Today at the MIX conference we announced the first production release of Windows Azure AppFabric Caching service and a release of a new version of the production Access Control service. These two AppFabric services are particularly appealing and powerful for web development.

The Caching service is a distributed, in-memory, application cache service that accelerates the performance of Windows Azure and SQL Azure applications by allowing you to keep data in-memory and saving you the need to retrieve that data from storage or database.

Ebbe George Haabendal Brandstrup, CTO and co-founder of Pixel Pandemic, a company developing a unique game engine technology for persistent browser based MMORPGs, which is already using the Caching service as part of their solution is quoted saying that:

“We're very happy with how Azure and the caching service is coming along.
Most often, people use a distributed cache to relieve DB load and they'll accept that data in the cache lags behind with a certain delay. In our case, we use the cache as the complete and current representation of all game and player state in our games. That puts a lot extra requirements on the reliability of the cache. Any failed communication when writing state changes must be detectable and gracefully handled in order to prevent data loss for players and with the Azure caching service we’ve been able to meet those requirements.”

The new version of the Access Control service adds all the great capabilities that provide a Single-Sign-On experience to applications by integrating with standards-based identity providers, including enterprise directories such as Active Directory®, and web identities such as Windows Live ID, Google, Yahoo! and Facebook.

Niels Hartvig, Founder of Umbraco, one of the most deployed Web Content Management Systems on the Microsoft stack, which can be integrated easily with the Access Control service through an extension, is quoted saying:

“We're excited about the very diverse integration scenarios the ACS (Access Control service) extension for Umbraco allows. The ACS Extension for Umbraco is one great example of what is possible with Windows Azure and the Microsoft Web Platform.”

At the PDC’10, we highlighted these two services as Community Technology Previews (CTPs) to get broad customer trial. After several months of listening to customer feedback during this preview period and making customer-requested enhancements, we’re now pleased to release them as production services with full SLAs.

The updated Access Control service is now live, and Caching will be released at the end of April.

Both services will have a promotion period of a few months in which customers can start using them for no charge.

To learn more about these services please use the following resources:

Caching:

Access Control:

The Access Control service is already available at our production environment at: http://appfabric.azure.com.

The Caching service is available on our previews environment at: http://portal.appfabriclabs.com/ and will be added to the production environment when released at the end of April. So be sure to login and start using the new capabilities.

If you have any questions, be sure to visit our Windows Azure Platform Forums.

For questions specifically on the Caching service visit the Windows Azure AppFabric CTP Forum.

For questions specifically on the Access Control service visit the Security for the Windows Azure Platform section of the forums.

If you have not signed up for Windows Azure AppFabric yet, and would like to start using these services, be sure to take advantage of our free trial offer. Just click on the image below and get started today!

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The Windows Azure AppFabric Team.