A few months ago, at the Professional Developer Conference (PDC), we released Community Technology Previews (CTPs) and made several announcements regarding new services and capabilities we are adding to the Windows Azure Platform. Ever since then we have been listening to customer feedback and working hard on delivering against our roadmap. You can find more details on these deliveries in my previous two blog posts on SQL Azure and Windows Azure Marketplace DataMarket.

Today at the MIX conference we announced the production release of two of the services that CTPed at PDC: the Windows Azure AppFabric Caching and Access Control services. The updated Access Control is now live, and Caching will be released at the end of April.

These two services are particularly appealing to web developers. The Caching service seamlessly accelerates applications by storing data in memory, and the Access Control service enables the developer to provide users with a single-sign-on experience by providing out-of-the-box support for identities such as Windows Live ID, Google, Yahoo!, Facebook, as well as enterprise identities such as Active Directory.

Pixel Pandemic, a company developing a unique game engine technology for persistent browser based MMORPGs, is already using the Caching service as part of their solution. Here is a quote from Ebbe George Haabendal Brandstrup, CTO and co-founder, regarding their use of the Caching service:

“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.”

Umbraco, one of the most deployed Web Content Management Systems on the Microsoft stack, can be easily integrated with the Access Control service through an extension. Here is a quote from Niels Hartvig, founder of the company, regarding the Access Control service:

“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.”

You can read more about these services and the release announcement on the Windows Azure AppFabric Team Blog.

We are continuing to innovate and move quickly in our cloud services and release new services as well as enhance our existing services every few months.

The releases of these two services are a great enhancement to our cloud services offering enabling developers to more easily build applications on top of the Windows Azure Platform.

Look forward to more CTPs and releases in the coming months!