Microsoft Revamps Azure Preview Portal, Upgrades Database Security

Microsoft issues new quality of life improvements for its cloud application management and monitoring toolset and rolls out a new Azure SQL Database security feature.

Azure cloud

Azure cloud administrators will notice new enhancements to Preview Portal this month that are meant to help make their app upkeep tasks easier.

First announced at last year's Build 2014 conference in San Francisco, Azure Preview Portal is an integrated collection of tools that consolidate cloud app management, monitoring and DevOps capabilities. "Imagine a world where infrastructure and platform services blend together in one seamless experience, so developers and IT professionals no longer have to work in disparate environments in the cloud," said Microsoft Executive Vice President Scott Guthrie during the reveal. "Microsoft has been rapidly innovating to solve this problem, and we have taken a big step toward that vision today."

With the new February update, the company is looking to make the experience a bit more seamless with a host of user interface (UI) improvements, according to Leon Welicki, principal program manager lead at Azure Websites.

Foremost is the addition of a long-awaited feature: keyboard shortcuts. "Enabling keyboard shortcuts has been a very common and popular ask since we first unveiled the Azure Preview Portal," said Welicki in a blog post. "We have added keyboard shortcuts to open the hubs and to navigate between the blades." The full list of shortcuts is available in a separate blog post from Jakub Jedryszek, a Microsoft software engineer.

A new blade minimize command allows users to quickly collapse and restore their portal management panes. The portal startup sequence has been sped up and now sports "a simpler and more elegant splash screen," Welicki added.

Also among the several new features is a preview of browser back button support and tweaks to certain navigational elements, blade scrolling and the default startboard. Users on slower devices can now disable animations for more responsive performance. Future updates will include an All Resources view, improved back button support and streamlined customization options.

In terms of databases, Microsoft is focusing on helping businesses harden their cloud applications. The company has added a preview of the new Row-Level Security (RLS) feature to Azure SQL Database.

"Row-Level Security enables developers to implement fine-grained access control over rows in a database table," said Joachim Hammer, Azure SQL Database principal product manager, in a March 2 announcement. "This can help prevent unauthorized access when multiple users share the same tables, and can help you implement connection filtering in multi-tenant applications."

Cloud security is a cause of major misgivings among executives, according to a recent report from the Cloud Security Alliance. About 73 percent of those polled for the group's survey pointed to security concerns as the top challenge hampering cloud projects.

Regardless, cloud adoption remains brisk. "The spend in cloud is definitely increasing," Jim Reavis, CEO of the Cloud Security Alliance, told eWEEK's Robert Lemos in January. "While we have these awareness issues and usage issues, it is not stopping companies from jumping on cloud."

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the network of...