Every year, BUILD bring developers all the new stuff around Microsoft platform and technologies and the World Partner Conference is the main event were partners share ideas, network and make contacts. We have made important announcements regarding Windows Azure.

I will try to summarize them:

 

  • General availability of Windows Azure Mobile Services: This service, that has been in preview for some time, enables companies to easily create a mobile backend for every device. Mobile services simplifies user authentication, push notification, server side data and business logic for Windows 8, Windows Phone, iOS, Android and HTML5 apps. Mobile Services is now available in three tiers: Free, Standard and Premium. You can read more about it on ScottGu’s blog.
  • General availability of Windows Azure Web Sites Standard and Free tiers: Web Sites is perfect for hosting a web presence and the fastest way to build, scale and manage Web applications. Windows Azure Web Sites is open and supports many frameworks and languages like .NET, PHP, Python and Node.JS. We announced General Availability of of Windows Azure Web Sites Standard and Free tiers. You can read pricing details in this page. We also announced general availability support for custom domain SSL certificate bindings for web sites running using the Standard tier. You can find more information on the Windows Azure Blog.
  • Auto-Scaling, alerts and monitoring: We’ve just announced the availability in preview mode of auto scaling for Virtual Machines, Cloud Services, Mobile Services and Web Sites. During this preview, the service will be free of charge. Auto Scaling allows users to define scaling rules directly in the Windows Azure Management Portal to automatically scale your application dynamically on your behalf. As there is no charge for stopped VMs and we are billing at a per-minute granularity, we can now fully leverage the elasticity of the cloud to really lower our operational costs. Now it’s also possible to configure threshold based alerts on monitoring metrics. You will receive e-mails based on those alerts.
  • Cloud Load Testing: With the new Visual Studio 2013 preview and Team Foundation Service you can now easily test our new cloud testing service for free with a limited quantity per month. You can get more information about this service in this post and get started here.
  • Windows Azure SQL Database Premium: Announced yesterday at WPC, this new offer allows you to reserve capacity (CPU and RAM) for your Windows Azure SQL Databases so you can have better and more predictable performance while not needing to worry about maintaining the servers or high availability issues. Please read this post if you want to get more details about this new offering.
  • New features for Windows Azure Active Directory: Today, there are more than 3 million companies already using Windows Azure Active Directory. We have just announced the availability, in preview and at no cost, new application access enhancements for Windows Azure Active Directory. Basically, these new features enable single sign-on for many popular pre-integrated cloud apps such as Office365, Box, Salesforce and others. You can find more detailed information in the Active Directory Team Blog. It’s important to say that there is no cost to participate in this preview and these features will remain at no cost when they reach general availability. You can enable the preview here.
  • New Windows Azure virtual machines images available: SQL Server 2014, Windows Server 2012 and Visual Studio 2013 preview images are now available in the Virtual Machines Images Gallery to help you to easily test these new products.
  • Support for Windows Azure HPC Pack: This enables you to offload your HPC workloads to Windows Azure. More information in this article and here you can find the updated list of supported workloads in Windows Azure.
  • MSDN Cloud Benefits: There are important benefits now for MSDN subscribers:
    • Monthly Windows Azure Credits: First month after activation you receive $200 of Windows Azure credits. After the first month we provide the following monthly credits: $50 for Professional, $100 for Premium and $150 for Ultimate
    • MSDN Use Rights now supported on Windows Azure Virtual Machines so you can use your dev/test MSDN server licenses in Windows Azure.
    • Discounted MSDN Dev/Test Rates: MSDN subscribers receive a 33% discount on Windows Azure Virtual Machines and 25% discounts on Cloud Services, HDInsight and Web Sites Standard.
    • No need for credit card during sign-up
  • Oracle support: Oracle announced a new strategic partnership with Microsoft. As part of this partnership Oracle will support Oracle software on Windows Server Hyper-V and Windows Azure. This includes also their Java stack. You can read more about this partnership in the official Microsoft Blog.
  • Windows Azure Storage new features: We announced at Build that all queues are now geo replicated for Geo Redundant Storage accounts. In addition, new features were announced to be released by the end of 2013. The most significant ones are:
    • Secondary read-only access that can be utilized to read an eventually consistent copy of your geo-replicated data.
    • Windows Azure Import/Export will enable customers to ship terabytes of data in/out of Windows Azure Blobs by shipping disks.
    • You can find more details about upcoming Azure Storage features in the Windows Azure Storage Team Blog.

 

As you can see, there are a bunch of improvements worth looking at.

Hope it helps.