Newsletter September 2014


Price reduction on select Azure services

As many businesses continue their journey to the cloud, they are increasingly using a variety of services to build their solutions. We’ve announced price reductions for a range of Microsoft Azure services when purchased through our website, effective October 1, 2014. With this change, we’re making it more cost effective to build complete solutions on Azure, leveraging the full breadth of our technologies. For a comprehensive look at the changes, please visit the Azure website.

New SQL Database tiers now generally available

Now SQL Database Basic, Standard, and Premium tiers all deliver enterprise-class features and predictable performance across seven levels of operation, from lightweight to heavyweight transactional application demands. Customers using these tiers also enjoy a service-level agreement (SLA) for 99.99 percent uptime—among the highest for Azure services—as well as hourly billing for greater flexibility and budget management, plus reduced prices (up to 50 percent off previously published, generally available pricing). For more information about the new service tiers, please visit the Microsoft Data Platform Insider Blog.

Azure Redis Cache generally available

Azure Redis Cache is a distributed, in-memory, managed cache that helps you build highly scalable and responsive applications by giving you fast access to your data. Based on open source Redis Cache, both Azure Redis Cache Basic and Standard tiers provide access to a secured, dedicated cache managed by Microsoft. For more information, visit the Azure Redis Cache webpage.

API Management now generally available

API Management, the application programming interface service that launched in public preview on May 12, 2014, is now generally available. We’ve included a few key updates to the service, including the REST API for the ability to automate API Management operations and to integrate API Management with other systems and processes. Plus we’ve enabled full backup and restore of API Management services, improving disaster recovery options and overall business continuity for our customers.

New SSD-based instances for VMs and Cloud Services

A new series of Standard tier instances called the D-series for virtual machines (VMs) and Cloud Services is now generally available. These instances have Solid State Disk (SSD)–based local drives and faster processors relative to many of the A-series instances. The D-series instances can be used as VMs, as well as Web or Worker roles in Cloud Services, and are well suited for applications that demand faster CPU performance, local disk performance, or greater memory. For more information, visit the Virtual Machines webpage.

Role-Based Access Control in public preview

Role-Based Access Control (RBAC) enables fine-grained control over who can manage what on every Azure service. Accessible on the Azure Preview portal, RBAC lets you grant explicit management/access rights to users and groups on subscription or service levels, and it’s provided to all Azure subscribers at no additional cost.

Live Streaming and Content Protection are in public preview

Now you can enjoy the same Live Streaming solution that helped deliver seamless coverage of the 2014 Winter Games and 2014 FIFA World Cup to broadcasters around the globe—available to you with the same levels of scalability, uptime, and reliability. To protect premium video content, we’ve also introduced a Content Protection feature that offers both static and dynamic encryption with a range of industry-standard encryption options, including PlayReady DRM and Clear Key Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) 128-bit. For more information, please visit the Media Services webpage.

Media Services Encoder and Indexer generally available

Media Services Encoder will be generally available starting on October 1, 2014, with charges based on the GB output processed by our media-encoding pipeline—a price reduction to benefit customers. Effective immediately, leverage Basic, Standard, and Premium Encoding Reserved Units at various price points and tailor your encoding speed to the specific requirements of your workflow. To increase the accessibility and discoverability of your audio and video files, Media Services Indexer is also generally available, allowing you to quickly index your media library. For more information, please visit the Media Services webpage.

Mobile Services .NET support generally available

Mobile Services .NET backend enables you to write your services using the power of the ASP.NET Web API and your favorite .NET language. It also lets you add a cloud-hosted backend to your mobile app and quickly light up functionality such as data storage, authentication, and scalable push notifications. For more information, check out the Microsoft Azure Blog.

Take a look at the new VM Gallery

It’s the place to access Microsoft and partner solutions configured to run on Azure virtual machines. Deploy with confidence, knowing that each solution has been vetted through Microsoft Azure Certified for Virtual Machines. Visit the VM Gallery to learn more.

Azure (IaaS) Cost Estimator tool available

To simplify the cloud cost estimation process, we’ve created the Azure (IaaS) Cost Estimator Tool. This tool profiles VMware ESX, Virtual Machine Manager, Hyper-V, and physical servers over a period of time and reports on resource consumption, aligning it to resources and VM sizes within Azure. Please note that this tool is only available for U.S. customers. For more information, read this blog post; to download, visit the Download Center.

Azure Resource Manager Tools preview

We’ve announced the public availability of the Azure Resource Manager Tools Preview for Visual Studio 2013. This preview enables you to create an application using the Azure Gallery templates, to create and edit Azure Resource Manager deployment templates and parameter files, and to create resource groups and deploy templates that help simplify the creation of resources. For more information, visit the Microsoft Azure Blog.

Migrate on-premise virtualized workloads using Azure Site Recovery

Azure Site Recovery not only offers a low-cost, high-capability, CAPEX-saving, and OPEX-optimizing disaster-recovery strategy for your IT infrastructure, it can help you quickly and easily spin off additional development and testing environments, plus migrate on-premises virtual machines to Azure. For organizations that are adopting the cloud as an important part of their IT strategy, Azure provides an open, broad, and flexible platform for application development using a broad set of operating systems, frameworks, and languages—from Windows to Linux, SQL Server to Oracle, or .NET to Java, PHP, Python, Ruby, Node.js, and Hadoop.

