Yes, that’s right, we’ve gone ahead and enabled two very cool and sought after features today: In-Place Upgrade and the Service Management APIs.
In-Place Upgrade enables you to incrementally roll a new version of your service over the existing version without first deploying the new version to staging. With this new mechanism, you can upgrade your entire application or just a single role (e.g. web role) without disturbing the other roles in your application. Note that you will still have the option to upgrade as before, by first deploying the new version to staging and then swapping it with the production deployment. (What we informally call “a VIP swap”.)
To ensure application availability during an in-place upgrade, Windows Azure stops only a subset of your instances at a time to upgrade them, while keeping the remaining instances running. To achieve this, Windows Azure logically partitions your application into “upgrade domains” and updates one domain at a time. During the Community Technology Preview, Windows Azure uses two upgrade domains for each application. This means that half of your role instances will be offline at a time during an in-place upgrade. In the future, you will be able to choose how many upgrade domains you want. This is a very important concept for platform users, and one we will be expounding upon in the coming months, so now is a really good time to try it out and let us know what you think.
Read more on the Windows Azure Team blog about In-Place Upgrade.
The Service Management APIs help you manage your deployments, hosted services and storage accounts. This is a REST-based API which users can code against in their toolset of choice to manage their services. Now you can easily view, create, delete, swap, modify configuration settings, changing instance counts, and update your deployments. Furthermore, you can listing and view properties for hosted services, storage accounts and affinity groups. There is also a new tool called csmanage.exe to help you interact with the Service Management API and manage your deployments. You can find csmanage.exe along with other samples on the Windows Azure Team Blog Service Management APIs post.
All of the online Windows Azure SDK on MSDN has the latest and greatest info on the new features, so make sure you bookmark it and keep it handy.
Don’t forget, if you are currently using the CTP that is live, you will need to be cognizant that your current token is limited for the number of roles and role instances you may spawn. The good news is, at commercial release this limitation will no longer be in place, and you can REALLY rock-on with these APIs. :)
Have a good one!