Announcing Windows Infrastructure Services General Availability

This is a major milestone for Windows Azure! We are excited to announce that Windows Azure Virtual Machines and Windows Azure Virtual Network now are generally available. These new services make it possible for you to move your applications into the cloud as is.

One point holds true in every discussion – the cloud should be an enabler for innovation, and an extension of your organization’s IT, not just a fancier way to describe cheap infrastructure and application hosting. This brief video shows what you can do with Windows Azure Infrastructure Services.

You’ve also told us that you want best-in-class performance at a low price. That’s why today we are also announcing a commitment to match Amazon Web Services prices for commodity services such as compute, storage and bandwidth. This starts with reducing our GA prices on Virtual Machines and Cloud Services by 21-33%.

You can find the general availability announcement and the price reduction details at Windows Azure Blog.

Learn more about Windows Azure at www.windowsazure.com. Explore common scenarios where Windows Azure Infrastructure Services can help your business by visiting our Infrastructure Services page. Finally, get going by signing up for a free trial today

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Django now available on Windows Azure

Django is a high-level Python Web framework that encourages rapid development and clean, pragmatic design. Django is now available in the Windows Azure Web Application Gallery.

Once you are logged into the Management portal, you will need to create a new site “from gallery” as shown below

Django 1

Django 2

You can find the entire tutorial here.

Enjoy!

Series of Posts on Azure Security

My colleague Bruce Kyle has put together a view into how you can secure your application in Windows Azure. He’s pulled together information from hundreds of pages to provide you with a how-to guide on developing your application in a secure way on Windows Azure.

This six-part series describes the threats, how you can respond, what processes you can put into place for the lifecycle of your application, and prescribes a way for you to implement best practices around the requirements of your application. I’ll also show ways for you to incorporate user identity and some of services Azure provides that will enable your users to access your cloud applications in new says.

At first, the steps may seem lengthy. But as you will find, Windows Azure shares the responsibility to help secure your application. By using Windows Azure platform, you are able to take a deeper look into your application and take steps to make your application more secure.

Here are the links to each part in this series:

Part 1: The Challenges, Defense in Depth. This post describes the threat landscape and introduces the plan for your application to employ defense in depth in partnership with Windows Azure.

Part 2: What Azure Provides Out-of-the-Box.This is an overview that security with Windows Azure is a shared responsibility, and Windows Azure provides your application with important security features. But then again, it also exposes other vulnerabilities that you should consider. In addition, I’ll explore how Microsoft approaches compliance.

Part 3: Identifying Your Security Frame. This post explores how you can examine your application and identify attack surfaces. The idea of a Security Frame is a way for you to look at your application to determine treats and your responses, before you even begin coding. He point you to checklists that you can use when you are architecting your application.

Part 4: What Else You Need to Do. In addition to protecting your application from threats, there are additional steps you should take when you deploy your application. We provide a list of mitigations that you should employ in your application development and deployment.

Part 5: Claims-Based Identity, Single Sign On. User identification represents the keys to accessing data and business processes in your application. In this section, I describe how you can separate user identity and the roles of your user out of your application and make it easier to create single sign on applications.

Part 6: How Azure Services Extends Your App Security. Finally, he shows how other services in Windows Azure provide secure identity mapping, messaging, and connection to on premises application. This section suggests how you can use Windows Azure Active Directory, Windows Azure Connect, and Service Bus for your cloud applications, on premises applications, and hybrid applications.

Part 7: Tips, Tools, Coding Best Practices. here are a few more items you should consider in securing your Windows Azure application. Here are some tools, coding tips, and best practices: running on the operating system, error handling, and how to access to Azure Storage

The intent of this series is to provide a context for you to learn more and empower you to write great applications for the public cloud.

Learn more at Global Foundation Services Online Security. The Global Foundation Services team delivers trustworthy, available online services that create a competitive advantage for you and for Microsoft’s Windows Azure.

Openness Update for Windows Azure

windows_azure_smallWhat an exiting release it is! The December release of Windows Azure brings many cool new features including extensive support of open source libraries like Node.js, MongoDB, Hadoop, Solr, Memcached.

You can find an overview of the support was announced on Port 25 on Openness Update for Windows Azure.

We understand that there are many different technologies that developers may want to use to build applications in the cloud. Developers want to use the tools that best fit their experience, skills, and application requirements, and our goal is to enable that choice.

In keeping with that goal, we are extremely happy to be delivering new and improved experiences for Node.js, MongoDB, Hadoop, Solr and Memcached on Windows Azure.

 

Here are the highlights of the announcements:

