Last Thursday night the Windows Azure team announced the latest updates to Windows Azure, to the Windows Azure SDK, and to the Windows Azure Management Portal at at the ‘Meet Windows Azure’ event.

This release introduces a new Management Portal that provides an enhanced environment for managing web sites, virtual machines, cloud services, SQL Database instances, storage, and virtual networks in Windows Azure. In addition, the portal provides an enhanced work environment for developers and IT pros with one single portal for all key workloads and an integrated developer experience, enabling you to deploy web sites or cloud services developed in Microsoft Visual Studio 2010, Visual Studio 2012, and WebMatrix, including cross-platform development in Node.js, Java, and PHP.

The new release also enables you to quickly create web sites in the Management Portal - the new portal lets you quickly and easily create and deploy web sites with support for multiple application frameworks. Popular open source applications are preloaded, including WordPress, Drupal, Joomla!, and Umbraco.

Finally, Windows Azure now supports Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). You can run virtual machines that maintain their state even in the event of a reboot or a hardware failure. You can also load balance traffic sent to two or more Windows Azure virtual machine instances using load-balanced sets. For more information, see Virtual Machines. You can create Linux images and run them in Windows Azure virtual machines. The platform will allow customers to supply certificates for usage in creating secure communication to the Linux VM using Secure Shell (SSH).

Our own local version of this event, Microsoft Cloud Day: Windows Azure, Windows 8, Devices and Open Source innovations is schedule for 22nd June – if you’re building application for the cloud, or thinking about it, then this is the event for you. With tracks on core platform services like infrastructure and big data, plus sessions on PHP, Java, node.js, and getting your mobile app (Android/iOS/Windows Phone/Windows 8) hosted in the cloud, and a keynote by Scott Guthrie, it’s going to be an fascinating, exciting day.