Newsletter May 2014

Announcements

Spotlight on TechEd 2014

Thanks for joining us at TechEd. If you missed it, you can still experience many of the TechEd sessions. Watch highlights on Channel 9, including:

ExpressRoute now generally available

Create private, high-throughput connections between Azure data centers and your existing infrastructure, whether it's on-premises or in a colocation environment, with Azure ExpressRoute. Because connections don't go over the public internet, you'll get more reliability, faster speeds, lower latencies, and higher security than typical connections. The service also offers a strong 99.9 percent connection uptime, two new bandwidth tiers (200 Mbps and 500 Mbps) for the Exchange Provider scenario, and much more. Visit the ExpressRoute website for details.

Virtual Network enhancements now generally available

The two most requested Azure Virtual Network features are now generally available: Multiple Site-to-Site and VNET-to-VNET connectivity. Virtual Network supports more than one site-to-site connection. This means that you can connect multiple on-premises locations with a virtual network (VNET) in Azure. With VNET-to-VNET connectivity, multiple virtual networks can be directly connected with one another. Using this feature, you can connect virtual networks that are running in different Azure regions and have traffic routed via the Azure backbone. Visit the Virtual Network website for more information.

Virtual Machines A8 and A9 instances now generally available

Azure Virtual Machines A8 and A9 compute-intensive instances provide faster processors, faster interconnectivity, more virtual cores for higher computing power, and larger amounts of memory. A8 instances (8 virtual cores and 56 GB of RAM) and A9 instances (16 virtual cores and 112 GB of RAM) also include a 40-Gbit/s InfiniBand network that provides remote direct memory access (RDMA) technology for the maximum efficiency of parallel Message Passing Interface (MPI) applications. Customers can run compute-intensive and network-intensive applications such as high-performance cluster applications and applications that use modeling, simulation and analysis, video encoding, and so on. For more information, visit the Virtual Machines website.

VIP reservation now generally available; Virtual Machines instance-level public IPs in preview

You can now reserve public IP addresses and use them as virtual IP (VIP) addresses for your applications. This enables scenarios where your applications need to have static public IP addresses or where you need to update your applications by swapping the reserved IP addresses. Reserve up to five addresses per subscription at no additional cost and assign them to the Azure Cloud Services of your choice. In addition, you can now assign public IP addresses to your virtual machines, so they become directly addressable without having to map an endpoint to access them directly. For more information about VIP reservation, visit the Reserved IP Addresses website.

Import/Export service now generally available

Azure Import/Export is an easy way to transport large amounts of data from your hard drives to Azure. The task can be completed by using the Microsoft high-speed, security-enabled internal network to transfer the data to our datacenter. To get started with Import/Export, follow these instructions.

Managed Cache Service now generally available

Azure Managed Cache Service gives you access to a security-enabled, dedicated cache that's managed by Microsoft. It provides high performance and great features, and is easy to use in your cloud applications. A cache created using Azure Cache Service is accessible from any application within Azure that's running on Azure Web Sites, Cloud Services, or Virtual Machines. For more information, visit the Microsoft Azure Cache website.

Redis Cache service now in public preview

Azure Redis Cache is a distributed, in-memory, managed cache that helps you build highly scalable and responsive applications by providing super-fast access to your data. Azure Redis Cache is based on the popular open-source Redis. It gives you access to a security-enabled, dedicated Redis cache that's managed by Microsoft. A cache created using Azure Redis Cache is accessible from any application within Azure. Azure Redis Cache is available via the new Azure Preview portal.

Traffic Manager supports external endpoints

Azure Traffic Manager now supports both Azure endpoints and external endpoints. Traffic Manager enables you to control the distribution of user traffic to your specified endpoints. With support for endpoints that reside outside Azure, you can now build highly available applications in Azure and on-premises. You can apply intelligent traffic management policies across all managed endpoints. For more information, visit the Traffic Manager website.

