Microsoft Windows Azure new Features for 2011

A couple months ago, I wrote about what I Would Change about Microsoft Windows Azure.  At the their Professional Developer’s Conference (PDC) last week, Microsoft announced a number of new changes that made me, and I’m sure a lot of other Azure developers, happy.

The first change, is the ability to deploy multiple Web applications per role.  This is a big improvement for me because I have a number of applications that I would like to migrate to Azure.  None of my applications has a tremendous number of users, so this will make Azure much more cost-effective for my scenario.  This ability is enabled by allowing developers elevated privileges, and by giving them full access to the underlying version of IIS within a Web role.

The second change, is a new role type called the Virtual Machine (VM) Role.  This gives developers more control over the servers they deploy by allowing them to create their own virtual machines and upload them to the Azure cloud.  This has pros and cons.  It’s good to have the control.  However, the developer is now responsible for administering the server.  Administration of updates and patches is automated if you use the default Azure virtual machine.

The third change is support for remote desktop to Windows Azure servers.  The VM Role plus remote desktop makes creating and administering Windows Azure servers very similar to that of Amazon EC2.

The fourth change is the new Extra-Small instance size that costs about as much as Amazon EC2’s Micro Instances.  Microsoft also announced new packages for developers;  this will make learning and developing for Windows Azure less expensive.

There are other new features of Microsoft Windows Azure and SQL Azure in store for the near future.  To learn about how to develop for the Windows Azure platform come to Learning Tree course 2602: Windows Azure Platform Introduction: Programming Cloud-Based Applications.


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