Microsoft starts rolling out test builds of promised Azure cloud add-ons

Summary:At this year's Professional Developers Conference, the Azure team promised to deliver a slew of new add-ons and services -- in either test or final form -- before the end of calendar 2010. As of this week, test versions of many of those services are available for download.

At this year's Professional Developers Conference, the Azure team promised to deliver a slew of new add-ons and services -- in either test or final form -- before the end of calendar 2010. As of this week, test versions of many of those services are available for download.

The majority of the promised services and add-ons are available via the new Azure Management Portal; a few others are available via a newly released Azure Tools for Visual Studio software development kit (version 1.3), which Microsoft made available for download earlier this week.

There are still a few services that Microsoft officials said would be available before the end of this year that are not downloadable yet. Those include server application virtualization (due in Community Technology Preview, or CTP, test form), SQL Azure Reporting (due in CTP form), and SQL Azure Data Sync (also due in CTP form). These are still on track for end of year, the Softies said on November 30.

As of this week, public betas are now available for:

  • Windows Azure Virtual Machine Role
  • Extra Small Windows Azure Instance, which is priced at $0.05 per compute hour, to attract developers who need cheaper cloud training and prototyping environment
  • The application section of the Windows Azure Marketplace, a site offering Azure building-block components, premium data sets, training and services

A CTP is now available for:

  • Windows Azure Connect: (formerly Project Sydney), which provides IP-based network connectivity between on-premises and Windows Azure resources

Microsoft is providing an overview Webcast about these new features on December 1 at 9 a.m. PT.

By the way, if you're wondering whether "CTP" and "beta" mean the same thing in the cloud as they do on-premises, Microsoft's answer is "not exactly." Server and Tools President Bob Muglia told me at the PDC that Microsoft is moving towards a slightly different nomenclature when talking about the path to rollout in the cloud. "Preview" in the cloud refers to code that Microsoft is showing but not providing to testers outside the company. "CTP" refers to code testers can use, but that will be provided for free. "Beta" refers to code available to testers, for which Microsoft plans to charge, Muglia said.

Topics: Virtualization, Cloud, Hardware, Microsoft, Operating Systems, Servers, Software, Windows

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Mary Jo Foley has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications, including ZDNet, eWeek and Baseline. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008). She also is the cohost of the "Windows Weekly" podcast on the TWiT network. Got a tip? Se... Full Bio

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