Azure expands into 51 additional countries

Now Azure is available for purchase in 51 additional countries and local pricing is available in five new currencies* (Brazilian Real, Hong Kong Dollar, Indian Rupee, Malaysian Ringgit, and Mexican Peso). Check out the full list of countries/regions where Azure is commercially available and the updated list of currencies that can be used to purchase it.
*Please note that settlement of charges in these new currencies may still be treated as an international transaction by your bank and you may be charged any associated fees.

Azure China launches new Pay-in-Advance offer

The Azure service in China, operated by 21Vianet, launched a new prepaid offer to the general public. On the Azure China website, customers can now purchase services such as VM, Web Sites, Media Services, and more, using Alipay or China UnionPay. Local new customers can also apply for an 1RMB Trial account that provides credits of up to 2,000 RMB to use on Azure services for up to a month. For details on the released features in China, please visit the Features site. We’ve also announced the first publicly available Hadoop service hosted in a datacenter in China. For more information, visit HDInsight.


TechEd Europe: Browse the content, plan your path

You won’t want to miss TechEd Europe 2014, where you’ll get hundreds of opportunities to expand your skills and grow your professional network. Learn about the latest Microsoft innovations in cloud computing and other essential technologies. Browse the Content Catalog and start building your schedule to create your own customized experience. Register today. We’ll see you in Barcelona from October 28 to 31, 2014!

Azure Websites - Site Extensions

Scott Hanselman of Azure Friday talks to Suwat Bodin, who explains Azure Websites Site Extensions. Together they create a simple site extension. Check out the video.

Free webinar: An Introduction to Azure Websites

Find out more about Azure Websites, one of our best-kept secrets. Azure Websites was designed to make building, deploying, and managing web applications and services easier than ever, and it brings true cloud power right into the hands of the developer. Features such as AutoScale, continuous delivery using Visual Studio Online and GitHub, staging slots, and advanced monitoring and management features deliver true DevOps capabilities to every developer. Register now for a live webinar on September 29, 2014, from 10:30 to 11:30 Pacific Time.

Ten ways to speed up your WordPress site on Azure Websites

Slow page load times can discourage users from visiting your website again, as well as reduce the visibility of your site in their search results. If you’re running a WordPress site, there are several things you can do to optimize its speed. Find out more in this blog post, which discusses 10 quick and easy ways to improve page load speed.

Building cloud apps with Azure WebJobs

If you’re building cloud apps on Azure Websites, backend processing is often an important component. The WebJobs feature (which recently went out of preview) includes an optional software development kit (SDK) and allows you to create backend processes easily and efficiently without provisioning additional servers or roles. Learn more in this blog post, which also offers some code samples.

Enabling command-line or continuous delivery of Azure WebJobs

When we designed the WebJobs feature for Visual Studio 2013 Update 3, we built it to accommodate improvements in the Azure API and Azure Management Libraries. We found a few areas where we could improve the WebJobs publishing story, and now we’ve released an update. This post summarizes the update, how we were able to release it so quickly right after an official Visual Studio update, and how you can reap the benefits and enable continuous integration or command-line publishes of Azure WebJobs.

Learn more about Media Services

Deliver any media on almost any device, virtually anywhere, with the power of the Azure cloud. Create end-to-end media workflows with flexible and highly scalable encoding, packaging, and distribution services by using Media Services. Securely upload, store, encode, and package video or audio content for both on-demand and live-streaming delivery to a wide array of TV, PC, and mobile device endpoints. Watch the video to learn more.

StorSimple video illustrates unique benefits of new 8000 series

This new StorSimple chalk-talk video describes the hybrid cloud storage solution so that it’s easy to understand, as well as how the recently announced StorSimple 8000 series arrays amplify the advantages of this rapidly growing category. To learn more, visit the StorSimple Hybrid Cloud Storage webpage or email StorSimple is available for Enterprise Agreement (EA) customers only.

Planning a hybrid cloud storage architecture

Continuing the TechNet Radio series, "Modernizing Your Infrastructure with Hybrid Cloud," this episode covers the many storage options available to your organization, as well as performance, reliability, and security.

The cloud: Enabling the next generation of datacenters

Learn how Microsoft IT is deploying new solutions and working hard to build a modern datacenter. Microsoft IT experts share the deployment journey and knowledge acquired along the way. For more information, visit the IT Pro Blog.

On-demand webinar: Build, Host, and Manage Enterprise-Ready APIs

Learn how to build, host, and manage the enterprise-ready APIs that power business applications with hybrid connections to on-premises systems using Azure Mobile and API Management services. View the webinar.

Have cloud computing questions? Dear Azure is here to help!

It’s not every day someone has the courage to challenge Dear Azure to a geek fight. Get your “Good Will Hunting” on and demolish some math.

