Wow, last night I watched the keynote for Tech Ed North America, and I have to say I’m pretty proud of all of the advancements in our products. Not only Azure, but the upcoming Windows Server 2012 R2, our management capabilities, and the Windows Core itself. Something else that isn’t always apparent, is the cadence at which we are releasing these major updates.

The advancements we’ve announced make the Windows stack the absolute best IT stack for serving enterprise workloads. The advancements in storage alone were really impressive. Windows Server was already the fastest server based disk IO. Now, with tiered storage, from a remote file server we can achieve 124,123.90 IOs/Sec. We can even do a live migration of a running virtual machine on deduped (de duplicated) storage faster than on non-deduped storage. For example they demoed a SQL Server with 8GB of RAM running under heavy load completing a live migration in 22 seconds on deduped storage.  That is a whole new level of fast.

But the best part for me was the Azure goodness. I am rapidly becoming a Scott Guthrie fanboy.  We’ve released several new features, added to the management portal and made improvements across the board.

  • Dev/Test in the Cloud: MSDN Use Rights, Unbeatable MSDN Discount Rates, MSDN Monetary Credits
  • BizTalk Services: Great new service for Windows Azure that enables EDI and EAI integration in the cloud
  • Per-Minute Billing and No Charge for Stopped VMs: Now only get charged for the exact minutes of compute you use, no compute charges for stopped VMs
  • SSL Support with Web Sites: Support for both IP Address and SNI based SSL bindings on custom web-site domains
  • Active Directory: Updated directory sync utility, ability to manage Office 365 directory tenants from Windows Azure Management Portal
  • Free Trial: More flexible Free Trial offer

We made some very nice improvements to the billing and especially the MSDN benefits.

  • No Charge for Stopped VMs (did we say that stopped VMs won’t cost you anything?)
  • Pay by the Minute Billing (not rounded up to the nearest hour any more)
  • MSDN Use Rights now supported on Windows Azure (this means you can use your MSDN server licenses for non-production dev-test in Azure VMs)
  • Heavily Discounted MSDN Dev/Test Rates
  • MSDN Monetary Credits
  • Portal Support for Better Tracking MSDN Monetary Credit Usage

In conjunction with Teched North America we launched a major revamp of the Windowsazure.com site.  We’ve taken the site from being “features focused” to “solution focused”.  The new solution pages include benefits, scenarios, and getting started sections for each solution.  Additionally, each scenario within a solution includes a customer perspective and several case studies so you can find out how Azure is being used in real-world scenarios. 

Here are some of the updates you’ll see on the site:

  • New homepage
  • 8 new solution pages
  • New menu navigation
  • An ITPro focused “Enterprise IT” page
  • New Pricing Pages
  • New Events Pages
  • New Purchase Options page
  • New Members Offers page
  • Refreshed Blog design
  • Simplified Partner page
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So if you haven’t yet, start your FREE TRIAL and if you are an MSDN subscriber, Scott Guthrie mentioned something about being able to win an Aston Martin if you activate your benefits then build and deploy an app by September. Watch his blog for details.