• 4 min read

You spoke. We listened, and responded.

Today, at PDC 2010, we announced new Windows Azure functionality that will make it easier for customers to run existing Windows applications on Windows Azure, enable more affordable platform access…

Today, at PDC 2010, we announced new Windows Azure functionality that will make it easier for customers to run existing Windows applications on Windows Azure, enable more affordable platform access and improve the Windows Azure developer and IT Professional experience. This new Windows Azure functionality is driven by extensive customer and partner feedback collected through forums such as mygreatwindowsazureidea.com. We thank you for your valuable input over the past year and look forward to your continued feedback.

Improved Support for Enterprises

We are adding the following capabilities to Windows Azure in order to make it easier to integrate resources between the cloud and traditional IT systems, and provide better support for existing Windows applications.

  • Support for more types of new and existing Windows applications will soon be available with the introduction of the Virtual Machine (VM) role. Customers can move more existing applications to Windows Azure reducing the need to make costly code or deployment changes.
  • Development of more complete applications using Windows Azure is now possible with the introduction of Elevated Privileges and Full IIS. The new Elevated Privileges functionality for the Web and Worker role will provide developers with greater flexibility and control in developing, deploying and running cloud applications. The Web role will soon provide Full IIS functionality, which enables multiple IIS sites per Web role and the ability to install IIS modules.
  • Remote Desktop functionality enables customers to connect to a running instance of their application or service in order to monitor activity and troubleshoot common problems.
  • We’re also introducing a range of new networking functionality under the Windows Azure Virtual Network name. Windows Azure Connect (formerly Project Sydney), which enables a simple and easy-to-manage mechanism to setup IP-based network connectivity between on-premises and Windows Azure resources, is the first Virtual Network feature that we’ll be making available as a CTP later this year.

With the introduction of these enterprise-ready service enhancements, both enterprise customers and the systems integrators who support their businesses can use Windows Azure to extend and optimize their IT capabilities.

More Affordable Platform Access

Cost is one of the key drivers of cloud adoption, and Windows Azure will soon include an offering that provides access to compute instances at a substantially lower cost. This new ‘Extra Small’ Windows Azure Instance will provide developers with a cost-effective training and development environment. Developers can also use the ‘Extra Small’ instance to prototype cloud solutions at a lower cost. We are also announcing a new “Cloud Essentials Pack” offer that replaces our existing partner offers. This offer provide free access to the Windows Azure platform including 750 extra small instance hours and a SQL Azure database per month at no charge, and will be available to Microsoft Partner Network members beginning January 7, 2011.

Better Developer and IT Professional Experience
We heard that while you appreciated the reduced management burden that the cloud offers, you also place a high value on retaining the flexibility to see and control how your applications and services are running in the cloud. To address these needs, we are announcing the following developer and operator enhancements at PDC 10:

  • A completely redesigned Silverlight based Windows Azure portal to ensure an improved and intuitive user experience
  • Access to new diagnostic information including the ability to click on a role to see role type, deployment time and last reboot time
  • A new sign-up process that dramatically reduces the number of steps needed to sign up for Windows Azure.
  • New scenario based Windows Azure Platform forums to help answer questions and share knowledge more efficiently.

One of the most exciting things we’re announcing today is the new Windows Azure Marketplace, which is an online marketplace for you to share, buy and sell building block components, premium data sets, training and services needed to build Windows Azure platform applications. This is a great way to help you quickly create and monetize applications on Windows Azure. We are delivering the first section in the Windows Azure Marketplace, DataMarket, (formerly Microsoft Codename “Dallas”) which is now commercially available, and will enable you to leverage public data in your applications, creating richer experiences for your users. Already there are more than 35 data providers offering subscriptions on DataMarket. Visit the DataMarket (Dallas) blog for more information. A beta of the application section of the Windows Azure Marketplace will be available later this year.

With these investments, Windows Azure provides the broadest range of access and connection to the cloud, and a differentiated model for cross premises connectivity. We’re excited to continue working with you to build out the most comprehensive cloud platform on the market and appreciate the feedback you have provided thus far – keep that feedback coming! All the features above will be available to customers by the end of the calendar year 2010. The VM role and Extra Small instance will be available in Beta, while Windows Azure Connect will be available in CTP. All other features will be Generally Available by the end of the year. If you would like to be notified when these Windows Azure features are available, and when we’re accepting registrations for the VM role and Extra Small instance Beta as well as the Windows Azure Connect CTP, please click here.

Coming in CY2011

At PDC 10, we are also announcing that the following important features will be made available to customers in CY2011.

  • Dynamic Content Caching: With this new functionality, the Windows Azure CDN can be configured to cache content returned from a Windows Azure application.
  • CDN SSL Delivery: Users of the Windows Azure CDN will now have the capability to deliver content via encrypted channels with SSL/TLS.
  • Improved global connectivity: We will add new Windows Azure CDN nodes in the Middle East and improve existing connectivity in the US and Brazil.
  • Constructing VM role images in the cloud: We will enable developers and IT Professionals to build VM images for VM role directly in the cloud. This will be offered as an alternative to the current approach of building images on-premises and uploading them over the Internet.
  • Support for Windows Server 2003 and Windows Server 2008 SP2 in the VM role.
  • Improved Java Enablement: Microsoft plans to make Java a first-class citizen on Windows Azure. This process will involve improving Java performance, Eclipse tooling and client libraries for Windows Azure. Customers can choose the Java environment of their choice and run it on Windows Azure.

Since this year’s PDC is a fully virtualized event, there is much more guidance and information available to you online. To attend PDC 2010 virtually, please visit: https://www.microsoftpdc.com/.  For additional information about today’s news, check out the PDC Virtual Press Room.