Live webcast for Professional Direct and Premier Support customers

Join a live virtual webcast, "Orleans—A framework to simplify development of scalable cloud services" on October 14, 2014, at 09:00 Pacific Time. This one-hour session will include audience questions and answers. For further details, reach out to your Premier or ProDirect Service contacts, or send us an email. To learn more about Professional Direct and Premier Support offerings, visit the Azure Support Plans webpage.

Automate Linux VM customization tasks using the CustomScript extension

You might already be familiar with the CustomScript extension for Windows VM, but now the good news is that it’s also available for Linux VM. The CustomScript extension can run your scripts during or after provision time, as well as on any Azure-supported Linux VM. Learn more about the prerequisites and how to deploy this extension in this blog post.

Cloud Cover Tip of the Week: Kubernetes Visualizer

In this edition of Tip of the Week, Microsoft intern Michael Blouin comes to the studio to show off the Azure Kubernetes Visualizer, a project he completed with the team during the first Microsoft company-wide hackathon. The project visualizes pod/container management of a Kubernetes cluster running on Azure. Watch the video to learn more.

Corporate apps anywhere, anytime with Azure RemoteApp

RemoteApp combines the Windows application experience and powerful Remote Desktop Services (RDS) capabilities on the reliable Azure platform, helping you bring scale, agility, and global accessibility to corporate applications. Watch this on-demand course from Microsoft Virtual Academy (MVA) to learn more about scaling up or down to meet dynamic business needs without large capital expense or management complexity; how to provide access to corporate applications from virtually anywhere, on almost any device; and how to centralize and protect corporate resources on the reliable Azure platform.

Windows Azure Pack: Infrastructure as a Service Jump Start

IT pros, watch this Jump Start and learn about the self-service and automation of virtual machine roles, virtual networking, clouds, and SQL Server, along with System Center and third-party integration. Find out how to bring Azure technologies to your datacenter (on your hardware).

How to get started with Azure Backup

Azure Backup is a part of Azure Recovery Services and provides simple and reliable ways to manage and protect data for Azure in a secured and efficient setting. It offers bottomless storage and long-term retention in a cost-effective way, making it a good alternative to tape for offsite backup. To learn more about how to get started, read this blog post and visit the Azure Backup Overview webpage.

Data protection in depth

The new white paper “Protecting Data in Microsoft Azure” offers guidance on how to safeguard critical enterprise data in Azure, whether structured or unstructured, in transit, or at rest.

Can your servers and services be migrated to Azure?

This blog post walks you through the free VM Readiness Assessment tool to analyze your current on-premises Active Directory, SQL Server, and SharePoint Server services. The results provide detailed guidance on the readiness of these services for migration to Azure.


Developer builds applications 30 percent faster, helps customers expand business

10th Magnitude designs, builds, and operates custom software solutions in the cloud. When a customer needed to quickly and cost-effectively create a new online payment-processing application, 10th Magnitude relied on Azure to develop a cloud-based solution that uses Azure SQL Database to process transactions. With Azure, 10th Magnitude can develop solutions 30 percent faster, so its customers can save on IT costs and focus on expanding their businesses.

Learn more

Success Stories

Chinese car company puts IT systems in the cloud to create the ultimate connected car

“Car connectivity is the new battleground for product differentiation, and with Microsoft Azure, we can stay ahead of the competition.” —Maurits Aalberse, Director of Connected Services, Qoros Automotive

Read the full story

Skanska USA accelerates jobsite-monitoring innovation with cloud platform

“Using Microsoft Azure helps our business by allowing us access to near-real-time site data from a variety of devices.” —Darren Jones, IT Manager of Architecture and Development, Skanska USA

Read the full story

UK Retailer Uses Cloud Services to Quickly Scale Major TV and Social Media Campaigns

“We had a matter of weeks to get the ... website up and running, and knew that Microsoft Azure would provide us with the speed, scale, and elasticity that such an important campaign required.” —John Pillar, Head of Software Engineering, Marks & Spencer

Read the full story

Azure Store

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Featured services

" moved to Azure to push website changes at a very high velocity. We are talking website updates in minutes, and is the very definition of agility. With that comes the need for real-time monitoring. New Relic gives us a complete moment-by-moment picture of performance of the platform and application, and that holistic approach is simply invaluable. Selecting Azure Websites was a bet for our business, and New Relic’s help is essential for us to make sure it pays off." —Johnny Halife, CTO and Co-Founder,

New Relic was built to help cross-functional teams tackle the challenge of monitoring complex production software. Their Software as a Service (SaaS) platform means low overhead for you, keeping pace with the changing needs of production software teams in order to quickly roll out new features and enhancements. New Relic gives deep visibility into your apps and their performance, and it’s laser-focused on delivering robust and secure monitoring solutions—so you can focus on keeping your software fast, stable, and secure.

Visit the Azure Store page

New in Store

MyGet provides hosted NuGet feeds for individual developers, open source projects, and corporate development teams, so you can create feeds for your developers and clients using secured access.

Visit the Azure Store page

RavenHQ Database is a fully hosted, highly available, and secure RavenDB database service on Azure, featuring scalable plans, periodic backups, and email support.

Visit the Azure Store page