Azure RemoteApp now in preview

Azure RemoteApp delivers Windows Server session–based applications from Azure, enabling users to access corporate applications from anywhere, on a variety of devices. Azure RemoteApp is a protected, cost-effective application delivery solution that scales quickly to meet changing business needs. For more information, visit the Azure RemoteApp website.

API Management now in preview

Azure API Management enables organizations to publish APIs to developers, partners, and employees more securely and at scale. Organizations can use API Management to monetize a core product, transform it into a platform, and create new content distribution channels. By adopting a robust API program, organizations can reach more customers through new channels, accelerate API adoption, open and modernize enterprise systems, and convert analytics and reporting into results. Visit the API Management website for more details.

Internal Load Balancing now in preview

Looking to load balance Azure virtual machines (VMs) with private IP addresses? Azure Internal Load Balancing is now in preview. The internally load balanced endpoint is accessible only within a virtual network (if the VM is within a virtual network) or within a cloud service (if the VM isn't within a virtual network). Internal Load Balancing is useful when you're creating multi-tier applications in which some of the application tiers aren't public facing but require load-balancing functionality. Internal Load Balancing is available in the Virtual Machines standard tier at no additional cost. For more information, visit the Internal load balancing website.

Azure Files now in preview

Azure Files enables virtual machines in an Azure datacenter to mount a shared file system using the Server Message Block (SMB) protocol. These VMs are then able to access the file system using standard Windows file APIs (CreateFile, ReadFile, WriteFile, and so on). Many VMs (or platform-as-a-service roles) can attach to these file systems concurrently, so you can share persistent data easily between various roles and instances. In addition to accessing your files through the Windows file APIs, you can access your data using the REST API, which is similar to the familiar Blob service interface. For more information, visit the Azure Files website.

BizTalk Hybrid Services for Azure Web Sites now in preview

With no custom code required, Azure BizTalk Hybrid Services enables you to connect to any on-premises TCP or HTTP resource—such as Microsoft SQL Server, MySQL, or any web service—from Azure Web Sites. For more information, visit the Azure BizTalk Hybrid Services website.

Priority support plans now available from the providers of top Linux distributions

If you're running Linux in Azure Virtual Machines and purchased Azure support, you can take advantage of these plans by deploying the associated image in the Azure image gallery. Requests for support are routed through the regular, paid Azure support channels to determine whether the issue is related to the infrastructure or the operating system. If the issue is related to the operating system, the request is transitioned to the appropriate Linux provider's support process. For more information, visit the Linux Support Plans website.

More Azure Active Directory Premium enhancements in preview

More features for Azure Active Directory Premium are in preview: a new version of the DirSync tool, which enables a self-service password reset with write-back to on-premises directories; Azure AD Sync, which enables multi-forest Active Directory environments and non-Microsoft directories to be synchronized; and Azure Multi-Factor Authentication IP whitelisting. Also announced: Cloud App Discovery, which provides IT department visibility into all the cloud apps in use within their organization. Learn more about all the new features at the Active Directory Team Blog. And try out Cloud App Discovery.

BizTalk Server 2013 R2 now available

The release of Microsoft BizTalk Server 2013 R2, announced at TechEd, will enable customers to take advantage of the latest integration platform capabilities from Microsoft and accelerate solutions for vertical industries including healthcare and financial services. For more information, visit the Microsoft integration - featuring BizTalk webpage.

Azure Web Sites is taking over the world

Global presence is on everyone's mind, and so we've been working diligently on expanding Azure Web Sites to additional regions. Several months ago we added Japan to the list, and more recently we added Southeast Asia. In addition, South Brazil is now available in preview, making Azure Web Sites available in 10 regions.

