Microsoft introduced a laundry list of new features today for Windows Azure, including general availability of SQL Server AlwaysOn support, notification hubs and autoscale improvements.
The new features have some common themes, focusing on systems automation that allows for use cases such as with Bing, which is using Azure notifications to send news updates to its users.
SQL Server AlwaysOn Availability is the high availability and disaster recovery that was originally released with SQL Server 2012. It provides multiple database failover, replicas and configuration failover policies. As part of general availability, Azure now supports “the complete SQL Server AlwaysOn Availability Groups technology stack with Windows Azure Virtual Machines – including enabling support for SQL Server Availability Group Listeners. “
Also available are replicas for backup to assure global availability and disaster recovery. In that vein, Azure is offering on-premise SQL servers that can now be backed up in Windows Azure. So if there is a failover at the data center, Azure can back it up to keep things running smoothly.
The notifications features as part of this release are primarily designed for mobile app developers who send simultaneous push notifications in a low-latency way with the ability to handle localization, multiple platform devices, and user personalization. The Bing news app is using the notification feature to send out news updates.
The Windows Azure team is also offering new autoscaling features such as scheduled rules to optimize performance and cost.
This is a huge release. I’d recommend reading Scott Guthrie’s full post, linked above, to get a detailed picture of what Windows Azure is offering with this latest update.
Feature updates have become a weekly occurrence for Windows Azure over the past several months. putting them on par with Amazon Web Services and Google in terms of improvements to their respective cloud infrastructures.