Windows Azure Adds Iaas, Virtual Machine, Virtual Network and Hourly Billing Support
Microsoft has announced the availability of Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) support for Windows Azure in addition to the release of new VM image templates and other feature enhancements. Microsoft also slashed pricing of Windows Azure Virtual Machines (IaaS) and cloud Services (PaaS) VMs to 21% - 33% depending upon the size and number of CPU cores.
Windows Azure Virtual Machines can be created from a wide range of Windows and Linux based built-in templates from within the Windows Azure Management Portal. It is also possible to upload and run your own custom-built VHD images.
As of the time of this writing, Microsoft provides VM templates for Windows Server 2012, Windows Server 2008 R2, SQL Server 2012, BizTalk Server 2013, SharePoint Server 2013, Ubuntu, CentOS and SUSE Linux distributions.
"Windows Azure uses the same Hyper-V virtualization service built-into Windows Server 2012, which means that you can create and use a common set of VHDs across your on-premises and cloud environments," said Scott Guthurie, Microsoft.
In order to create a virtual machine using Windows Azure Management Portal, you need to select New | Virtual Machine | Quick Create option. You can then make use of Remote PowerShell, SSH or Terminal Server to manage and monitor the VM. Moreover, it is also possible to attach and use data disks up to 1 TB for storage purposes.
The built-in load balancer included with Windows Azure VM enables you to distribute traffic sent to a single IP address/port to multiple VM machine instances which ultimately provides better fault tolerance.
In addition to virtual machines, Microsoft has also released Windows Azure Virtual Networks that enables you to create a virtual private network with persistent private IPs (10.x, 172.x, 192.x). Moreover, you will be able to point your virtual machines to a DNS server on-premises or a DNS server running in Windows Azure on the same virtual network including the ability to establish cross premises connectivity over site to site IPsec VPNs. It also enables you to create several virtual machines and cloud services within a single virtual network and have them communicate using the private address space.
In order to create a new virtual network, select New | Networks | Virtual Network | Quick Create option from the management portal. Even though virtual networks can be created free of cost, you need to pay hourly and bandwidth usage fee if you enable VPN gateway.
Microsoft also introduced hourly billing support for SQL Server and BizTalk Server virtual machine images, which enables you to pay only for the exact hours you work with these images rather than paying an upfront cost.
Microsoft is scheduled to release a SharePoint deployment guide as well as PowerShell scripts that make it easy to get started with SharePoint on Windows Azure and also administer SharePoint 2013 directly using PowerShell.
Microsoft also announced the introduction of 4 core x 28GB RAM and 8 core x 56GB RAM VM sizes which enables you to run larger workloads with Windows Azure.
Windows Azure provides an ability to customize the login name of the administrator account when creating VM images. Moreover, the OS disk size has been increased to 127 GB and remote PowerShell has been enabled by default in all Windows Server OS images which includes SQL Server, BizTalk Server and SharePoint images.
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Martin Thompson Jul 27, 2014