Microsoft starts making more of its Azure cloud services generally available

Microsoft starts making more of its Azure cloud services generally available

Summary: Microsoft's Windows Azure Active Directory service is now ready for use in production. Its Linux and Windows Server virtual machines are likely next to move from test to general availability.


Last year, Microsoft took the wraps off a lot of of new Windows Azure services. This year, many of those services are at last going from "preview" to "general availability."


On April 8, Microsoft officials announced that Windows Azure Active Directory (WAAD) is now generally available and ready for production use.

WAAD is Microsoft's cloud implementation of its Windows Active Directory directory service. A number of Microsoft cloud properties already are using WAAD, including the Windows Azure Online Backup, Windows Azure, Office 365, Dynamics CRM Online and Windows InTune.

Officials made the WAAD general-availability (GA) announcement on the opening day of the annual Microsoft Management Summit (MMS).

Next up -- I'm hearing  possibly as early as the week of April 15 -- Microsoft may announce the general availability of the persistent Windows Server and Linux virtual machines which the company announced last year. These VMs allow users to host existing Windows and Linux applications on Windows Azure. These VMs are key to Microsoft's plan to expand Azure from more of a pure platform-as-a-service offering to a PaaS plus IaaS (infrastructure-as-a-service) one.

Microsoft also could announce the general availability on or around April 15 of its Azure Web Sites (codenamed "Antares") and Windows Azure Virtual Network (codenamed "Brooklyn") services, too, according to some of my contacts. 

Microsoft officials are declining to say when Microsoft will make the persistent Windows and Linux VMs; Azure Web Sites; and/or Azure Virtual Network generally available.

Other server and cloud announcements Microsoft execs made during Day 1 of MMS on April 8:

  • Windows Azure Backup is now available as a public paid previewf. This service is aimed at those wanting to store server data offsite, with automated backups to the cloud available.
  • System Center Management Pack for Windows Azure is now available in public preview form. This pack allows users to monitor availability and performance of the Azure services using their existing System Center 2012 Service Pack 1 (SP1) environment.
  • System Center Advisor Connector for Operations Manager is available as a free, public preview for System Center 2012 SP1 users.

Microsoft also is continuing to beat the "software-defined networking" (SDN) drum, announcing its participation in OpenDaylight, an open-source project focused on SDN.

"By participating in the multi-platform endeavor, Microsoft is demonstrating our commitment to an open, extensible and standards-based approach to SDN and network virtualization," according to Microsoft's official statement.

Microsoft is continuing to refine its messaging around Windows Azure, and recently began touting Azure as something customers should treat as part of their own datacenters, even though customers cannot actually run Azure inside their own datacenters.

Topics: Cloud, Windows, Windows Server


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • Exciting times in Azure

    Azure it turning into a killer platform, regardless of your choice in OS, platform, tech & tools you use and it's significantly cheaper than AWS too when you factor-in storage access costs :)

    Azure's REST-based management API is accessible from command-line, web-based UI and tools. Its storage services (blob, table & queue) have recently been boosted to offer a 400% performance improvement and is faster than AWS!

    Can't wait to see VM & Web Sites finally achieve GA.

    And I really hope that Microsoft continues to work with partners to bring the best of OSS to its PAAS offerings. Would love to see RavenDB, Cassandra, Redis/RedisDB PAAS support.
    • Exciting times in Azure

      Azure it turning into a killer platform.. Scary
      beau parisi
  • Best platform I used.

    I have been using Azure services for personal projects ( SQL DB, Mobile services and VM's). Its very easy to set up services and every thing was up and running in less than 5 minutes. The best feature I liked is the two way syncing of on-premise SQL server database with the Azure database which can be scheduled as per your requirement. Websites and mobile services are free for small players (shared environment).

    Looks like Azure is going to be the next multi-billion dollar business for MS.
  • Ahhsure

    As someone who spends their life working with cloud vendors around the world I can say without a shadow of a doubt Azure is one of the most rudimentary platforms I have come across. I spent quite a bit of time with it recently and outside of the storage architect found very little to like about it. It seems fit for specific use cases and provides very little flexibility for a lot of real world customer requirements of those who I pitched it to. Sadly, It seems to be typical ver 1.0 product that Microsoft is becoming known for these days.

    I really hope it improves in it's capability soon and that I can hand on heart recommend it to customers.
    • Interesting

      Specifically what features do you find lacking from Azure?
  • Finally!

    We used Azure Storage and Website to build node.js hacks during our last Silicon Valley hackathon. It is surprisingly great, took less than 5 minutes to set it up with GitHub/Storage/Express/Node.JS, helped us focus on the hack instead of setting up the infrastructure.

    So stable too! Last hacks we used Heroku/Ninjitsu, and their services don't even match what Azure has. So happy as well, when our hack won, I was scared my server would have crashed cause many people would come and visit, but with a click of a button I scaled it without rebooting or paying more. It is epic :)
  • Azure Media Services

    Microsoft's latest Azure Media Services will be THE takeaway from this years NAB show. They appeared at last year's to a standing room only crowd. This year, I predict a line-up of informed people hoping to meet with AMS team members, collecting business cards, and hoping to garner inroads to the NEXT media/stream tech of choice.