Windows Azure Platform News Digest, October 2013


    As part of this digest of news on the Windows Azure cloud platform , the main announcements for developers, IT professionals and all professionals interested in cloud technologies and the Windows Azure platform are collected.

    In this issue:

    • Commercial Availability of Windows Azure Backup Cloud Backup Service
    • Commercial availability of Windows Azure HDInsight (Hadoop clusters as a service)
    • Public preview of the new Hyper-V Recovery Manager service
    • New features for working with virtual machines:
      • Removing disks;
      • New availability group notifications
      • Configuring SQL Server AlwaysOn;
    • New Active Directory features:
      • Integration and management of hundreds of third-party SaaS applications;
      • Manage Windows Azure
    • Windows Azure support in SQL Server 2014 CTP2;
    • Windows Server 2012 Support
    • Windows Azure SDK 2.2
      • Support for Visual Studio 2013;
      • Remote debugging of cloud services;
      • Partitioning Windows Azure Service Bus entities;
      • New Windows Azure Management Libraries for .NET;
      • New PowerShell scripts and the new ScriptCenter portal;
    • Decrease in prices for large memory VMs
    • Cloud OS Summit Preliminary Program Published

    Windows Azure Backup cloud backup service available for commercial use

    The service for backing up data to the Windows Azure cloud has left the preview stage and is available for wide public use.

    Windows Azure Backup is a cloud-based solution for Windows Server that allows you to back up and restore files and folders to the cloud, providing built-in protection against data loss. The service offers IT administrators and developers the ability to backup and protect critical data and an easy way to restore it from anywhere and without the cost of hardware.

    Details ...

    Commercial Availability of Windows Azure HDInsight

    Service WIndows Azure HDInsight , which represents 100% implementation Apache Hadoop platform cloud launched into commercial operation. Before that, the service was available for about a year as a preliminary version.

    The HDInsight cloud service offers the following benefits:

    • Deep integration with Microsoft’s familiar business intelligence tools: PowerPivot, Power View, Power Query, Power Map, and Excel.
    • additional flexibility, which is achieved using a rich set of PowerShell scripts that allow you to deploy a Hadoop cluster in the cloud in minutes on demand, instead of waiting for hours or days to create on your own infrastructure;
    • Support for corporate security and manageability standards. Thanks to Secure Node, HDInsight enables you to secure your Hadoop cluster;
    • rich opportunities for developers on the platforms .NET, Java and others with the support of powerful tools, for example, LINQ to Hive.

    Details ...

    Public preview of the new Hyper-V Recovery Manager service

    Windows Azure Hyper-V Recovery Manager is a new platform service that helps protect critical services of your business through coordination of replication and recovery of private clouds built on the basis of System Center Virtual Machine Manager in a secondary location. Offering automatic protection, asynchronous replication, and recovery order, the Hyper-V Recovery Manager service will help you accurately, consistently, and with minimal downtime, implement Disaster Recovery and restore critical services.

    Details of the service on Scott Guthrie's blog ...

    New opportunities for working with virtual machines

    Over the past month, several new functions for working with virtual machines have appeared.

    The ability to delete a VM instance and an attached drive in one operation . Previously, after removing the virtual machine, you had to manually delete disks from the storage. Now you can remove the virtual machine and mapped drives from storage in one operation. In addition, when deleting a cloud service, you can delete all virtual machines and their disks that are associated with the deleted service.


    Availability group alerts. Now users of the Windows Azure portal will be notified that there is only one virtual machine in the availability group that they create. This will make sure that your solution works in high availability mode and matches the SLA provided.


    Configuring SQL Server AlwaysOn. Previously, to configure SQL Server to work with AlwaysOn, after placing the virtual machine, you had to run a PowerShell script yourself to enable the Direct Server Return endpoints. With the latest update, Windows Azure users are offered the opportunity to indicate the need to enable Direct Server Return endpoints during the virtual machine deployment phase, which automates the process and eliminates manual configuration.


    New Active Directory Features

    Integration with third-party Application Access Enhancements . The Windows Azure Application Access Enhancements subsystem allows implementing Single Sign On (SSO) scenarios for several hundred (at the time of writing 227) third-party services and applications, including such popular ones as Office 365, SalesForce, Workday, Box, Google Apps, GitHub and others.


    The Windows Azure Application Access Enhancements service offers the following features:

    • organization of single sign-on for all services and applications from the gallery;
    • access control for integrated applications;
    • managing users who may or may not access applications;
    • safety and audit reporting;
    • standard panel for accessing applications from anywhere and with the support of any device.

    The great news is that this functionality is available to Windows Azure users for free! Find out more in this article .

    Active Directory enhancements for working with Windows Azure . With the latest update, Windows Azure Active Directory is even more closely integrated with users of the platform:

    • all user accounts now have a default Active Directory;
    • users can use the directory to store user accounts in the cloud or synchronize their company's Windows Server Active Directory with the cloud. Both options are free for users;
    • The Windows Azure Service Management API methodset has been updated with new features to support connectivity using WAAD credentials. Previously, to manage resources through the API, it was required to download and specify a certificate. From now on, users can choose the access method: by certificate or through accounts;
    • the updated Windows Azure SDK 2.2 contains built-in support for new Service Management API features and allows you to manage Windows Azure resources from Visual Studio through WAAD accounts.

