Windows Azure has continued adding features since the last major update at MIX.
Additional features and SDK updates will continue to roll out in the coming weeks and months.
Cool New Feature #1: Geo-Location support
Starting in May, a new option was added to the portal to support geo-locating your code and data. In order to use this most effectively, the idea of an ‘Affinity Group’ was created. This allows you to associate various services under an umbrella label for the location.
Geo-Location is an important aspect of “Web 2.0” applications.
Read more about this feature here and see a complete provisioning walk-through.
Cool New Feature #2: Storage API updates
Last Thursday (5/28), new features were released to the cloud for Windows Azure storage. The long awaited batch transaction capability for tables as well as a new blob copying capability were released.
Additionally, the GetBlockList API was updated to return both committed and uncommitted blocks in blob storage.
Also new versioning mechanism has been added.
New features will be versioned by a new header (“x-ms-version”).
This mechanism is in place to prevent breaking changes from impacting existing clients in the future. It is recommended that you start including this header in all authenticated API calls.
Rounding out these updates were some changes to how property names are stored in table storage as well as the size for Partition and Row keys. Unicode chars and up to 1K key sizes are now supported, respectively. Finally, the timeout values for various storage operations were updated as well.
Please note: There currently is no SDK support for these new storage features.
At this point, you need to use the samples provided on Steve Marx’s blog. A later SDK update will add these features officially.
Windows Azure SDK Update
The May CTP SDK update has been released to the download center. While this release does NOT support the new storage features, it does add a few new capabilities that will be of interest to the Visual Studio 2010 beta testers.
· Support for Visual Studio 2010 Beta 1 (templates, local dev fabric, etc.)
· Updated support for Visual Studio 2008 – you can now configure settings through the UI instead of munging XML files.
· Improved reliability of the local dev fabric for debugging
· Enhanced robustness and stability (aka bug fixes).
Download the Windows Azure Tools for Visual Studio (includes both SDK and tools).
New Windows Azure Applications and Demos
Windows Azure Management Tool (MMC)
The Windows Azure Management Tool was created to manage your storage accounts in Windows Azure. Developed as a managed MMC, the tool allows you to create and manage both blobs and queues. Easily create and manage containers, blobs, and permissions. Add and remove queues, inspect or add messages or empty queues as well.
Bid Now Sample
Bid Now is an online auction site designed to demonstrate how you can build highly scalable consumer applications. This sample is built using Windows Azure and uses Windows Azure Storage. Auctions are processed using Windows Azure Queues and Worker Roles. Authentication is provided via Live Id.
PHP SDK for Windows Azure
As part of Microsoft’s commitment to Interoperability, this open source project is an effort bridge PHP developers to Windows Azure. PHPAzure is an open source project to provide software development kit for Windows Azure and Windows Azure Storage – Blobs, Tables & Queues
Relevant Blog Postings