Windows Azure Gets More Competitive With AWS, Launches New Mobile Features, Website Scaling, Data Sync And More

Windows Azure has added eight new features, including new mobile services, website scaling, and data sync.

Vice President Scott Guthrie detailed the new features on his blog. Here are some of the more noteworthy improvements:

Mobile Services: Better capability to schedule background jobs so the user experience doesn’t get disrupted. Jobs can be scheduled on pre-set time intervals, allowing the developer to perform scenarios without creating or managing a separate virtual machine. In addition, Azure mobile services are now available in Northern Europe. Previously, Windows Azure Mobile Services was only supported in the US East and US West regions of Windows Azure.

Website Scaling: Developers can now scale websites to six shared instances and up to 10 reserved instances. These can be small, medium or large in size. Previously, a developer could only scale to three shared instances and three reserved ones. Guthrie also writes that Azure now has a new custom create workflow that allows for the configuration of source control settings as part of the site creation.


Data Sync: SQL Data Sync Services are now available from within the new Windows Azure Management Portal. Guthrie explains that SQL Data Sync lets you synchronize data between multiple SQL databases. These SQL databases can span across your on-premises environment and the cloud, or across multiple cloud-hosted databases that might include multiple Windows Azure regions around the world.

Here’s the full list of what’s available:

  • Mobile Services (job scheduler support, Europe Region Support, Command Line Support)
  • Web Sites (scale improvements, integrated source control)
  • SQL Data Sync (support in the new HTML portal)
  • ACS Management (support in the new HTML portal)
  • Media Services (job and task management, blob storage support, reserved compute)
  • Virtual Network enhancements
  • Subscription Filtering Support
  • Windows Azure Store (now available in more countries)

There have been a number of recent updates to Windows Azure, which illustrates that it trying to be more competitive with Amazon Web Services (AWS). Azure is still a ways from being a true challenger but it has continually been adding new features that shows that it is intent on closing the gap.

Earlier this month, the team reported that a developer can do automatic push updates for iOS mobile apps. It also announced a drop in price for storage. Earlier this week Forrester Research reported that Azure is second in popularity with developers to AWS. It’s still far behind Amazon Web Services, but the Azure team is showing it has credibility with developers. That’s a big deal, showing that a community is indeed emerging on the Azure cloud.