Announcing: Improvements to the Windows Azure Portal

Earlier today we released a number of enhancements to the new Windows Azure Management Portal.  These new capabilities include:

  • Service Bus Management and Monitoring
  • Support for Managing Co-administrators
  • Import/Export support for SQL Databases
  • Virtual Machine Experience Enhancements
  • Improved Cloud Service Status Notifications
  • Media Services Monitoring Support
  • Storage Container Creation and Access Control Support

All of these improvements are now live in production and available to start using immediately.  Below are more details on them:

Service Bus Management and Monitoring

The new Windows Azure Management Portal now supports Service Bus management and monitoring. Service Bus provides rich messaging infrastructure that can sit between applications (or between cloud and on-premise environments) and allow them to communicate in a loosely coupled way for improved scale and resiliency. With the new Service Bus experience, you can now create and manage Service Bus Namespaces, Queues, Topics, Relays and Subscriptions. You can also get rich monitoring for Service Bus Queues, Topics and Subscriptions.

To create a Service Bus namespace, you can now select the “Service Bus” tab in the Windows Azure portal and then simply select the CREATE command:

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Doing so will bring up a new “Create a Namespace” dialog that allows you to name and create a new Service Bus Namespace:

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Once created, you can obtain security credentials associated with the Namespace via the ACCESS KEY command. This gives you the ability to obtain the connection string associated with the service namespace. You can copy and paste these values into any application that requires these credentials:

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It is also now easy to create Service Bus Queues and Topics via the NEW experience in the portal drawer.  Simply click the NEW command and navigate to the “App Services” category to create a new Service Bus entity:

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Once you provision a new Queue or Topic it can be managed in the portal.  Clicking on a namespace will display all queues and topics within it:

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Clicking on an item in the list will allow you to drill down into a dashboard view that allows you to monitor the activity and traffic within it, as well as perform operations on it. For example, below is a view of an “orders” queue – note how we now surface both the incoming and outgoing message flow rate, as well as the total queue length and queue size:

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To monitor pub/sub subscriptions you can use the ADD METRICS command within a topic and select a specific subscription to monitor.

Support for Managing Co-Administrators

You can now add co-administrators for your Windows Azure subscription using the new Windows Azure Portal. This allows you to share management of your Windows Azure services with other users. Subscription co-administrators share the same administrative rights and permissions that service administrator have - except a co-administrator cannot change or view billing details about the account, nor remove the service administrator from a subscription.

In the SETTINGS section, click on the ADMINISTRATORS tab, and select the ADD button to add a co-administrator to your subscription:

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To add a co-administrator, you specify the email address for a Microsoft account (formerly Windows Live ID) or an organizational account, and choose the subscription you want to add them to:

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You can later update the subscriptions that the co-administrator has access to by clicking on the EDIT button, and then select or deselect the subscriptions to which they belong.

Import/Export Support for SQL Databases

The Windows Azure administration portal now supports importing and exporting SQL Databases to/from Blob Storage.  Databases can be imported/exported to blob storage using the same BACPAC file format that is supported with SQL Server 2012.  Among other benefits, this makes it easy to copy and migrate databases between on-premise and cloud environments.

SQL Databases now have an EXPORT command in the bottom drawer that when pressed will prompt you to save your database to a Windows Azure storage container:

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The UI allows you to choose an existing storage account or create a new one, as well as the name of the BACPAC file to persist in blob storage:

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You can also now import and create a new SQL Database by using the NEW command.  This will prompt you to select the storage container and file to import the database from:

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The Windows Azure Portal enables you to monitor the progress of import and export operations. If you choose to log out of the portal, you can come back later and check on the status of all of the operations in the new history tab of the SQL Database server – this shows your entire import and export history and the status (success/fail) of each:

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Enhancements to the Virtual Machine Experience

One of the common pain-points we have heard from customers using the preview of our new Virtual Machine support has been the inability to delete the associated VHDs when a VM instance (or VM drive) gets deleted. Prior to today’s release the VHDs would continue to be in your storage account and accumulate storage charges.

You can now navigate to the Disks tab within the Virtual Machine extension, select a VM disk to delete, and click the DELETE DISK command:

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When you click the DELETE DISK button you have the option to delete the disk + associated .VHD file (completely clearing it from storage).  Alternatively you can delete the disk but still retain a .VHD copy of it in storage.

