Windows Azure Import/Export Preview Released
Microsoft today rolled out a preview of
an import/export service for Windows Azure.
In using the service, IT shops
literally send a hard drive containing data to Microsoft (export) or
they elect to receive a hard drive from Microsoft (import) containing
data from their Windows Azure BLOB storage account. The import/export
service is enabled as an option via the Windows Azure Management
The Management Portal initiates the
steps for the whole import/export scenario. It sets up BitLocker
drive encryption, where the IT organization itself holds the key to
the encrypted drives. It also sets up the Federal Express shipping
order. Microsoft will charge a flat drive handling rate of $40,
except when the drive is sent to a datacenter that isn't the
organization's main facility. In that case, extra data transfer fees
are charged, according to Microsoft's import/export
Microsoft only accepts 3.5-inch SATA II
disks, with a maximum of 10 disks per job, according to the company's
documentation page. The idea behind the service is to ship disks
by mail to avoid bandwidth hits in transferring masses of data either
to or from Windows Azure.
Details on the new service are
illustrated in a
blog post by Scott Guthrie, corporate vice president of Microsoft
Server and Tools Business. He recapped some overall Windows Azure
improvements for developers, which were also outlined in a Windows
blog post. Microsoft made it easier in Windows Azure to send push
broadcasts to the notification hubs of mobile users using Boolean
expressions in the code. Web Sockets support for applications can now
be turned on in Windows Azure. Microsoft also indicated that it had
released PHP 5.5 on Windows Azure.
There's also better integration in
Windows Azure for connecting with Team Foundation Services projects,
which is a hosted code collaboration platform. Microsoft is providing
developer analytics in Windows Azure in the Windows Azure Management
Portal. The developer analytics capability uses an app performance
monitoring solution developed by Microsoft partner New Relic, which
can be used to assess the performance of Azure-hosted Web sites.
Microsoft also unveiled a "billing
alert service preview" for Windows Azure. It lets users set up
e-mail notifications to send to themselves whenever a Windows Azure
bill exceeds a specified threshold.
Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.