SAN FRANCISCO – There are some big new features afoot for Microsoft Azure. As a part of the company’s Build developer conference, Microsoft announced a laundry list of new features for its cloud platform.
Scott Guthrie, Microsoft’s new head of cloud and enterprise, took the stage in San Francisco today to talk about new features that could help Microsoft’s cloud offering in its competition with Amazon Web Services and Google’s Cloud Platform. Guthrie said that more than 57 percent of the Fortune 500 companies are using Azure, and there are more than 250,000 web sites running on Azure.
With the new features unveiled today, developers will be able to create, destroy, manage and debug virtual machines on Azure straight from Visual Studio. That way, developers don’t have to step out of Microsoft’s development environment to work on cloud virtual machines, including addressing bugs on a virtual machine running in the cloud.
In addition, developers will be able to create an image from a VM with multiple data sources. That means developers can then provision a bunch of new virtual machines with the same data that they have running on their original source.
Web developers will be able to set up Azure Web Sites that can use Microsoft’s Autoscale and Traffic Manager capabilities to manage the load on their services. In addition, Azure Web Sites users will get one IP-based SSL certificate for free, to help them secure their site right out of the box at no additional cost.
Mobile developers will now have access to tools for Offline Data Sync, as well as remote debugging, and the ability to build mobile apps that take advantage of Active Directory on iOS and Android.
Big data users will be able to build SQL databases on Azure up to 500 GB in size, and Microsoft announced a new 99.95 percent uptime database service. SQL instances running on Azure are going to be protected by Microsoft’s new “self-service recovery” feature, which captures snapshots of a database that users can then restore from in the event of a service failure or an unfortunate accident that wipes out an entire database.
Microsoft has re-designed the Azure start page to feature a map that can show the status of the Azure services worldwide, so it’s easy to pinpoint why a service isn’t working. Users will also have access to a billing section that provides a detailed breakdown of how costly their services are, including a line-item breakdown of what services cost, which is exactly what will show up on users’ bills. The new portal also includes a built-in editor that allows users to directly edit a code base on Azure with syntax highlighting that can automatically commit code after users edit it.