Another large set of Azure enhancements: including some for SQL folk

I'm really impressed by the rate that the Azure team is making and releasing enhancements. Scott Guthrie posted about these again recently.

The following items in the announcement were ones that I think can be useful to those with an interest in SQL Server:

* General availability of Azure VMs. While we've had SQL Database and SQL Reporting available as services in Azure, we don't have the other parts of the database platform. With Azure VMs, you can spin up a VM to run SQL Server.

* SQL Server templates. You don't need to install SQL Server when creating a VM. There are templates that have this already installed. You can also save your own templates. They've also provided BizTalk and SharePoint templates.

* Hourly billing for the templates above. This means that if you just need a SQL Server system for a few hours, you can easily do that.

* Virtual Networks. You can create a virtual network, including the ability to stretch that out to your on-premises systems.

* Larger memory VMs. If you really want to try out tabular analytic models, etc. you can now get up to 8 cores and 56GB of memory in a VM.

* Durable data disks from storage can now be up to 1TB in size each.

* Significant reduction in the price of the VMs.

You'll find Scott's announcement here: http://weblogs.asp.net/scottgu/archive/2013/04/16/windows-azure-general-availability-of-infrastructure-as-a-service-iaas.aspx

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