I thought it appropriate to start out my life on blogs.msdn.com with a HelloWorld style post, after all this is the way many of us start coding in a new language or against a new platform.


I have recently joined Microsoft as a Technical Evangelist for Windows Azure. Whilst being base here in sunny Auckland, my role covers Australia and New Zealand. I focus specifically on the ISV (Independent Software Vendor) / CSV (Cloud Services Vendor) community helping them get their applications in to Windows Azure.
As part of my role, I do everything from training, architecture, consulting, development, debugging and even on the odd occasion some network monitoring and debugging.

Whatever it takes! If you're an ISV/CSV in Australia / New Zealand and you're building an application for Windows Azure then I am your guy! I can offer you the assistance and guidance you need to make your journey to the cloud an enjoyable experience!
Of course it’s not just me ... I am ably assisted by an amazing international team!

Right, so now that you know who I am and what I do, let me kick in to the first, of what will be many, posts about the wonderful exciting ever evolving world I have come to love, called Windows Azure……

If you have been following the development of Windows Azure for any time you would have noticed that it changes often as we keep rolling out awesome feature after awesome feature. Sometimes too quickly to keep up with everything.

In December 2011 we announced a series of updates to the platform, click here to read the full post

· New and updated SDKs
The most notable addition here was the release of the Node.js SDK. The Node SDK provides libraries for using Windows Azure services and tooling for deploying Node applications to Windows Azure.
In addition to this we released a new version of the Java SDK. This version of the Java SDK includes a includes a major update to the Windows Azure plugin for Eclipse.
If being able to run .NET, Node.js, Java, and PHP is not enough, then head on over to "Other" to learn how to bring almost any language to the Windows Azure Platform.

· Pricing Updates
On the back of the recent pricing announcements of a drop in the cost per GB for Windows Azure Storage we announced a few other price changes in December;

o Data transfer costs out of our data centres has dropped by 25%, down to $0.12 USD per GB.

o Service Bus is now free until March 2012, but will be billed at $0.10 per 100 relay hours and $0.01 per 10,000 (64KB) message operations in April 2012.

o Access Control Service will now provide free use through to 01 December 2012 and after that at $1.99 USD per 100,000 transactions.

I think it is encouraging to see that the prices for services on the Windows Azure platform are not cast in stone and are constantly reviewed!

· SQL Azure updates
A couple of big announcements were made for SQL Azure. The first was that the maximum size of a SQL Azure database is now 150GB, up from the previous limit of 50GB. Even better than this announcement was that the price cap remains at $499 USD per month. This is the same price as the previous 50GB database. This means, we’re effectively giving you 100GB of database space for free bringing down the cost per GB for large SQL Azure databases by about 67% per GB.

And if this was not enough the real news for SQL Azure was the announcement of the release of Federations. Federations is the SQL Azure feature that allows you to shard a database. In SQL Azure there are two reasons you would want to shard a database, 1) Performance under heavy load and 2) Size, when a single database gets too big for the max database size. If you wanted to do this in SQL Azure previously you had to implement a bunch of non-trivial code to do this and to figure out which database your request should be routed to etc. now, it is all out of the box.
There are still some capabilities missing from Federations, like the ability to Merge your shards back together again, but these will be added in future updates.
Overall, Exciting stuff!

· A new streamlined home on the web
The WindowsAzure.com site got a complete makeover for this release. It is now much easier to find your way around the site. The site also features a streamlined pricing calculator with quick access to the advanced calculator should you still need that.
The site now also features a much easier sign-up process, including an absolutely free, no-strings-attached trial for you to dip your toes in to the water and see if you like what you see.

With the announcements of support for Node.js, new Eclipse/Java plugin features, and Hadoop on Windows Azure, the December update has increased the focus on support for Open Source Software on the Windows Azure platform. This can only be a good thing for us, it means we open the doors to a whole new world of developers out there!
Come one, come all, bring your applications to Windows Azure!

That’s it for this initial introduction post … stayed tuned for many more to come.