Microsoft delivers Azure cloud roadmap

By Mary Jo Foley
There were a lot of promised deliverables on the Azure cloud roadmap that Microsoft unveiled at its Professional Developers Conference (PDC) in October 2010. This week, the Redmondians rolled out more of them, including a public beta of the Windows Azure Virtual Machine Role.

According to a December 14 TechNet blog post, Microsoft is providing the following test and final versions of five of the two dozen or so new Azure cloud features detailed at the PDC. This week’s five:

·         Full Administrative Access (general availability)

·         Full IIS Access (general availability)

·         Remote Desktop (general availability)

·         Windows Azure Connect (Community Technology Preview test build)

·         VM Role (public beta)

Update (December 17): It turns out these are not new as of this week; these final and test releases were all out as of November 30. The December 14 post was not worded correctly, according to a Microsoft spokesperson.

The Windows Azure Virtual Machine (VM) Role is designed to ease migration of Windows Server apps to Windows Azure by allowing them to run virtually. The public beta will enable VM Role support for Windows Server 2008 R2 in Windows Azure. Apps running in VMs won’t be able to take full advantage of the elasticity, multitenancy, and other cloud functionality, but still will derive some benefits, such as automatic cloud backup for apps running on the Azure platform.

Admin access enables multiple Windows Live IDs to have administrator privileges on the same Windows Azure account, so that teams can work on the same account while using their individual Live IDs. Full IIS support allows developers to enable multiple IIS sites per Web role and to install IIS modules. Remote desktop provides the ability to connect to a running instance of an Azure app or service so as to monitor and troubleshoot it. These three features were all slated to be generally available to customers before the end of 2010.

A Community Tech Preview build of Azure Connect (codenamed “Project Sydney”) is designed to allow users to set up easily IP-based network connectivity between on-premises and Azure resources. Azure Connect is the first piece of what Microsoft is calling the Windows Azure Virtual Network. The final, generally-available version of Azure Connect is slated for the first half of 2011, Microsoft officials have said.

Microsoft made available earlier this month a second CTP test build of the SQL Azure Reporting Services it also promised at the Professional Developers Conference.