During the ongoing TechEd event in Houston, Microsoft made a number of significant announcements, the least of which was not the addition of two new tools to Azure cloud computing.
The new Azure ExpressRoute will permit private connections between on-premise environments and Azure. The second tool worthy of mention is the new simplified cloud storage service with a number of security improvements aimed at business segments.
ExpressRoute was scheduled for a preview on 12th. As regards other features, some are up for preview while others will debut later this summer. ExpressRoute meshes with SingTel, Telecity Group, AT&T, BT, Equinix, Zadara Storage and Verizon, offering speedy connects from Azure to that specific infrastructure a company may have up and running in-house or in a co-location data center. ExpressRoute latches on to the service provider’s networks without touching the internet, paving the way for faster and smoother as well as more secure connections and data transfers with 99% SLA, but at a whopping price $ 5000 per month for a 10 Gbps connection with unlimited inbound data transfers and 250 TB of outgoing, a high amount even after the 50% discount currently in force. Cost factor on one side, this move should be more than welcome for companies that are on the move towards adopting hybrid cloud computing. Time will tell.
Meanwhile, Azure Files is attracting more than a fair share of attention. Azure Files is meant for business enterprises and provides a cloud based file sharing server operating via the standard SMB protocol forming part of the Windows API. Azure Files is in the preview mode and is perceived as a valuable transitional tool, marking the bridge between legacy apps for on-premise applications and cloud storage environments.
While developments on that front should prove more than interesting though no one is holding their breath, the other item of interest is Azure API Management, also in the preview mode. This traces its lineage to Apiphany, an API management service acquired by Microsoft not so long ago and seems to have been integrated into Azure. Enterprises can publish their APIs internally as well as to external developers.
Since security will always be a matter of concern, it is heartening to see the launch of Azure Site Recovery, an interation of Hyper V Recovery Manager with some improvements. It will debut next month in the preview mode, projects as a tool to help in disaster recovery. Another tool is a new anti-malware service for clouds and virtual machine environment. Microsoft seems to be mellowing and has teamed up with Trend Micro and Symantec to integrate their security technologies into Azure virtual machines.
What, you will ask is Azure Redis Cache? This is an update announced on the same day, claiming to be an internal load balancing service. At the same time Microsoft announced that the A8 and A9 virtual machines for compute intensive applications on Azure are now available. Developers can expect Microsoft to reserve a permanent IP address for them.
As cloud compute competition hots up, Microsoft seems determined to increase its share by coming up with new services for enterprise customers and lure new ones too.