The Great Azure Update – 1.3, November 2010

Well here we are with the single biggest release for Windows Azure since it became available earlier this year. Little about this update is a surprise as everyone was covered in depth at PDC10 back in October. But as of yesterday we have the new 1.3 SDK and associated training kit. We also got an updated Windows Azure Management Portal. I won’t be diving deeply into any of these for the moment, the Windows Azure team has their post up on it and is doing a webcast tomorrow. So it seems unnecessary.

What I do want to do today is call out a couple things that the community at large has brought to light about the updates.

Wade Wegner, Microsoft’s Technical Evangelist for the Windows Azure AppFabric has invested a non-trivial amount of time updating the BidNow sample used at PDC for the latest release. I have it on good authority, that this is something Wade was really passionate about doing and excited to finally be able to share with the world.

The Azure Storage team has a blog post that outlines fixes, bugs, and breaking changes in the Azure 1.3 SDK.

The 1.3 Azure SDK is only for VS 2010 and will automatically update any cloud service solution you open once its been loaded. Additionally, all the new 1.3 features can not be used by deployed services until they are rebuilt using the new SDK and redeployed. This includes features like the remote desktop.

The new management portal includes enhanced functionality for managing Windows Azure and SQL Azure services. However, as yet there is no updated portal for the Azure AppFabric. Hopefully this will come soon. Additionally, if you’re using IE9, be sure to enable pop-ups when at the portal or you won’t be able to launch the SQL Azure Management Portal (previously known as project “Houston”).

The new portal, being a web app, takes a few moments to get your head wrapped around. So I put together a quick guide using the following image.

image

The “Silo” Selection area in the lower left is where we select which set of assets (SQL Azure, Azure AppFabric, Azure Connect, etc…) we want to work with. Once an area has been selected, we can then jump a bit on the left to the Navigation section to move around within our selected silo, switching SQL Azure database servers or moving between Windows Azure services. Once we select an item in the Navigation menu, we can then view it in the large Workspace area. Lastly, across the top is our tool bar or a Context Menu. I prefer the term context menu because the options on this menu and their enabled/disable state will vary depending on your selections in the other areas.

You can switch back and forth between the new and old portals easily. Just look for the links at the top (in the old) or bottom (on the new). This is helpful because not everything in the old portal is in the new one. I was helping a friend with a presentation and noticed the new portal doesn’t have the handy “connection strings” button that was in the old SQL Azure portal.

I can’t wait to start digging into this but unfortunately I’m still preparing for my talk on the Azure AppFabric at next week’s AzureUG.NET user group meeting. So get out there and start playing for me! I’ll catch up as soon as I can.

PS – ok Wade. Can I go to bed now? Winking smile

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