My 10 favourite new/improved #WindowsAzure Features!

For those who have been living in an unconnected world for the last 2 weeks, I’ll restate the obvious : Windows Azure “Spring Release” has  been released. That was wat MEET Azure was all about, the announcement of the  new and improved Azure platform and features.

You ‘ll be hearing about plenty newly implemented features or improved capabilities over the next couple of hours, days, weeks and even months as people will start investigating and discovering the features themselves. As for me I’ll start of by listing my favourite 10 new or improved features in reverse order (1 being my most favourite, so it’s a real countdown list ;-) )

10. Windows 2012

                The RP of the new server OS can be chosen as the underlying OS for your windows Azure VM  Instances. Which actually is pretty cool when you want to start fiddling around with the new OS and when you don’t have any resources available for that.

9. IaaS

                The previous feature implies immediately that Azure went IaaS, with a variety of templates available for setting up you VM infrastructure

The cool thing about the IaaS  part is that it immediately also creates another service point when de the VM has been deployed . Pretty cool!!!

8. Linux support

That being said Microsoft takes  another aim at the Open Initiative: Redmond partnered up with some of the Enterprise based Linux Distro’s:

7. Windows Azure Active Directory(WAAD)

The ACS has had a rebranding and lots of improvements. It’s REST Based and its universal over all the Microsoft Online Services stack (O365, CRM Online, Windows Azure, Windows Intune, etc … ). Cool thing I like most is that you can apply the same policies within your company to you WAAD and have your enterprise user seamlessly authenticate with their proper accounts.

6. Build in monitoring and dashboarding

Now you have a real overview ,  in realtime, on your usage and metrics of your azure instances and environment!

5. Better management / API

This release comes like the Batman utility belt: it’s packed with tools and utilities to help you through the toughest assignments J.  From an included Powershell stack (yes, it’s an official download now J ) Also the Windows Azure Service Management REST API (that’s a mouthful) has had a dramatic extension and change, with improvements towards stability and performance.

4. Websites

One of the more cooler features , consumer and commercial wise is the addition of Websites. You now have the right and the ability to create websites based on either a blog or CMS package and you are entitles to 10 (that’s right!!) FREE sites!!!. In the packages available you have Orchard, Umbraco, Drupal, WordPress, DotNetNuke and many more. The cool thing here is that it sets up in less than a minute (WordPress being the fastest of them all in setting up an deploying, with full support for
MySQL DB’s (hosted J))


Other cool thing with the webistes is that you’ve got tight support for WebMatrix!

3. Media Services

Windows Azure Media Services form an extensible cloud-based media platform that enables developers to build solutions for ingesting, processing, managing, and delivering media content. Media Services are built on the infrastructure of Windows Azure (to provide media processing and asset storage), and IIS Media Services (to provide content delivery).

It currently supports:


·Use the Windows Azure Media Encoder and work with a range of
standard codecs and formats, including industry-leading IIS Smooth Streaming,
MP4, and conversion to Apple HTTP Live Streaming.

·Convert entire libraries or individual files with total control
over input and output.

·Supported video and audio codecs:

·H.264 High, Main and Baseline Profiles



·VC-1 (Windows Media Video 9) Simple, Main and Advanced Profiles

·Windows Media Audio Standard

·Windows Media Audio Professional

·Supported format conversions:

·ISO MP4 (.mp4) to Smooth Streaming File Format (PIFF 1.3) (.ismv;

·Smooth Streaming File Format (PIFF) to Apple HTTP Live Streaming
(.msu8, .ts)

Content Protection

·Encrypt live or on-demand video and audio with standard MPEG
Common Encryption or Microsoft PlayReady, the industry’s most accepted DRM for
premium content.

On-Demand Streaming

·Streaming Origin support for Smooth Streaming and Apple HTTP Live

·Seamlessly deliver content via Windows Azure CDN or a third-party

·Add a scalable origin server with or without a CDN.

·Scale to millions of users by adding a Windows Azure CDN or a
third-party CDN.

2. The new Management Portal

Microsoft has heard the masses and continuous to support the Open Initiative. Therefor they have decided to restyle and re-develop the management portal. Full HTML based. It even works on MAC J (bold demo of Scott Gu during MeetWindowsAzure, check out the live recording J)

It’s fluent, fast and very stylish (metrofied J) . Although, according to me, still not feature complete, they’ve created a terrific user experience for managing the Windows Azure platform. For those still needing some of the older tools, the old portal is still available!

And last but not least:

1. ALM integration : TFS And GIT

But for me the coolest thing they’ve done is integrating the ALM story: a full ALM in the cloud seems unstoppable now!

Allowing for continuous integration scenarios in the cloud, coupled to TFSPreview  (now fully open, so
no more code needed!!!)

So if you got 5 minutes to spare do check out these cool features, i’ll be blogging on some of them more into detail in the upcoming weeks/months.


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