Microsoft is starting the New Year off right by rolling out yet another bundle of new features and updates for its cloud computing platform, Windows Azure. Among the most notable improvements are:
- Staged site publishing support
- “Always On” feature
- Web Sites and SQL database alerts
- PCI compliance
You can go more in-depth about the functionality of the new features by visiting the blog of Microsoft Corporate Vice President, Scott Guthrie, but here is a basic rundown of what these changes mean for Azure users.
Staged Publishing Support
Possibly one of the biggest rollouts of 2014 is Microsoft’s Azure update for staging websites before publishing. Developers can now use a staged platform to test updates on their sites before immediately rolling them out to the public Web Site. This feature also allows site managers to publish changes all at once, rather than updating files one-by-one.
The “Always On” Option
When the new “Always On” feature is enabled on your site, Windows Azure will automatically ping your site regularly to ensure that it is always active and in a responsive state. This is useful for guaranteeing that the app domain or worker process has not paged out due to a lack of external HTTP requests.
Web Sites and SQL Database Alerts
Monitoring for sites and SQL databases has also been improved. Site metrics are now updated every minute for Azure Web Sites, and CPU time and Data Out alerts for databases have been expanded further.
Also happening this month, Azure became “Level 1 compliant” under the Payment Card Industry (PCI) Data Security Standards (DSS). The PCI DSS is a security measure aimed at thwarting credit-card data fraud. PCI certification is required for all stores and organizations that process payment-cardholder data, and now Microsoft too has incorporated PCI data security.
Microsoft Technical Evangelist Niall Mora explained in a blog post why the update is so important:
“So from a PCI DSS perspective every system that touches the card details must be audited. This of course presents a problem for cloud data centers like Azure, where it’s impossible to allow auditors every time a customer requires a certification. So, the way around this is for Microsoft to achieve compliance. Today’s announcement means customers can now deploy applications and have them certified, so this opens up Azure for a new type of workload.”
To learn about how Microsoft Azure cloud computing services can help your business better manage its activities and data, check out our Technology knowledge resources page today or contact one of our certified cloud computing consultants.