Best of Build 2014: What’s New in Microsoft Azure

WOW! This past week at our Build 2014 conference, the Azure team announced over 40+ updates to the Microsoft Azure cloud platform, including significant enhancements to Virtual Machines, Storage, Web Sites, Mobile Services and Azure SQL Database.  In addition, a new Azure Preview Portal was released that provides a customizable end-to-end DevOps experience along with Azure Resource Manager, a new framework for composing and managing cloud applications.

Visit the new Azure Preview Portal
The NEW Azure Preview Portal

In this article, I’ll provide a recap of the announcements made during Scott Guthrie’s Microsoft Azure keynote session on Day 2 of Build 2014 with a clickable video index and additional resource links for more information …

Build 2014: Microsoft Azure Keynote Session

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Windows Azure Overview

  • 16 Azure Datacenter Regions Worldwide in 2014  [01:48]
    • Microsoft Azure is first global public cloud provider in mainland China
    • For more details, read the announcement on The Official Microsoft Blog
  • Growing Azure Adoption  [02:15]
    • > 57% of Fortune 500 using Azure
    • > 250K active Websites
    • > 1 million SQL Databases in Azure
    • > 20 trillion storage objects
    • > 2 million requests / sec
    • > 300 million Azure Active Directory users
    • > 13 billion authentications / week
    • > 1 million Developers registered with Visual Studio Online

Virtual Machines


Mobile Services

  • Azure Mobile Services  [45:29]
  • Now supports Azure Active Directory authentication
    • iOS + Android SDK
    • Office 365 API integration
    • Azure Active Directory Premium generally available
  • Demo: Azure Mobile Services
    • New Azure Mobile Services Project Template for Visual Studio 2013
    • Build a .NET Mobile Services Backend
    • Added support for local development, testing and debugging
    • Publish Mobile Services directly from Visual Studio 2013
    • Integration with SharePoint and Office 365
    • Build Cross-Platform Applications with Visual Studio and Xamarin
  • Other Azure Mobile Services Announcements
    • Offline Data Sync
      • See this article for details on getting started with Offline Data Sync
    • Notification Hub updates
      • Mobile Services integration
      • Kindle support
      • Visual Studio tooling


  • Azure SQL Database [01:05:17]
  • Azure SQL Database Premium preview updates coming soon
    • Active Geo-Replication with up to 4 active, readable secondary copies across Azure datacenter regions
    • Azure SQL Database Premium Self-service Restore
    • Restore database to any point-in-time within last 35 days
    • Support for databases up to 500GB in size
  • At GA, Azure SQL Database Premium will support a higher uptime SLA of 99.95%
  • Other Data Announcements [01:09:07]
    • HDInsight
    • Storage
      • Read-access Geo Redundant Storage generally available
      • Zone Redundant Storage (ZRS) will be made available in the coming months as a new redundancy option for Block Blob storage.
      • ZRS storage redundancy is provided across multiple facilities that may be within the same datacenter region or across datacenter regions.

New Azure Preview Portal

Other Recent Azure Announcements

  • Windows Azure is now “Microsoft Azure”
    Effective last week, Windows Azure has been renamed to Microsoft Azure to reflect our strategy and focus on Azure as an enterprise-grade cloud platform that supports one of the broadest set of operating systems, languages and services of any public cloud – from Windows, SQL and .NET to Python, Ruby, Node.js, Java, Linux, Hadoop and Oracle.

  • Virtual Machine Pricing / Offer Changes

    • New “basic” tier of virtual machines as an option for VM sizes A0-A4 costing up to 27% less than corresponding standard tier VM sizes
      • “Basic” tier VMs do not include support for load balancing and auto-scaling
      • “Basic” tier VMs are ideal for production applications that do not require load-balancing, dev/test workloads and batch processing applications
      • Also useful for “bring your own load balancer” scenarios
      • Available starting April 3, 2014.
    • Memory intensive VM sizes A5-A7 costing up to 35% less than Linux instances and 27% less for Windows instances
      • “Basic” tier VMs for memory intensive VM sizes to be made available in coming months
      • New pricing will be effective starting May 1, 2014.
  • Azure Automation
    This new feature allows you to automate the creation, monitoring, deployment and management of cloud resources in your Microsoft Azure subscription using a highly-available workflow execution engine.

  • Azure Media Services

    New capabilities launched in limited public preview include:

    • Live Streaming
    • Secure Delivery Service
    • Office 365 Video Portal
  • New Microsoft Virtual Machine Converter (MVMC) v2.0

    • Migrates VMware 5.5, 5.0 and 4.1 virtual machines to Microsoft Azure and Windows Server Hyper-V

Which new Azure features impress you most?

There were a ton of enhancements announced for Microsoft Azure this past week … which new feature is your favorite? Feel free to post your feedback in the Comments area below.

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See you in the Clouds!