Windows Azure 12/12/11 Announcement

windows_azure_smallEarlier yesterday, Microsoft announced a number of updates and improvements to Windows Azure that will help developers to more easily access Windows Azure and unlock the value of cloud computing as a development platform.

Additionally, today, senior Microsoft leaders will participate in a broadcast event: Learn Windows Azure to demonstrate how easy it is for developers to get started with Windows Azure and show how to build scalable cloud applications using Visual Studio.  The event includes a number of great hands-on demos as well.

In this release, we really focused on ease of use and creating more value for .NET developers as well as opening up new opportunities for open source developer to take advantage of Windows Azure.  Among the highlights:

  • New and Enhanced Open Source Software Experience-Windows Azure SDK for Node.JS makes Windows Azure a first-class environment for Node.JS developers that support hosting, storage, and service bus.
  • A new Hadoop Service Preview for Windows Azure brings Hadoop Big Data capabilities to Windows Azure and enables Hadoop apps to be deployed in hours instead of days.  To gain greater insights on data (structured, semi-structured and unstructured data), Hadoop on Windows Azure will enable customers to analyze data through familiar tools such as Excel and Microsoft BI tools such as Power View and PowerPivot.
  • Increased SQL Azure maximum database sizes in SQL Azure (at no additional cost) and a new sharding pattern to simplifies elastic scale-out.
  • Price reductions per gigabyte SQL Azure databases storage

You can find more details on the announcement here.


About one year ago, I was working with an ISV who wanted to migrate their commercial application to Windows Azure but was concerned that SQL Server database schema they relied on was not available in SQL Azure at the time.  With new SQL Azure sharding patterns, this partner’s concerns are being satisfied.  I’ll look forward to following with that partner and talking and showing off our new capabilities.

SQL Azure Announcements In PDC10

From SQL Azure blog:

Number of exciting new features related to SQL Azure which are designed to further build out our platform and reduce complexity in building and managing applications. pdclogoToday we are announcing.

  • SQL Azure Reporting CTP:  SQL Azure Reporting enables developers to enhance their applications by embedding cloud based reports on information stored in a SQL Azure database, thereby allowing the users of these applications to gain greater insight on their line of business data without having to worry about setting up machines or instances.  Developers can author reports using familiar SQL Server Reporting Services tools and then use these reports in their applications which may be on-premises or in the cloud.
  • SQL Azure Data Sync CTP 2:  At PDC we are also announcing an update to SQL Azure Data Sync to enable synchronization of entire databases or specific tables between on-premises SQL Server and SQL Azure,  giving customers greater flexibility in building solutions that span on-premises and the cloud. Customers can now synchronize SQL Azure databases across datacenters as well as with on-premises SQL Server.
  • Database manager for SQL Azure: As part of the Windows Azure platform developer portal refresh, we are announcing a new lightweight, web-based database management and querying capability for SQL Azure databases. This capability was formerly referred to as “Project Houston”, and allows customers to have a streamlined experience within the web browser without having to download any tools.
  • Customers can immediately register to get more information about the new capabilities here. Limited CTP programs of the new SQL Azure Reporting and Data Sync services will be available by the end of 2010. Invitations to participate and try out the services will be sent as we continue to build out capacity.

Complete List Of All The PDC 2010 Windows Azure Announcements

pdclogoNew announcements about Windows Azure at PDC 10. Read the full post at Windows Azure blog: 

Improved Support for EnterprisesWindowsAzure

We are adding the following capabilities to Windows Azure in order to make it easier to integrate resources between the cloud and traditional IT systems, and provide better support for existing Windows applications.

  • Support for more types of new and existing Windows applications will soon be available with the introduction of the Virtual Machine (VM) role. Customers can move more existing applications to Windows Azure reducing the need to make costly code or deployment changes.
  • Development of more complete applications using Windows Azure is now possible with the introduction of Elevated Privileges and Full IIS. The new Elevated Privileges functionality for the Web and Worker role will provide developers with greater flexibility and control in developing, deploying and running cloud applications. The Web role will soon provide Full IIS functionality, which enables multiple IIS sites per Web role and the ability to install IIS modules.
  • Remote Desktop functionality enables customers to connect to a running instance of their application or service in order to monitor activity and troubleshoot common problems.
  • We’re also introducing a range of new networking functionality under the Windows Azure Virtual Network name. 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 the introduction of these enterprise-ready service enhancements, both enterprise customers and the systems integrators who support their businesses can use Windows Azure to extend and optimize their IT capabilities.