Use Hosting Plans to easily manage your Azure Web Sites

Many Azure Web Sites customers take advantage of our friendly pricing and run a large number of sites, but when you have so many, management can be a challenge. To make things easier, we recently introduced a new concept: web hosting plans. Using web hosting plans, you can group several web sites together as one administrative unit, and manage them together. For example, a customer can group several sites that require autoscaling and group other sites separately. That way, changing the settings can be done in a single action rather than for individual sites. For more information, visit this blog post.

Learning

Azure Friday and the new Azure Portal

We are very excited about the new Azure Portal. Hope you feel the same. Azure expert Vishal Joshi gives Azure Friday's Scott Hanselman a tour of the new Azure Portal and talks about blades, hubs, journeys, lenses, and more. Watch the video.

Everything you wanted to know about cloud computing, but were afraid to ask!

Living on planet Alderaan and need to convince the emperor that your IT operations would be more efficient and cost effective on Azure? Dear Azure answers your cloud questions in a way forums can only dream of. Have a question on moving your app to the cloud? Looking for options to autoscale your app? Wondering about migrating that massive database of yours to the cloud? Answers to these and many more questions are featured on DearAzure.com. So go ahead, ask away!

Manage your site on Azure Web Sites with the comfort of single sign-on

If you like getting up close and personal with managing your computing resources, you'll be happy to know that Azure Web Sites comes with some useful online tools for site management and administration. These tools are part of your site's Site Control Management (SCM) dashboard, which you can access by modifying the site URL to include .scm after the site name (for example, //example.azurewebsites.net/ becomes //example.scm.azurewebsites.net/). For more info about SCM and what you can do with it, visit this post.

Azure Store expands to enterprise customers

Direct Enterprise Agreement (EA) customers and channel partners can now purchase a variety of application and data services from third-party sellers through the Azure Store and have these subscriptions conveniently billed through their EA. Read the full announcement here.

Easy Web Site Backup with WebJobs

Learn about Web Site Backup, including how to build a simple WebJob that will clean up your old web site backup files on a regular basis, in this Simple Web Site Backup Retention Policy with WebJobs blog post.

How to automate VM customization tasks

Want useful tips on automating VM customization? Find out how the Custom Script Extension can automatically download scripts and files from Azure Storage and launch a PowerShell script on the VM, which in turn can install additional software components. And just like with any other VM Extension, this can be added during VM creation or after the VM has been running. Simple yet very useful! Read the Automating VM Customization Tasks Using Custom Script Extension blog post.

Taking the mystery out of Custom Data and Cloud-Init on Azure

Interested in learning more about the ins and outs of Custom Data and Cloud-Init? This blog post by Stephen Zarkos explains the basics.

More about Heartbleed and Microsoft Azure

Are you wondering about how the Heartbleed vulnerability affects Microsoft offerings, specifically Azure? Worry no more. Read the Information on Microsoft Azure and Heartbleed blog post and get the facts.

What you need to know about load balancing

Wondering what you need to know about Azure load balancing? The Microsoft Azure Load Balancing Services blog post walks you through the basics including explaining the service, support issues, automatic reconfiguration, service monitoring, and more.

Series: Accelerating DevOps with the Cloud Using Microsoft Azure and Friends

Check out this new series of articles that walk through real-life examples of how to use cloud technologies such as Azure and Visual Studio Online that encourage a DevOps mission within an organization. Start your Azure trial and follow along with the articles' step-by-step instructions.

Register for TechEd Europe 2014 and save!

Register now for TechEd Europe 2014, the premier Microsoft conference for IT pros and developers. Take advantage of a broad range of learning opportunities on the latest Microsoft technologies, tools, platforms, and services. Connect with industry experts and peers October 28–31 in Barcelona, Spain. Register by July 7 to save €300.

Partners

"AppDynamics simple installation process and intuitive user interface made it a great fit for monitoring our Microsoft Azure application. With AppDynamics, we were up and running in a matter of minutes."
–Louis Ormond, Product and Services Planning Director, Toshiba America Business Solutions

AppDynamics is a leading application performance management solution for modern applications in both the cloud and the datacenter. AppDynamics helps organizations rapidly troubleshoot, diagnose, and scale their apps in Azure.

