Microsoft Tweaks Windows Azure With Autoscaling, More

At Build 2013, Microsoft announced new features for its Windows Azure cloud platform including autoscaling.

SAN FRANCISCO—Microsoft kicked off Day Two of its Build 2013 conference here with a series of developer-centric updates to its Windows Azure cloud computing platform.

Windows Azure spans infrastructure and platform capabilities to provide them with a comprehensive set of services to easily and quickly build modern applications, using the tools and languages familiar to them.

Delivering on its pledge to provide developers with a comprehensive cloud platform, Microsoft announced the general availability of Windows Azure Mobile Services. Speaking at the conference, Scott Guthrie, corporate vice president of the server and tools business at Microsoft, said Azure Mobile Services enables developers building Windows, Windows Phone, iOS and Android apps to store data in the cloud, authenticate users and send push notifications. Microsoft pointed out that TalkTalk Business, a business telecommunications provider in the United Kingdom, chose Windows Azure Mobile Services to create new ways to engage with its customers and serve demand for mobile access.

Microsoft also announced the general availability of Windows Azure Web Sites, which allows developers to create Websites on a secure and scalable platform to reach new customers. With the investments Microsoft has made in ASP.NET and Web tools, Web developers can now create scalable experiences easier than ever, the company said.

Dutch brewer Heineken is using Windows Azure to power a social pinball game for the UEFA Champions League Road to the Final campaign, with the expectations of millions of interactions scaled on Windows Azure. Heineken exceeded its usage metrics by a wide margin yet experienced no scalability issues with Windows Azure.

Keynotes delivered by Satya Nadella, president of the Server and Tools Business, and Steve Guggenheimer, corporate vice president and chief evangelist in Microsoft's Developer Platform Evangelism group, showcased how commonality across the Windows platform enables developers of all types to build compelling apps and experiences spanning devices and services.

"Developers are increasingly demanding a flexible, comprehensive platform that helps them build and manage apps in a cloud- and mobile-driven world," Nadella said, in a statement. "To meet these demands, Microsoft has been doubling down on Windows Azure. Nearly 1,000 new businesses are betting on Windows Azure daily, and as momentum for Azure grows, so too does the developer opportunity to build applications that power modern businesses."

Nadella also rattled off some impressive statistics about Windows Azure, including that more than 50 percent of the Fortune 500 organizations use Azure, and there are 3.2 million organizations using Windows Azure and 68 million individual users. There also are 8.5 trillion storage objects stored on Azure, and the platform manages 900,000 transactions per second. Microsoft has also seen three times the growth in its Hyper-V share, and the compute and storage capacity of Windows Azure doubles every six months, Nadella said.

Meanwhile, Nadella noted that after just announcing the general availability of its infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) capability in April, already 20 percent of Windows Azure capacity is IaaS capacity.

For his part, Guthrie also highlighted Microsoft's continued enterprise cloud momentum by demonstrating several platform advancements, including previews of improved auto-scaling, alerting and notifications, and tooling support for Windows Azure through Visual Studio. In addition, he previewed how Windows Azure Active Directory provides organizations and ISVs, such as Box, with a single-sign-on experience to access cloud-based applications.