Metrics for Windows Azure Websites” from Byron Tardif.

WordPress 3.8 now available in the Windows Azure Websites marketplace

WordPress 3.8, codenamed "Parker" is a much sought after improvement over previous versions of WordPress. It offers fresh and modern design, new vector based icons that scale well on all platforms, and improved themes and widget management. This blog post describes the new version in detail.

Getting acquainted with Windows Azure…easier than ever!

Windows Azure and it’s multitude of services is growing at an astonishing rate, and while Azure’s websites and blogs offer plenty of documentation and info, many customers have expressed a desire for more. In this blog post by Erez Benari from the Azure PM team, we have collected some of the most useful and extensive resources available.

Delivering Results – How PoliticalTracker uses Windows Azure

PoliticalTracker.com, a BizSpark start-up, discusses on TechNet radio their decision process for choosing Microsoft technologies in their daily operations. Watch as they walk us through a bevy of real world scenarios in which they use Windows Azure, Office 365, Windows Server, SQL Server, Visual Studio and Skype.

Windows Azure IaaS Quick Start Kit - Sample PowerShell Session

Watch this final episode of the three part series with Yung Chou, featuring the Windows Azure IaaS Quick Start Kit which allows you to quickly and easily deploy multiple Windows Azure Virtual Machines to the cloud with the help of PowerShell. If you missed previous episodes, watch Part 1 and Part 2.

Spend the day with Windows Azure

Join a Microsoft Developer Camp and learn critical skills all modern developers need to know. Available in select cities, these free, one-day instructor-led workshops let you roll up your sleeves and get hands-on with Microsoft’s latest development tools and technologies.

Connect with devices using Windows Azure

With the growth of devices and the Internet of Things (IoT), mobile apps present a huge opportunity. Windows Azure provides a variety of services, from a Mobile Services turnkey app backend to Notification Hubs with high-volume and low latency from any existing app backend. Head to Microsoft Virtual Academy (MVA) to watch session recordings on demand, including Notification Hubs Deep Dive, Consumer Mobile Apps that Scale, Building Secure Mobile Apps in the Enterprise, and Using Windows Azure for M2M and IoT.

Partners

"We're excited about Engine Yard running on Windows Azure because now we have a powerful combination of a commercial-grade platform and an enterprise-ready infrastructure provider. We’re working on delivering services that solve the challenges of storing protected health information related to HIPAA requirements, and the Engine Yard and Microsoft alliance gives us a solution that no other provider offers."
—Phil Misiowiec, Webficient Founder

Engine Yard and Windows Azure enable developers to use open source solutions securely, within an enterprise-grade infrastructure. Deep expertise and support are provided across a range of services including application deployment, analysis and scaling.

"Windows Azure is helping us break down barriers to work with more partners, reach more customers, and compete on whole new levels."
—Dan Buckley, Senior Director of IT, RadioShack

Pariveda Solutions, 2013 Microsoft Azure Circle Partner of the Year Award, U.S. Central Region, understands how a well-defined strategy helps build the right cloud solution that scales efficiently, operates reliably and minimizes the time and effort required to maintain underlying infrastructure; and is, ultimately, a solution that brings lasting value to your organization.

Success Stories

Lufthansa Systems cuts data recovery time from minutes to seconds with Cloud solution

"We chose Microsoft technology because no one else can deliver a complete solution. We save the time, money, and hassles of integrating various pieces."
—Bardo Werum, Senior Vice President Infrastructure

As its business grows, Lufthansa Systems wants to anticipate customer needs for high-availability and disaster-recovery solutions. To meet this goal, it plans to adopt Microsoft SQL Server 2014 and Windows Azure. In a successful pilot, the Microsoft technology led to even faster and fuller data recovery, reduced costs, and the potential for a vastly increased focus on customer service and solutions when compared with the company’s current solutions.

Business software firm gives customers online and offline capabilities with Cloud

"Windows Azure SQL Database gave us the flexibility we need to provide online capability alongside offline capability. Clients who work on the desktop can now connect with the cloud to access and update current business data including bank transactions."
—Simon Raik-Allen, Chief Technology Officer, MYOB

MYOB, the leading provider of business software in Australia and New Zealand, wanted to offer its flagship accounting solution both on and offline. The company decided to switch to a cloud delivery system based on the Windows Azure platform. As a result, it can more easily meet diverse business needs, provide better access to data for tens of thousands of clients, and accelerate innovation with easier development and faster time-to-market.