More Affordable Platform Access

Cost is one of the key drivers of cloud adoption, and Windows Azure will soon include an offering that provides access to compute instances at a substantially lower cost. This new ‘Extra Small’ Windows Azure Instance will provide developers with a cost-effective training and development environment. Developers can also use the ‘Extra Small’ instance to prototype cloud solutions at a lower cost. We are also announcing a new "Cloud Essentials Pack" offer that replaces our existing partner offers. This offer provide free access to the Windows Azure platform including 750 extra small instance hours and a SQL Azure database per month at no charge, and will be available to Microsoft Partner Network members beginning January 7, 2011.

Better Developer and IT Professional Experience
We heard that while you appreciated the reduced management burden that the cloud offers, you also place a high value on retaining the flexibility to see and control how your applications and services are running in the cloud. To address these needs, we are announcing the following developer and operator enhancements at PDC 10:

  • A completely redesigned Silverlight based Windows Azure portal to ensure an improved and intuitive user experience
  • Access to new diagnostic information including the ability to click on a role to see role type, deployment time and last reboot time
  • A new sign-up process that dramatically reduces the number of steps needed to sign up for Windows Azure.
  • New scenario based Windows Azure Platform forums to help answer questions and share knowledge more efficiently.

One of the most exciting things we’re announcing today is the new Windows Azure Marketplace, which is an online marketplace for you to share, buy and sell building block components, premium data sets, training and services needed to build Windows Azure platform applications. This is a great way to help you quickly create and monetize applications on Windows Azure. We are delivering the first section in the Windows Azure Marketplace, DataMarket, (formerly Microsoft Codename "Dallas") which is now commercially available, and will enable you to leverage public data in your applications, creating richer experiences for your users. Already there are more than 35 data providers offering subscriptions on DataMarket. Visit the DataMarket (Dallas) blog for more information. A beta of the application section of the Windows Azure Marketplace will be available later this year.

With these investments, Windows Azure provides the broadest range of access and connection to the cloud, and a differentiated model for cross premises connectivity. We’re excited to continue working with you to build out the most comprehensive cloud platform on the market and appreciate the feedback you have provided thus far – keep that feedback coming! All the features above will be available to customers by the end of the calendar year 2010. The VM role and Extra Small instance will be available in Beta, while Windows Azure Connect will be available in CTP. All other features will be Generally Available by the end of the year. If you would like to be notified when these Windows Azure features are available, and when we’re accepting registrations for the VM role and Extra Small instance Beta as well as the Windows Azure Connect CTP, please click here.

Coming in CY2011

At PDC 10, we are also announcing that the following important features will be made available to customers in CY2011.

  • Dynamic Content Caching: With this new functionality, the Windows Azure CDN can be configured to cache content returned from a Windows Azure application.
  • CDN SSL Delivery: Users of the Windows Azure CDN will now have the capability to deliver content via encrypted channels with SSL/TLS.
  • Improved global connectivity: We will add new Windows Azure CDN nodes in the Middle East and improve existing connectivity in the US and Brazil.
  • Constructing VM role images in the cloud: We will enable dev
    elopers and IT Professionals to build VM images for VM role directly in the cloud. This will be offered as an alternative to the current approach of building images on-premises and uploading them over the Internet.
  • Support for Windows Server 2003 and Windows Server 2008 SP2 in the VM role.
  • Improved Java Enablement: Microsoft plans to make Java a first-class citizen on Windows Azure. This process will involve improving Java performance, Eclipse tooling and client libraries for Windows Azure. Customers can choose the Java environment of their choice and run it on Windows Azure.

Since this year’s PDC is a fully virtualized event, there is much more guidance and information available to you online. To attend PDC 2010 virtually, please visit:  For additional information about today’s news, check out the PDC Virtual Press Room.   

SQL Azure Now Supports Database Copy


SQL Azure now supports Database copy.

This update is part of SQL Azure Service Update 4. Also, this service update includes:

Database copy allows you to make a real-time complete snapshot of your database into a different server in the data center. This new copy feature is the first step in backup support for SQL Azure, allowing you to get a complete backup of any SQL Azure database before making schema or database changes to the source database.

Updates to SQL Azure

sql-azure-logo-lgSQL Azure news were announced today at TechED North America.

Microsoft announced it will offer spatial data support and access to 50GB of SQL Azure Database capacity allowing for higher scalability, flexibility and easier management of applications and services. Further enhancements to management capabilities include the public preview of SQL Azure Data Sync Service, which provides more flexible control over where and how data is distributed and synced across multiple datacenters, and Microsoft SQL Server Web Manager, a lightweight and easy to use tool to help develop, deploy, and manage data-driven applications on the cloud.

