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Microsoft Enhancing Azure Management, Expanding U.S. Locations

Microsoft is adding improvements to its Azure Portal preview, which are expected to arrive next week.

The Azure Portal is a new dashboard for IT pros and developers using Microsoft Azure cloud services. Introduced as a preview in April, Azure Portal shows service health and service costs, as well as application lifecycle changes for developers, although it has limited capabilities in its current preview form.

Next week, Azure Portal preview users will start to get some additional capabilities. It will be possible to deploy application templates across multiple machines, as across SharePoint server farms. IT pros will be able to manage infrastructure services (virtual machines and virtual networks) and platform services (Web sites and data bases) from the same Resource Group. Microsoft also plans to make it easier to provision Azure SQL Databases across the various editions (Basic, Standard, Premium, Business and Web), according to its announcement.

The announcement added a few other Azure details, which likely will get further explained as Microsoft approaches its Worldwide Partner Conference, happening next week in Washington, D.C.

For instance, Microsoft plans to expand its U.S. Azure datacenter locations. Next week, the company expects to open two U.S. East facilities, located in Iowa and Virginia, along with a U.S. Central facility. Those new facilities are being opened to keep pace with demand. Microsoft claims to be doubling its Azure capacity "every six to nine months."

Microsoft is also expanding its partnership with Equinix, which provides high-bandwidth connections to Microsoft Azure for businesses via Microsoft's ExpressRoute service in the United States and in Europe. Equinix will roll out the ExpressRoute service in six more locations around the globe, according to Microsoft's announcement, although the locations weren't mentioned.

Also this month, Microsoft is set to roll out a preview of its Azure machine learning service, called "Azure ML." Supposedly, Azure ML, which is a set of templates, tools and workflows, will simplify things for developers, allowing them to build predictive analytics services without having to have a data scientist on hand.

Azure ML could be used for so-called "Internet of things" kinds of analyses, or extracting data from devices or sensors. Microsoft suggested that Azure ML could be used "to identify your business' most influential clients, monitor inventory so it's at the right place at the right time, and predict results." John Platt, a Microsoft Research Distinguished Scientist, explained that Azure ML lets developers tap Microsoft's cloud resources, instead of having to build applications that are tied to "one particular data management platform (such as SQL)."

Lastly, Microsoft plans to release two new StorSimple appliances next month. The appliances allow organizations to manage data storage across local infrastructure as well as Microsoft Azure cloud infrastructure.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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