• 2 min read

Sneak peek: A new Azure Cloud Console

We built an integrated workflow enabling users to build their applications on Azure using graphical and command line tools, even on devices where command line tools aren't installed.

For a while now, I have been passionate about containers and how they are revolutionizing and truly delivering the promise of cloud native computing. However, even as excited as I am about revolutionizing container compute with Azure, I’m equally passionate about user interface.  After all, cloud computing is useless if it can’t be accessed from a useful interface.  So, today, I’m excited to show you how we’re bringing these passions together in the new cloud console for the Azure portal.

Traditional cloud user interfaces have been divided into either a web-based graphical interface or a command line terminal interface. Each of these interfaces provide their utility and different users prefer different interfaces for different tasks. However, most Azure users use both interfaces to manage their applications on Azure.  Much like developing code before integrated development environments like Visual Studio or Visual Studio Code, switching between these interfaces requires switching between applications, a context switch that slows users and makes it harder to accomplish their goals.  In some cases, (for example tablets and other mobile devices) a terminal interface may not even be available and a user may have to switch devices.

To address these needs, we built an integrated workflow enabling users to build their applications on Azure using graphical and command line tools, even on devices where command line tools aren't installed. Today, we're giving you a sneak peek of this new cloud shell experience that we are adding into the Azure portal. As you can see from the video below, the shell is integrated into the portal so users can quickly drop into a command line experience while simultaneously viewing their cloud resources in the graphical web interface.

Using Azure Cloud Console to deploy a VM


Using Azure Cloud Console with GIT


The key features of this experience are:

  • Automatic authentication to the command line tools from your existing web login
  • All Azure command line tools, as well as relevant command line utilities pre-installed
  • Personalized, persistent workspace that preserves your code, configuration and activity across cloud shell sessions.

With a single click, you are dropped into a terminal command line tools pre-configured with your existing Azure credentials.  This terminal is a fully featured experience featuring not only the Azure command line tools, but also standard editors and tools you would expect.  Further, the cloud shell preserves context for you. When you save files to disk, they are persisted in Azure’s cloud so you can resume where you left off in your next cloud shell session, even if you are on a different device or network.

So how does the cloud console relate to containers? Well, the shell itself is packaged as a container to provide a clean, consistent interface every time you launch a new session.  Of course this is based on the container we've already built for the Azure 2.0 command line tool. You can use today on your own machine with:

$ docker run -v ${HOME}:/root -it azuresdk/azure-cli-python:latest

Going forward, we're looking for a few hardy souls who are willing to test and provide feedback on this new console experience as we bring it to general availability over the next few months. If you are interested, please sign up and we'll be in touch!

I'm super excited about how containers are revolutionizing compute on Azure, and especially excited about how we ourselves can use container technology to offer new, integrated interfaces for developing your applications on the Azure cloud.