    • We are releasing the Windows Azure SDK for Node.js as open source, available immediately on Github. These libraries are the perfect complement to our recently announced contributions to Node.js and provide a better Node.js experience on Windows Azure. Head to the Windows Azure Developer Center for documentation, tutorial, samples and how-to guides to get you started with Node.js on Windows Azure.
    • We will also be delivering the Node package manager for Windows (npm) code to allow use of npm on Windows for simpler and faster Node.js configuration and development. Windows developers can now use NPM to install Node modules and take advantage of its automated handling of module dependencies and other details.
    • To build on our recent announcement about Apache Hadoop, we are making available a limited preview of the Apache Hadoop based distribution service on Windows Azure.  This enables Hadoop apps to be deployed in hours instead of days, and includes Hadoop Javascript libraries and powerful insights on data through the ODBC driver and Excel plugin for Hive. Read more about this on the Windows Azure team blog. If you are interested in trying this preview, please complete the form herewith details of your Big Data scenario.  Microsoft will issue an access code to select customers based on usage scenarios.
    • For all of you NoSQL fans, we have been working closely with 10Gen and theMongoDB community in the past few months, and if you were at at MongoSV last week you have already seen MongoDB running on Windows Azure. Head out to the10Gen website to find downloads, documentation and other document-oriented goodies. If you’re using the popular combination of Node.js and MongoDB, a simple straightforward install process will get you started on Windows Azure. Learn morehere.
    • For Java developers, take a look at the updated Java support, including a new and revamped Eclipse plugin. The new features are too many to list for this post, but you can count on a much better experience thanks to new and exciting functionality such as support for sticky sessions and configuration of remote Java debugging. Head over to the Windows Azure Developer Center to learn more.
    • Does your application need advanced search capabilities? If so, the chances are you either use or are evaluating Solr, and so the good news for you is that we just released a set of code tools and configuration guidelines to get the most out of Solr running on Windows Azure.

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.

WHY DOES THIS RELEASE MATTER TO YOU? 

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.

Enterprise Library Integration Pack for Windows Azure

Read the announcement here.

ELAzure_logo_smallFor years the Enterprise Library application blocks have helped developers address the typical cross-cutting concerns of enterprise development (such as diagnostic logging, data validation, and exception handing). With over 3.5 million downloads, they take a prominent place in the toolbox of a modern .NET developer. The good news is that most of the Enterprise Library 5.0 application blocks simply work on Windows Azure. However, developing for the Windows Azure platform presents new challenges, including how to make applications more elastic (via autoscaling), and more stable and resilient to transient failures. The Enterprise Library Integration Pack for Windows Azure focuses on addressing these challenges. It provides reusable components and developer’s guidance designed to encapsulate recommended practices which facilitate consistency, ease of use, integration, extensibility, scalability and cost-effectiveness. Developers and IT professionals familiar with other Enterprise Library application blocks as well as those who are new to Enterprise Library will be able to benefit from the comprehensive set of content we are shipping today. You can pick and choose what matters to you and to your app, and adopt only those particular blocks/features.

Highlights

This release includes a comprehensive set of technical content, including:

  • Two new application blocks:
    • Autoscaling Application Block ("Wasabi") to help you to automatically scale both web and worker roles in Windows Azure by dynamically provisioning/decommissioning roles or throttling. These scaling actions are based on timetables or on metrics collected from the application and/or Windows Azure Diagnostics.
    • Transient Fault Handling Application Block ("Topaz") to help you make your Windows Azure application more resilient to transient errors when you are using these cloud services: SQL Azure, Windows Azure Storage, Windows Azure Caching, and Windows Azure Service Bus.
  • One new configuration source:
    • Blob configuration source to load configuration information from a blob in your Azure Storage account so that you can modify it without having to redeploy your application to Windows Azure.
  • Windows PowerShell cmdlets to browse and manipulate the Autoscaling Application Block settings directly from Windows PowerShell.
  • Protected configuration provider to allow you to encrypt sections of your configuration files in Windows Azure.
  • Updated database creation scripts so that you can migrate your code using the database trace listeners of the Logging Application Block and the Caching Application Block.
  • A substantial collection of experience guidance help you ramp up quickly, including:

For detailed change log from Beta to Final and installation instructions, see Release Notes.

How to Get it?

The recommended way to obtain the Enterprise Library Integration Pack for Windows Azure is as NuGet packages. Alternatively, you can download self-extracting zip files with binaries, sources (including tests) and the reference implementation from MSDN. The configuration tool is available as a Visual Studio extension package (VSIX) from the Visual Studio Gallery.

Improved Developer Experience, Interoperability, and Scalability on Windows Azure

The Windows Azure team has announced multiple updates to Windows Azure that improve ease of use, interoperability, and overall value.

From the post:

Key Highlights:

  • New Developer Experience and Enhanced Interoperability—Access to Windows Azure libraries for .NET, Java, and Node.js is now available under Apache 2 open source license and hosted on GitHub, a new Windows Azure SDK for Node.js makes Windows Azure a first-class environment for Node applications, and a limited preview of an Apache Hadoop based service for Windows Azure enables Hadoop apps to be deployed in hours instead of days.
  • Easier to Get Started and Simplified Subscription Management—Revamped Dev Centers for multiple languages with helpful content and tutorials, a new sign-up process with spending caps makes sign-up simple, fast and ensures a completely free 90 day trial. View real-time usage and billing details directly from the Windows Azure Management Portal and see expected costs with a simplified pricing calculator.
  • Improved Database Scale—Three times the maximum database size for SQL Azure (at no additional cost—details below), and SQL Azure Federation, a new sharding pattern that simplifies elastic scale-out.
  • Better Overall Value—New price cap for the largest SQL Azure databases reduces effective price per gigabyte by 67 percent, Data Transfer prices in North America and Europe have been reduced by 25 percent, and Service Bus usage is now free through March 2012.

Windows Azure is always evolving based on your feedback. We encourage you to take look at today’s updates and our pricing changes, attend tomorrow’s Learn Windows Azure event online, and let us know what you think by posting a comment on this post or talking to us on Twitter @WindowsAzure. These are just a few of the highlights. See below for additional details

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