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Windows Azure To Gain Auto-Scaling, Single Sign-On Improvements

Microsoft's Windows Azure cloud service is slated to support dynamic auto-scaling and other key enhancements, company officials said during the second day of the Microsoft Build conference taking place in San Francisco this week.

Windows Azure took center stage during the keynote, as Microsoft's top execs touted a number of deliverables -- some available now, others in the pipeline. In addition to the new auto-scaling capability, Microsoft is planning to upgrade its recently launched Windows Azure Active Directory with new single sign-on capabilities.

The company also announced the release of several features that were in preview, including Windows Azure Mobile Services and Windows Azure Web Sites.

While Windows Azure has always enabled customers to scale up and scale down their apps, it required them to write custom scripts in order to enable that capability, said Microsoft Corporate VP for Windows Azure Scott Guthrie. The test case for the new auto-scaling capability is Microsoft's own Skype service, which until now was hosted on its own servers. By moving to Windows Azure, Skype can scale to the capacity it requires as fluctuations in usage require, according to Guthrie.

"We're going to make this a lot easier by baking in auto-scale capability directly into Windows Azure," Guthrie said during the keynote presentation. "This is going to make it trivially easy for anyone to start taking advantage of this kind of dynamic scale environment and yield the same cost basis."

The auto-scaling feature is now available in preview for those using Windows Azure Web Sites, Cloud Services and Virtual Machines. A menu of other services, including availability, monitoring and alerting, are also available. Only alerts and monitoring are in preview for Windows Azure Mobile Services.

Guthrie also provided a preview of how Microsoft will let SaaS providers and ISVs authenticate to their applications via Windows Azure Active Directory. In a demonstration he showed how they can integrate existing enterprise security credentials, having single sign-on within the application. "This makes it really, really easy for you now to build your own custom applications, host them in the cloud and enable enterprise security throughout," he said.

In addition, Guthrie previewed how Windows Azure Active Directory will also make it easier for enterprises to integrate existing SaaS-based apps and have the same type of single sign-on support with Active Directory.

The preview was just a demo. Microsoft didn't release a beta or preview for the Windows Azure Active Directory improvements. The company will disclose more details in the coming weeks, according to a company spokeswoman.

In other cloud developments at Build, Microsoft announced the general availability of Windows Azure Web Sites, which as the name implies is aimed at letting developers build and host Web sites. The company also released Windows Azure Mobile Services, designed to let developers build apps for iOS, Android and Windows Phone that are cloud-enabled.


Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 06/27/2013 at 12:49 PM


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