Improved Cloud Service Status Notifications

The Windows Azure portal now exposes more information of the health status of role instances.  If any of the instances are in a non-running state, the status at the top of the dashboard will summarize the status (and update automatically as the role health changes):

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Clicking the instance hyperlink within this status summary view will navigate you to a detailed role instance view, and allow you to get more detailed health status of each of the instances.  The portal has been updated to provide more specific status information within this detailed view – giving you better visibility into the health of your app:

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Monitoring Support for Media Services

Windows Azure Media Services allows you to create media processing jobs (for example: encoding media files) in your Windows Azure Media Services account. In the Windows Azure Portal, you can now monitor the number of encoding jobs that are queued up for processing as well as active, failed and queued tasks for encoding jobs. On your media services account dashboard, you can visualize the monitoring data for last 6 hours, 24 hours or 7 days.

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Storage Container Creation and Access Control Support

You can now create Windows Azure Storage storage containers from within the Windows Azure Portal.  After selecting a storage account, you can navigate to the CONTAINERS tab and click the ADD CONTAINER command:

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This will display a dialog that lets you name the new container and control access to it:

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You can also update the access setting as well as container metadata of existing containers by selecting one and then using the new EDIT CONTAINER command:

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This will then bring up the edit container dialog that allows you to change and save its settings:

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In addition to creating and editing containers, you can click on them within the portal to drill-in and view blobs within them. 

Summary

The above features are all now live in production and available to use immediately.  If you don’t already have a Windows Azure account, you can sign-up for a free trial and start using them today.  Visit the Windows Azure Developer Center to learn more about how to build apps with it.

We’ll have even more new features and enhancements coming later this month – including support for the recent Windows Server 2012 and .NET 4.5 releases (we will enable new web and worker role images with Windows Server 2012 and .NET 4.5, and support .NET 4.5 with Websites).  Keep an eye out on my blog for details as these new features become available.

Hope this helps,

Scott

P.S. In addition to blogging, I am also now using Twitter for quick updates and to share links. Follow me at: twitter.com/scottgu

Published Sunday, October 7, 2012 11:44 PM by ScottGu
Filed under: , ,

Comments

# re: Announcing: Improvements to the Windows Azure Portal

Monday, October 8, 2012 2:49 AM by Gaurav

Great Improvements :)

# re: Announcing: Improvements to the Windows Azure Portal

Monday, October 8, 2012 3:01 AM by Doug Rathbone

Having used the service bus queues in  project just last week I tip my hat to the team.

At the current pricing and the ease with which it was to setup, this is a highly inviting product.

# re: Announcing: Improvements to the Windows Azure Portal

Monday, October 8, 2012 3:19 AM by James

These are fantastic improvements.  I especially like seeing the connected relays.

You mentioned that co-administrators should have the same rights as the primary service administrators, except for a few specific things.  However, it appears that the ACS portion of the portal still doesn't allow co-administrators to manage security for ACS or service bus namespaces.  It gives a fairly unintuitive error message.  Do you know if co-administrator support is in the works for the ACS portion of the portal?

# re: Announcing: Improvements to the Windows Azure Portal

Monday, October 8, 2012 3:59 AM by Craig

Nice updates, I'm glad to see the cadence of updates picking up.

# re: Announcing: Improvements to the Windows Azure Portal

Monday, October 8, 2012 4:10 AM by Erik

Like James already asked:

Do you know if co-administrator support is in the works for the ACS portion of the portal?

# re: Announcing: Improvements to the Windows Azure Portal

Monday, October 8, 2012 4:13 AM by Lindsey Menzies

This all looks great - I look forward to using it.

One question on the new Azure portal, though - how come I still can't create web sites throught it? It says I need to sign up to the preview program for that - but I (or rather, my company) already has an Azure Subscription, of which I'm a service administrator...

# re: Announcing: Improvements to the Windows Azure Portal

Monday, October 8, 2012 4:14 AM by Saravana Kumar

Absolutely excited to see the service bus stuff on the new portal.