    Details of these updates can be found on Scott Guthrie's blog .

    Windows Azure Support in SQL Server 2014 CTP2

    In October , the next preliminary version of SQL Server 2014 CTP2 was released for database developers . In addition to other innovations, a deeper integration of SQL Server backup mechanisms with Windows Azure was announced in this version .

    New features include:

    • Support for backup and recovery in Windows Azure directly from SQL Server Management Studio;
    • SQL Server backup compatibility in Windows Azure Storage
    • encryption of backups before placing them in the cloud;
    • SQL Server Backup to Windows Azure Tool to support backup features for previous versions of SQL Server.

    All of these new products can be found in the official announcement and review for developers .

    Windows Server 2012 Support

    With the release of the new version of the server operating system Windows Server 2012 R2, many specialists want to test new system features. The good news is that you can do this without installing it on your local computer using virtual machines in the Windows Azure cloud.

    Just use the ready-made images in the virtual machine gallery in order to deploy a new server based on Windows Server 2012 R2 in a few minutes.

    Developers of cloud-based applications based on Windows Azure Cloud Services can also take advantage of the new OS, as well as the latest .NET 4.5.1 with the new version of “OS Family 4”.

    Details ...

    Windows Azure SDK 2.2 Availability

    Along with other updates to Windows Azure, the Windows Azure SDK 2.2 for Developers toolkit was also updated, which received the following updates:

    Support for Visual Studio 2013 . Full support and integration with the new version of the Visual Studio 2013 development environment, which includes:

    • Connect to managing Windows Azure resources from the development environment through Windows Azure Active Directory accounts;
    • Filtering and managing subscriptions available for management from the development environment;
    • Managing SQL Server service firewall settings;

    Remote debugging of cloud services . Great news for developers - added the ability to remotely debug cloud solutions deployed in Windows Azure Cloud Services. Now when publishing the solution, you can set the remote debugging mode and use the Attach Debugger function in Server Explorer to connect from Visual Studio to a specific instance of the cloud service for remote debugging.


    Remote debugging will be available soon for Windows Azure Web Sites.

    Partitioning Windows Azure Service Bus entities . Another great new feature is the support for partitioned entities in Windows Azure Services Bus. Using this new functionality, developers can create and use queues and topics in sections of Service Bus divided into sections. Partitioning queues and topics allows you to achieve greater reliability and at the same time maximize message throughput.

    For more information on partitioning Windows Azue Services Bus queues and topics, see this announcement and this developer guide .

    New Windows Azure Management Libraries for .NET control library . With the release of the Windows Azure Management Libraries for .NET library set, developers can now manage cloud resources not through the open REST API, but using standard libraries and class sets. The new library set includes the following classes:

    • ManagementClient - location management, accounts, subscriptions, certificates;
    • ComputeManagementClient - management of cloud services, virtual machines, locations, images and disks of virtual machines;
    • StorageManagementClient - storage account management;
    • WebSiteManagementClient - management of websites, publication profiles, usage metrics, repositories;
    • VirtualNetworkManagementClient - virtual network and gateway management.

    The library is available as a preview version on Nuget . This library and all its classes, as well as other Windows Azure tools are available under the open Apache 2.0 license, you can find its source codes on GitHub .

    New PowerShell scripts and the new ScriptCenter portal. Along with updating the library of developers, the Windows Azure PowerShell 0.7.0 toolkit was updated , which allows you to automate Windows Azure resource management tasks through PowerShell scripts. The following functions were added in the new version of the library:

    • Support for access to Windows Azure through Windows Azure Active Directory accounts
    • New cmdlets for managing Media Services and SQL Database

    Together with updating the toolkit, the new ScriptCenter portal was opened , which offers many ready-made scripts for performing common, everyday and most common administrative tasks.

    Details ...

    Decrease in prices for large memory VMs

    Another great news on the Windows Azure platform was the announcement of lower prices for virtual machines with a large amount of RAM for both Windows and Linux deployments. The reduction reaches 22%, the comparative table is shown below: This significant price reduction will positively affect the cost of heavy cloud solutions that require large amounts of memory in one virtual machine (including SQL Server, Oracle, SharePoint, BizTalk Server, SaaS solutions, any Linux based solutions).


    Cloud OS Summit Preliminary Program Published

    In preparation for the largest cloud conference Microsoft Cloud OS * Summit , a preliminary report program has been formed . All conference reports are divided into 4 main sections:

    • Modern data center
    • Personal devices in the enterprise
    • Cloud Application Development Platform
    • Cloud infrastructure as a service - application scenarios

    Within these sections, you can hear reports from experts from Microsoft and our partners on the entire spectrum of the company's cloud products: from Windows Server and System Center, to Windows Azure, SQL Server and Visual Studio.

    Cloud OS Summit is the largest Microsoft cloud conference in Russia. The conference program will present the latest technologies designed to build modern data centers, integrate private and public clouds, involve all mobile devices in the company, effectively manage data and analyze them in the enterprise, and create modern business applications using the power of the public cloud .

    We will broadcast our cloud conference online, connect to us on November 27 in 10-00 GMT.

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