"KenCloud ERP solution powered by Microsoft Azure and built on Microsoft technologies has given us the unique edge to provide a blended ERP product solution that is enterprise-ready, scalable, and highly secure. It enables global redundancy of data and the ability to provide rich analytics and user experience on mobile, desktop, or the web."
–Pritam Pal, CEO, APAC

Swash Convergence provides software outsourcing and offshore software development services to global clients. Swash Convergence KenCloud™ blends a scalable, affordable, secured, fully integrated cloud ERP solution through a mobile, web, and desktop-based experience with Microsoft Azure.

Success Stories

Movie streaming business uses cloud service to save millions of dollars and scale quickly

"If we need to encode a whole stack of new movies at once or convert our entire movie and TV library to a new format, we just have Microsoft Azure do the work for us."
–Jon Robinson, Group Head of IT

blinkbox is a UK movie and TV streaming service that is enjoying terrific growth. However, the company's London datacenter loomed as a barrier to future growth. To quickly and cost-effectively gain access to the prodigious amounts of compute power and storage needed to perform video encoding, blinkbox moved to the cloud—specifically, Microsoft Azure.

Software provider eases use of product by offering Oracle-based application in the cloud

"Because we've moved our Oracle-based application to Microsoft Azure, our customers can deploy it much faster than they could by deploying an on-premises infrastructure, which requires a significant investment."
–Daniel Franz, Senior Solutions Manager for Vertical Markets

With a move to Microsoft Azure, Redknee removed the cost and deployment-time barrier for customers who wish to use its product. It can also provide nearly limitless scalability to utilities as their data volumes grow. With a cloud-based offering, Redknee can also more easily deploy its product in any part of the world.

Azure Store

Partner updates

The recently launched open-source SendGrid EventKit can help Azure customers configure their private endpoint and database to accept Event Webhook data from their SendGrid account. With this EventKit, you can access an easy-to-use interface to start managing and sorting your data. In addition, the SendGrid Event API is now available to SendGrid Bronze-level customers or higher.

MongoDB-as-a-service is now available in preview in the Azure Store. MongoDB, a leading NoSQL database, can help you build and deploy faster, with agility and freedom to scale. This fully managed, highly available service on Azure, running MongoDB Enterprise, includes replication, monitoring, and support.

Featured services

"VS Anywhere products reduce costs of specific development tasks by up to 70 percent in some scenarios. Using lean and clean workflows and collaboration features, distributed development teams reduce inefficiencies that slow them down. We are pleased to have expanded our proven solution to Microsoft Azure, to help customers reduce TCO and focus on growing their business."
–Jesus Salas, CEO, VS Anywhere

VS Anywhere is a fully integrated Visual Studio extension that lets distributed teams work as though sitting side by side. Concurrent editing, live code reviews, virtual pair programming, and collaboration and productivity tools like Web Workspace help improve knowledge transfer and speed development projects.

"Unlike some products that aim only to backup, Cloud Cellar makes it just as easy to restore the databases and storage you have to Azure. We created Cloud Cellar based on our own experiences building on the platform, and are excited to make our service available to the vast Azure developer community."
–Bilal Aslam, Co-founder Cloud Cellar

Cloud Cellar is a turnkey backup solution for Azure, including Web Sites, SQL Database, and Storage. It provides always-on business continuity for the most key IT resources, with customizable backup schedules, at-rest encryption, and API access.

New in Store

Datwendo Cloud Connector, an innovative software-as-a-service solution, interconnects cloud applications, syncs data, keeps thing simple, and boosts operations.

Redis Cloud offers a very scalable, highly available, fully managed, and top-performing Redis for developers on Azure.

Memcached Cloud is a highly available cache service, with a fast built-in storage engine, in-memory replication, and instant auto-failover.