Beefing-up the Azure Platform

During PDC 2010 in Redmond, WA Microsoft announced a bunch of improvements to the whole Azure platform, some of them desperately needed:

  • Support for the new Virtual Machine role, in addition to the existing Web and Worker roles. This could allow PaaS scenarios, where you can build, configure and upload your own Windows Server 2008 R2 VMs as VHDs – quiet similar to the AWS model. (Great!!!) In addition, the pricing model for the Windows Azure VM role is the same as the existing pricing model for Web and Worker roles.
  • Enhancements to the Web and Worker roles: with the introduction of Elevated Privileges and Full IIS support!!! – so we now can have multiple IIS sites per Web role and the ability to install IIS modules. (Cool!!)
  • Windows Azure will also provide Remote Desktop functionality, which enables customers to connect to a running instance of their application or service in order to monitor activity and troubleshoot common problems. So basically your Azure computing instances are no longer black-boxes. (Finally!!!! OMG, I am going to cry…)
  • The introduction of an Extra Small Windows Azure instance – great!!, now you can configure an instance to run low-priority Worker Roles, or Admin apps without ruining your budget.
Compute Instance Size CPU Memory Instance Storage I/O Performance Cost per hour
Extra Small 1.0 GHz 768 MB 20 GB Low $0.05
  • A range of new networking functionality under the Windows Azure Virtual Network name was introduced. 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 this, your can establish VPN between your on-premises servers and your cloud machines. Much needed for some enterprise scenarios.
  • The Windows Azure portal will also be improved with SL technologies, and with access to new diagnostic information including the ability to click on a role to see type, and deployment time. (Finally, for god sake!!!)
  • A much needed update for the pretty basic Database Manager for SQL Azure (formerly “Project Houston”) was also announced.

Let’s wait these enhancements are released as soon as possible

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