# re: Announcing: Improvements to the Windows Azure Portal

Monday, October 8, 2012 5:05 AM by Vladimir

sorry, previous comment was for Lindsey Menzies

# re: Announcing: Improvements to the Windows Azure Portal

Monday, October 8, 2012 5:13 AM by Niko Neugebauer

Blasting improvements!

Really glad that Azure is finally moving fast forward.

Keep up good job!

# re: Announcing: Improvements to the Windows Azure Portal

Monday, October 8, 2012 5:52 AM by Yngve Bakken Nilsen

Great to see Azure being improved. Any timeframe on Deployment from private GitHub repositories, and perhaps some automatic testrunners? :)

# re: Announcing: Improvements to the Windows Azure Portal

Monday, October 8, 2012 5:54 AM by Yngve Bakken Nilsen

Great to see Azure being improved. Any timeframe on Deployment from private GitHub repositories, and perhaps some automatic testrunners? :)

# re: Announcing: Improvements to the Windows Azure Portal

Monday, October 8, 2012 6:27 AM by Ying

Fabulous. Please continue to improve and add new features in.

# re: Announcing: Improvements to the Windows Azure Portal

Monday, October 8, 2012 6:39 AM by Janne Rautiola

Nice new features.

I'm looking forward for the next update which tells that .NET 4.5 is ready to use with web sites!

# re: Announcing: Improvements to the Windows Azure Portal

Monday, October 8, 2012 9:16 AM by alexbeloff

Great! Special thanks for service bus and co-administrators.

# re: Announcing: Improvements to the Windows Azure Portal

Monday, October 8, 2012 11:56 AM by Christian

so what's going on with the identity tab on mobile services... it says it can't load... are you guys working on this, since I see  facebook, Google and twitter settings, but nothing seems to Work, I'm getting a "Unable load current identity settings - Error 404". any clues on that?

# re: Announcing: Improvements to the Windows Azure Portal

Monday, October 8, 2012 12:46 PM by Luke Latham

Thanks Azure Team! The ability to break a lease and kill a VHD when removing a disk from a VM was definitely needed. I'm also glad that you gave a shout-out to Big Bird. Support funding for PBS!!!!!!

# re: Announcing: Improvements to the Windows Azure Portal

Monday, October 8, 2012 12:50 PM by Mark

Is there an option to move a SQL Azure database between different subscriptions in the new Portal? It is available in the older Silverlight based portal and we have had to use it on more than one occasion!

# re: Announcing: Improvements to the Windows Azure Portal

Monday, October 8, 2012 12:56 PM by davidacoder

How about fixing the total mess that exists right now with logins? In particular, Microsoft accounts that are part of windows live custom domain can't be used to login. I spent an hour or so with support on this two weeks ago with the final info that nothing can be done about it...

# re: Announcing: Improvements to the Windows Azure Portal

Monday, October 8, 2012 1:49 PM by ToddHS

The ACS co-admin feature was fixed as part of this past weekend's portal release.  So it should be working now.  Please let us know if you continue to see any issues.

# re: Announcing: Improvements to the Windows Azure Portal

Monday, October 8, 2012 5:58 PM by James

@ToddHS - Thanks for following up.  I just went in and clicked the "Open ACS Management Portal" link for a newly created SB namespace, and I am taken to a 403 error page.  When doing the same on a subscription I am the primary administrator on, it works fine.  This is the same behavior the old portal had as well.

# re: Announcing: Improvements to the Windows Azure Portal

Monday, October 8, 2012 10:40 PM by mmichtch

Great,

How about Reporting Services? any plans to include them in the same management space?

# re: Announcing: Improvements to the Windows Azure Portal

Monday, October 8, 2012 11:06 PM by Satish

I like the Import/Export support for SQL Databases. Is there any REST API for this operation? If not, any plans for this API?

regards,

--

Satish

# re: Announcing: Improvements to the Windows Azure Portal

Tuesday, October 9, 2012 12:50 AM by Hari

Thanks Scott for the update, I like the Import/Export support for SQL Databases as I started looking for this feature last week. Managing Administrator is the second I liked and Looking forward for .Net 4.5 support on Websites as well on Virtual hosts with Windows 2012.

# re: Announcing: Improvements to the Windows Azure Portal

Tuesday, October 9, 2012 12:54 AM by Bharath.P

Hi Scott, I am added as co-admin to the Visual Studio MSDN ultimate subscription benefits.

