Basic Tier of Compute Instance, Scheduler, Autoscale and other Announcements


Microsoft Azure was an important area of focus in this year’s Build. Along with the brand new Azure Preview Portal, Microsoft also announced the general availability of the Web Sites Basic tier along with enhancements to the Web Sites Standard tier, Active Directory Premium, Scheduler, RA-GRS, Dynamic Routing Gateways and Point-to-Site, AutoScale, and Visual Studio Online. In addition, Azure Automation public preview was announced and Azure Backup pricing was reduced.

A new Basic tier of compute instances offers similar CPU and memory configurations as the Standard tier of instances, but these instances cost up to 26.67 percent less. The Basic tier doesn’t provide load-balancing and automatic scaling features, as the Standard tier does. Instances in the Basic tier are best suited for applications such as single-instance production workloads, development workloads, test servers, and batch processing, where those features might not be required. Visit the Virtual Machines Pricing Details here.

Azure Web Sites Basic tier now generally available (GA); Web Sites Basic tier, a new entry-level tier, provides support for small, medium, and large virtual machine (VM) sizes and enables you to scale up to three VM instances. The Basic tier includes 10 GB of storage and supports custom domains. SSL is available at standard rates. Advanced features like AutoScale, Backup, web jobs, and staging slots require customers to subscribe to the Standard tier. Web Sites customers using the Standard tier will now receive even more value. At no additional cost, customers can now upload and use five SNI and one IP SSL certificates with 50 GB of storage. Plus, Standard tier customers will now receive all the new advanced capabilities, including live debugging, Backup, and site slots. Standard tier instances support up to 500 websites; scale up to 10 VM instances; and offer AutoScale, which dynamically adds or removes VM instances based on actual customer traffic. Visit the Web Sites Pricing Details website here.

Azure Active Directory Premium, the Microsoft identity and access management solution for the cloud, provides synchronization with on-premises directories, single sign-on to hundreds of SaaS applications, machine learning–based security and usage reports, alerting, and Multi-Factor Authentication. Azure Active Directory Premium also empowers end users with self-service password reset, delegated group management, and a customizable environment for launching enterprise and consumer applications. It includes entitlement to Forefront Identity Manager Server and Client Access Licenses. Azure Active Directory Premium will be available for purchase through the Microsoft Enterprise Agreement volume licensing program. For more information, visit the Azure Identity and Access Management website.

All current subscribers of the Azure Active Directory Premium preview have until July 1, 2014 to decide whether they want to purchase the service. Until then, they can use all capabilities, free of charge.

Using Scheduler, you can invoke actions—such as calling HTTP/S endpoints or posting a message to a storage queue—on any schedule. With Scheduler, you create jobs in the cloud that reliably call services both inside and outside of Azure, and then run those jobs on demand, on a regularly recurring schedule, or on a designated future date. Scheduler is backed by a 99.9 percent SLA. For pricing details, visit the Scheduler website.

The new read-access service is now available as another option for geographically replicated storage accounts. As with other options, the stored content is replicated to a secondary location, but now you can have read access to the secondary location in case of a major disaster in the primary location. The secondary location is in the same region but is hundreds of miles from the primary location. To use this service, go to the Azure Management Portal, where you can enable Read-Access Geographically Redundant Storage (RA-GRS) for your storage account. You can also do this through the Azure Service Management API. Once the account is enabled, you will get the endpoint name for your secondary endpoint. You can send read requests to that secondary endpoint to read your data. In addition, you can query the endpoint to find out the replication lag for your account. Visit the Storage Pricing Details website here.

If you choose not to continue using the RA-GRS service at the new prices, you can use the Azure Management Portal to disable RA-GRS for your storage account.

Last year, Microsoft announced a feature called Dynamic Routing Gateway and Point-to-Site VPN, which supports route-based VPNs and allows you to connect individual computers to a virtual network in Azure. That feature is now generally available. The Dynamic Routing VPN Gateway in a virtual network will now have the same SLA as the Static Routing VPN Gateway. The Dynamic Routing VPN Gateway will continue to be free until May 1, 2014. Starting May 2, 2014, it will be charged at the general availability price.

In Azure, you can configure your application to automatically scale up or down to accommodate current demand, and use auto-scaling rules to minimize costs. AutoScale is now generally available for Virtual Machines, Cloud Services, Web Sites, and Mobile Services. For more information about how to use AutoScale, visit How to scale an application and How to scale web sites.

Visual Studio Online, the cloud solution that enables development teams to plan, build, and ship software across a variety of platforms is now available with a financially backed SLA. It will guide you through setting up an environment for you or your team that includes everything from hosted Git repositories and project-tracking tools, to continuous integration and deployment to Azure—all without having to install or configure a single server. For more information, visit the Visual Studio Online website.

Azure Automation allows you to automate processes for your infrastructure and application lifecycle by enabling integration, orchestration, and automation of tasks using Runbooks built on Windows PowerShell Workflow. With Automation, you can author Windows PowerShell Runbooks that integrate into other Azure services, as well as external systems you use to deliver your end to end tasks that simplify cloud management. For more information on Azure Automation, visit the Automation webpage.

There is no charge for Azure Automation during preview, and the general availability date has not yet been determined.

Effective April 1, 2014, customers will see lower prices for Backup. Backup helps you protect important server data off-site with automated backup to Azure. Now you can benefit from simple, reliable off-site data protection at a lower cost. For more information, visit the Azure Backup website.

That’s a quick wrap-up on the announcements made today w.r.t Microsoft Azure at Build Conference.

Source: Microsoft Azure Email Announcements