Many New Windows Azure Platform Features – Part 2

The first day of BUILD sure was exciting.  We got to see a lot of what Microsoft has been working on for the next version of Windows.  I’m really excited about what the feature holds.  It’s sure to be a fun year or so while Microsoft continues to build and gather feedback on Windows 8.

While day 1 was exciting, there wasn’t a lot in the first keynote if your primary development area is Windows Azure.  That sure changed with the day 2 keynote!  Day 2 was all about the developer, and Windows Azure received a lot of attention!  Below are just a few of the Windows Azure nuggets of awesomeness unveiled on day 2 at BUILD.  I’ll have more details on these new updates coming soon.

Windows Azure Toolkit for Windows 8

Much like the Windows Azure toolkits for Windows Phone 7, iOS, and Android made it very easy to write Windows Azure applications/services for those platforms, the Windows Azure Toolkit for Windows 8 promises to make it easy to write cloud enabled applications for the upcoming Windows 8.  I’m eager to get my hands on the Windows 8 developer preview and trying out this new toolkit.

Windows Azure SDK 1.5 (a.k.a. “Windows Azure Tools for Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 – September 2010”)

The latest Windows Azure SDK includes several new features and enhancements.

  • Updates to csupload.exe – Allows you to upload service certificates.
  • New csencrypt.exe tool

There is a new command line tool called csencrypt.exe which helps you to create and encrypt passwords for managing Remote Desktop connections to Windows Azure instances.  With this tool, you can create a new certificate that can be used for encrypting passwords, view all the certificates on your machine that can be used for encrypting passwords, and create a new encrypted password.  The really nice aspect here is that now it is very easy to change a password and/or certificate thumbprint that is used in your Remote Desktop connection.  Meaning, you can now use csencrypt.exe to generate the new password, copy and paste it into your CSCFG, and update your configuration in the portal.  Nice and easy!

  • Tooling enhancements

There are also a few welcome enhancements to the tooling to make deployments a little bit nicer.  One is better package validation as part of the deployment process from within Visual Studio.  For example, let’s say I configured Remote Desktop, but I forgot to upload the certificate to the service in the portal.  Visual Studio will provide a validation warning and halt the deployment.

There is also a re-architected emulator for improved performance and fidelity between local and cloud development.

  • Geo-Replication for Windows Azure Storage

This is HUGE!  I’m often asked about disaster recovery options with Windows Azure storage (in the event of a major disaster with a Windows Azure data center).  There really wasn’t a platform feature that solved this problem, until today.  Previously customers would have to develop their own solution – something that was somewhat of an adoption barrier.  Now, Windows Azure storage geo-replication is enabled for blobs and tables!  This new feature will asynchronously replicate your data to another Windows Azure data center within the same region (for example, North Central US to South Central US, not a US data center to a European data center).

More information on what’s new in Windows Azure SDK 1.5 can be found on MSDN at

Windows Azure AppFabric SDK 1.5

The latest Windows Azure AppFabric SDK will allow you to work with the latest release of the Windows Azure AppFabric Service Bus.  This enables support for features such as queues, topics, and subscriptions.  Previously these features were released as a CTP release back in May 2011.  Today they’re fully available and supported as part of the Windows Azure Platform.  Commence rejoicing now!

Sweeeeeeta!  How do I get this awesomeness?

You can download both of these very easily from the Web Platform Installer. Once the Web PI is launched, simply go to the Products section and scroll nearly to the bottom (or search for “Azure” in the search box).

As always, be sure to visit the Windows Azure team blog for the official announcements and links to more details.

4 thoughts on “Many New Windows Azure Platform Features – Part 2

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