What Happens When I reach the allocated level (1 GB or 10 GB) in SQL Azure?

SQL Azure Many times I am asked “When I reach the allocated level (1 GB or 10 GB) in SQL Azure, what happens?”

The answer: only SELECTs and DELETEs will be supported. UPDATEs and INSERTs will throw an error.

Any workaround? yes.

Because of above size constraints, one of the recommendations is to partition the data across databases. Creating multiple databases will allow you take maximum advantage of the computing power of multiple nodes. The biggest value in the Azure model is the elasticity of being able to create as many databases as you need, when your demand peaks and delete/drop the databases as your demand subsides.

Ford, Microsoft Showing Cars With Custom App Plat Running Win7, Robotics Studio

Ford-Microsoft "Wait – this car tweets? "  Yes – and checks in on FourSquare, plus a lot more! 

As part of a program called American Journey 2.0, Ford and Microsoft ran a course at the University of Michigan this Spring that taught students to build apps on the Fiestaware platform.  The platform itself — called "Fiestaware" — is built on top of Windows 7 and Robotics Developer Studio, and includes components optimized to work with Windows Azure.  Ford, Microsoft, and UofM are showed the Fiestaware application platform at Maker Faire weekend (May 22-23rd) in San Mateo, CA, running inside of two Ford Fiestas, along with apps built on the platform by Ford and by students at the University of Michigan. 

Microsoft Technology Components for the "Fiestaware" platform used in the Ford Fiesta as part of American Journey 2.0:

  • Provides new capabilities for application developers to build compelling, safe, and natural user experiences that span from the embedded vehicle network to the cloud
  • Fiestaware platform technology components:
    • Built on Windows 7
    • Supports natural user interfaces, such as touch and speech interaction
    • User interface is built with .NET (Windows Presentation Foundation)
    • Microsoft Robotics Developer Studio used to manage access and coordinate use of resources on the embedded vehicle network (e.g., vehicle sensor data) and in Windows 7 (e.g., Windows 7 Speech API).
    • Platform supports using SQL CE on the PC in the vehicle to cache/synchronize with SQL Azure in order to handle intermittent connectivity gracefully
    • Application development environment is Visual Studio 2008 with Microsoft Robotics Developer Studio
  • Ford, with assistance from Microsoft and our partner Cumulux, have built a set of customer Distributed System Services with Robotics Development Studio that pull these Microsoft platform technologies into a specialized automotive computing application platform.  The net effect is to make 3rd party application development for the in-vehicle environment dramatically more accessible to the vast pool of application developers in the Microsoft ecosystem.


Why did Ford choose Windows 7 for this program instead of Windows Embedded?   Ford carefully evaluated whether to use Windows 7 or Windows Embedded Standard 7 for the Fiestaware platform, and selected Windows 7 to ensure that both the platform and communications about the platform would come across as accessible as possible to a broad audience of automotive and technology enthusiasts.  Ford recognizes that Windows Embedded Standard 7 offers features and capabilities that would be very valuable in a supported production deployment. 

Additional Resources:

SQL Database Migration To SQL Azure

Many customers are asking about migration from SQL to SQL Azure. This post will describe the considerations you have to take and the migration process.sql-azure-logo-lg

First of all, be familiar with SQL Azure limitations:

SQL Azure does not run in backward compatibility mode (SQL Server 2000 or SQL Server 2005). It is running compatibility mode 10 (SQL Server 2008).  Thus, all deprecated SQL Server 2000 and 2005 features will not work in SQL Azure (for the most part, there might be a few exceptions). 

If you work with SQL 2000/2005, first upgrade it to 2008 or SQL 2008 Express and get everything working there first. Then go through the migration process to SQL Azure.

Note that there are TSQL commands that are not supported by SQL Azure. There is a tool (SQLAzureMW) in codeplex ( that will analyze your database and also analyze SQL Profiler trace files (to cover your dynamic generated SQL) and tell you what is not compatible.  From there, you have a great start on figuring out what you need to do in order to get your database in SQL Azure.  Once your database is compatible, you can also use SQLAzureMW to actually migrate your database for you to SQL Azure. (SQLAzureMW requires SQL Server 2008 R2 CTP).

My recommendation is to start with SQLAzureMW and let it give you a rough idea of how much work you will need to do.  Then you can decide if you need to go through the upgrade process to SQL Server 2008 first before you go to SQL Azure.

Have fun!

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