Windows Azure is always evolving to include new capabilities and recently there was a number of them that were introduced that I wanted to highlight:

ExpressRoute Preview Launch

ExpressRoute is a new capability available in Windows Azure allowing you to easily extend your existing network to Azure bypassing public internet with guaranteed levels of service and bandwidth. This VPN-less solution leverages IP exchanges through Level 3 or Equinix or MPLS VPN connections from AT&T to provide low-latency, high-throughput, and private connectivity for workloads running in Windows Azure. Additional information is available here.

Increased Co-Administrator limits to 200

Customers asked, and we delivered. For enterprise customers running workloads in Windows Azure, the 10 co-administrators limit to a given subscription introduced challenges for customers with large numbers of IT staff and/or with security audit protocols in place who were unable to share IDs. This week we launched the ability for customers to add up to 200 co-administrators to simplify subscription management.

Service Incident Notification

During an active service incident, it was sometimes difficult to ascertain whether your specific subscription was impacted when viewing the public service health dashboard. Sometimes incidents were isolated in a given region making it even more of a challenge to detect specific subscription-level impact. With the update deployed this week, you can login to the Windows Azure portal and, if your subscription is impacted by an active service incident, you will see a pop-up ‘toast’ with links to details on the incident.

VM Agents

VMs running PaaS (Platform as a Service) workloads have always had a lightweight agent running on them to facilitate server specific management operations. This week we introduced an agent that can be deployed to Linux or Windows IaaS (infrastructure as a service) VMs that can be used to easily install and configure extensions to streamline system management. One of the first extensions available is a BGINFO option to push the VM’s IP address, host name, memory/size information onto the ‘wallpaper’ of a logged on user.

Website Backup/Restore

If you are making use of Windows Azure Websites, you can now configure manual or scheduled backups of your website assets/code as well as MySQL/SQL databases driving the site. This new DR solution will streamline operations to improve your ability to quickly revert to a previous version. This feature is also available free of charge!

For additional information on these and many other new Windows Azure features, check out ScottGu’s blog post.