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Build 2013: Microsoft Launches Azure Mobile Services

Microsoft made several announcements concerning the Azure cloud platform during today's keynote at the company's annual Build developer conference. Chief among them the general availability of Azure Mobile Services and Azure Web Sites.

Azure Mobile Services allows developers to store data on Microsoft's cloud platform for their mobile applications. The services support Windows, Android and iOS apps, and provide a way to authenticate users and send push notifications. They're also designed to scale.

Azure Web Sites, which has been in preview for more than a year, allows developers to provision Web apps on the Azure cloud. The services use free server-side Web frameworks, such as Microsoft's ASP.NET. "Developers using Visual Studio can right-click on any ASP.NET site in Solution Explorer to deploy their Web site," Microsoft's product Web site explains.

Satya Nadella, president of Microsoft's Server and Tools Group, showed off the new services, saying IT is in the midst of an evolution of the back end, primarily in the cloud.

"The context of back end is the apps and the technologies, as well as the devices and the experiences, that all of us collecting are building," Nadella said. "There's not an embedded system, not a sensor, not a device experience that is not connected back to a cloud service."

Nadella also offered a preview of Windows Azure BizTalk Services, new auto-scaling capability that is baked into the cloud platform. Azure BizTalk provides a basic set of rules for dynamic scaling of datacenter compute capacity. The feature will allow developers to set the maximum and minimum number of servers to use at a given time. Microsoft was promoting this feature at the conference primarily as a cost-saver.

Microsoft gave a sneak preview of application access enhancements for Windows Azure Active Directory, which provides organizations and ISVs with a single sign-on experience to access cloud-based applications.

Acknowledging the importance of the cloud, Microsoft has adopted an even faster cadence for releases of new server and cloud technologies, Nadella said, and he shared some statistics with attendees gathered in San Francisco's Moscone center: The company now has more than 250,000 Azure customers and it's adding a thousand customers a day. More than 50 percent of Fortune 500 companies are using Azure, and the company counts 65 million active users.

About the Author

John K. Waters is a freelance author and journalist based in Silicon Valley. His latest book is The Everything Guide to Social Media. Follow John on Twitter, read his blog on ADTmag.com, check out his author page on Amazon, or e-mail him at john@watersworks.com.


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