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In addition to economic benefits, cloud computing provides greater agility in application development which translates into competitive advantage. We are delighted to see over 1,000 new Windows Azure subscriptions created every day and even more excited to see that half of our customers are using higher-value services to build new modern business applications. Today, we are excited to announce general availability and preview of several services that help developers better integrate applications, manage identity and enhance load balancing.

Windows Azure Active Directory

We are thrilled to announce the general availability of the free offering of Windows Azure Active Directory.

As applications get increasingly cloud based, IT administrators are being challenged to implement single sign-on (SSO) against SaaS applications and ensure secure access. With Windows Azure Active Directory, it is easy to manage user access to hundreds of cloud SaaS applications like Office 365, Box, GoToMeeting, DropBox, and others. With these free application access enhancements you can:

  • Seamlessly enable single sign-on to many popular pre-integrated cloud apps for your users using the new application gallery on Windows Azure portal
  • Provision (and de-provision) your users’ identities into selected featured SaaS apps
  • Record unusual access patterns to your cloud-based applications via predefined security reports
  • Assign cloud-based applications to your users so they can launch them from a single web page, the Access Panel

These features are available at no cost to all Windows Azure subscribers. If you are already using application access enhancements in preview, you do not have to take any action. You will be automatically transitioned to the generally available service.

Windows Azure Active Directory Premium Offering

The Windows Azure Active Directory Premium offering is now available in public preview. Built on top of the free offering of Windows Azure Active Directory, it provides a robust set of capabilities to empower enterprises with more demanding needs on identity and access management.

In its first milestone, the premium offer enables group-based provisioning and access management to SaaS applications, customized access panel, and detailed machine learning-based security reports. Additionally, end-users can perform self-service password resets for cloud applications.

Windows Azure Active Directory Premium is free during the public preview period and will add additional cloud focused identity and access management capabilities in the future.

At the end of the free preview, the Premium offering will be converted to a paid service, with details on pricing being communicated at least 30 days prior to the end of the free period. 

We encourage you to sign up for Windows Azure Active Directory Premium public preview today.

Windows Azure Biz Talk Services

Windows Azure Biz Talk Services is now generally available. While customers continue to invest in cloud based applications, they need a scalable and reliable solution for extending their on-premises applications to the cloud. This cloud based integration service enables powerful business scenarios like supply chain, cloud-based electronic data interchange (EDI) and enterprise application integration (EAI), all with a familiar toolset and enterprise grade reliability.

If you are already using BizTalk Services in preview, you will be transitioned automatically to the generally available service and new pricing takes effect on January 1, 2014.

To learn more about the services and new pricing, visit the BizTalk Services website.

Windows Azure Traffic Manager

Windows Azure Traffic Manager service is now generally available. Leveraging the load balancing capabilities of this service, you can now create highly responsive and highly available production grade applications. Many customers like AccuWeather are already using Traffic Manager to boost performance and availability of their applications. We are also delighted to announce that Traffic Manager now carries a service level agreement of 99.99% and is supported through your existing Windows Azure support plan. We are also announcing new pricing for Traffic Manager. Free promotional pricing will remain in effect until December 31, 2013.

If you already are using Traffic Manager in preview, you do not have to take any action. You will be transitioned automatically to the generally available service, and the new pricing will take effect on January 1, 2014.

For more information on using Traffic Manager, please visit the Traffic Manager website. 

For further details on these services and other enhancements, visit Scott Guthrie’s blog.

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