Microsoft Reveals Advances in Azure Services

Azure provides platform to data services that ISVs need, company says.

Microsoft outlined some Windows Azure advances on the second day of developer-targeted Build conference.

The president of Server and Tools Business, Satya Nadella, made a presentation to independent software vendors (ISVs) during the Build keynote address.  He explained that ISVs need a rich portfolio of storage "across blobs, tables, and full relational capabilities" to handle the complexity of data. Windows Azure, Microsoft's cloud-based platform and SQL Azure provide the platform for the data services that ISVs require, he claimed.

Nadella said that data feeds can be monetized using Windows Azure Marketplace; Microsoft plans to expand this marketplace to 25 additional countries by early next month, including "Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czech, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UK, Australia, Hong Kong, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand and Singapore," according to Windows Azure blog post.

The marketplace can house full applications as well as data sets. Data feeds from the marketplace can be consumed in applications as namespaces. Nadella cited the example of Microsoft's Bing Translator, which is being used by eBay for a Windows Phone app. Ford is another example of a company tapping a namespace in the marketplace. Ford uses a service to deliver optimal electric charging-time information to hybrid and electric car owners, Nadella explained.

Inaddition, Microsoft announced that its Translator API is now available from the Windows Azure Marketplace.

Nadella noted that ISVs will want to handle multiple identities from various providers, such as Facebook, Google, Windows Live and Yahoo, when managing their rich composed services. Microsoft introduced its Windows Azure access control services to handle that complexity, he said.

A demo by John Shewchuk, a Microsoft technical fellow, showed how to use the Windows 8 credentials password vault to handle multiple identities, which enables a single sign-on experience across Windows 8 apps. If that's not available, the application defaults to a regular sign-on process. Behind the scenes, the combination of the Windows 8 authentication broker plus the new Windows Azure access control surface does all of the heavy lifting to support multiple identity providers, Shewchuk said.

Microsoft today released the Windows Azure Toolkit for Windows 8, which helps developers build cloud-based services for Windows 8 Metro-style apps, such as services that run on different mobile operating system platforms. The code to support the certification of IDs from multiple identity providers is included in the toolkit, according to Shewchuk. The toolkit supports coding in HTML 5, JavaScript, C#, C++ and Visual Basic to support notifications and sign-on identities, according to the Windows Azure blog. Developers can write client code for each device platform, such as Android, iOS and Windows Phone.

Windows Azure Storage was updated with a new geo-replication feature that can be used for disaster recovery support. It replicates Windows Azure blob, tables and queues between two locations. The locations can be hundreds of miles apart, but they have to be in the same region for the service to work. Microsoft turned on this geo-replication feature for all current Windows Azure Storage accounts.

Nadella also noted that the September release of the Windows Azure Storage Bus is available today. Microsoft improved this publish and subscribe messaging service with new features such as "Queues, Topics and Subscriptions, and Rules," according to the Windows Azure blog.

Finally, Microsoft released Windows Azure SDK 1.5, which was updated for September. In this release, the emulator was revamped to better support local and cloud locations. The certificate upload process was improved. A new tool was added to manage remote desktop encrypted passwords.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.