Great news for the Azure community.  The Windows Azure SDK and Windows Azure Tools for Microsoft Visual Studio (November 2010) have been released!  This release contains a lot of new features and most of them were announced at PDC.

The release can be downloaded here.

The overview of new features:

  • Virtual Machine (VM) Role (Beta):Allows you to create a custom VHD image using Windows Server 2008 R2 and host it in the cloud.
  • Remote Desktop Access: Enables connecting to individual service instances using a Remote Desktop client.
  • Full IIS Support in a Web role: Enables hosting Windows Azure web roles in a IIS hosting environment.
  • Elevated Privileges: Enables performing tasks with elevated privileges within a service instance.
  • Virtual Network (CTP): Enables support for Windows Azure Connect, which provides IP-level connectivity between on-premises and Windows Azure resources.
  • Diagnostics: Enhancements to Windows Azure Diagnostics enable collection of diagnostics data in more error conditions.
  • Networking Enhancements: Enables roles to restrict inter-role traffic, fixed ports on InputEndpoints.
  • Performance Improvement: Significant performance improvement local machine deployment.

This blog shows a first highlight of the new features that are part of the new SDK.

Extra small instance size

One of the nice features that many people have been asking for is the introduction of a new, lightweight, VM size: the Extra small instance.  They come with a small amount of memory (786 MB) and a low CPU speed (1Ghz), but at a very low cost (5ct / compute hour).  Configuring this is very easy, through the Role Configuration tab.

Remote desktop features

It is now possible to connect to an Azure instance, by using a Remote Desktop Connection.  The publishing wizard has been updated to enable this easily.  When deploying an application, you can provide a user name and a password for a remote desktop user, together with a certificate that has to be uploaded to the Azure portal, after exporting it with the private key.  (Export certificate – Browse to the portal – Your project – Installed Certificates – Manage – Upload certificate)

Public ports in endpoints

In previous SDK’s, it was unknown until at runtime at what actual port the role endpoints were hosted.  This can now be fixed and configured in the endpoints tab page on an Azure role:

Using Azure Connect

The Azure Connect feature is a very interesting feature that allows to set up a virtual network between Azure roles and the local network.  The property page of the Azure role allows to configure the specific token that is need for the Azure Connect feature.

Sam Vanhoutte, Codit