However all i can see is minimal features (Databse, storage, cloud services, Websites, settings). Not able to see Virtual machines, Media services, Mobile Services, Service Bus, etc that i am seeing in your screenshots in this blog.

Any reason? If I am added as Co-Admin to Windows Azure i cannot see those new/additional services introduced?

# re: Announcing: Improvements to the Windows Azure Portal

Tuesday, October 9, 2012 1:24 AM by Nygaard

What is BACPAC? Sure you're not referring to DACPAC?

# re: Announcing: Improvements to the Windows Azure Portal

Tuesday, October 9, 2012 8:46 AM by Paul g

Grrr.. got really excited about the Import/Export BacPac to Storage unti I tried it and realised that it sneakily adds 0.0.0.0 to the SQL Firewall rules without telling you. Still can't securely backup to storage :0( (by securely backup I mean that I don't want to add 0.0.0.0 to my firewall).

# re: Announcing: Improvements to the Windows Azure Portal

Tuesday, October 9, 2012 1:48 PM by JeanL

Excellent updates...but I hope there would still be a way to filter items in the portal by subscription.  We run multiple subscriptions and it is difficult to focus on a particular subscription with the new portal.  At least the old portal allows us to view the various products/services by subscription.

# re: Announcing: Improvements to the Windows Azure Portal

Wednesday, October 10, 2012 5:30 PM by ToddHS

@James - You are correct; it looks like we have some more work to do on this one.  We rolled out a bug fix yesterday that should have addressed the problem for new subscriptions.  For existing subscriptions, we'll have to do a follow-on action (the ACS team is working on that now).  However in the meantime, you should be able to work around the issue by having the service administrator re-add the co-admins on the subscription.  We would appreciate if you could try this and either confirm back or contact me directly (toddhs@microsoft.com) if you still see any issues.  Apologies for the inconvenience, and thanks for reporting the problem!

# re: Announcing: Improvements to the Windows Azure Portal

Wednesday, October 10, 2012 6:07 PM by Paul H

Good news to hear about the portal improvements. Will be great when everything gets moved across from the old silverlight portal (i.e. cdn and caching) and I can finally stop going back and forth.

Speaking of caching, can you confirm or deny reports that shared caching will be deprecated in favour of the caching (preview) offering? It seems odd that shared caching is not mentioned in the pricing calculator and is still not available in the newer US West and US East data centers.

I have a site in US East and am wondering whether I should migrate to US North so I can use shared cache (which will be a huge pain copying over all blob storage items) or if I should just move over to the preview in-role caching which will be more expensive because it is not covered by MSDN subscription but will avoid the headache of moving datacenters unnecessarily if shared caching is cancelled.

# re: Announcing: Improvements to the Windows Azure Portal

Thursday, October 11, 2012 8:02 AM by Jonas Stensved

Wonderful! Love to see Azure getting better!

# re: Announcing: Improvements to the Windows Azure Portal

Thursday, October 11, 2012 2:36 PM by James

@ToddHS - I had the primary service administrator remove me as a co-admin on the problematic subscription, and add me back.  It works now.  Fantastic, thanks!

# re: Announcing: Improvements to the Windows Azure Portal

Tuesday, October 16, 2012 5:28 AM by Embers

Scott, I hear that .Net 4.5 is being rolled out to Azure Websites which is great news but considering they are in preview still and don't currently support SSL certs even in reserved mode? and that Azure cloud services still don't support .Net 4.5 it's all still a show stopper to acturally using Azure for any kind of production deployments on .Net 4.5. I have trialled Azure VM'S (granted still in preview) but there seems to be a serious issue with these locking up and being unable to reboot / stop or even delete.

As Cloud services are the only production (not in preview) service when will these be updated to support .Net framework 4.5?

Thanks

# re: Announcing: Improvements to the Windows Azure Portal

Sunday, October 21, 2012 8:20 AM by KonstardiyFromTbilisi

Still waiting for Net 4.5 support.

# re: Announcing: Improvements to the Windows Azure Portal

Monday, October 22, 2012 6:55 AM by KonstardiyFromTbilisi

It seems my 4.5 website is working now, even management portal shows Net 2.0 and 4.0 versions at WAWS... I'm happy!