New Windows Azure Portal Enhancements Released

Today, Scott Gu blogged about the newly released Windows Azure Portal Enhancements. These enhancements cover a wide area within the portal.

The following is a list of the new capabilities:

  • 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

This is a great list of enhancements as it probably contains at least one thing you have been waiting for. For me it has been the Service Bus Management and Monitoring features as well as the Import/Export support for SQL Databases.

As Scott mentions, these updates are live now and greatly complements the existing portal.

Service Bus Management and Monitoring

The old portal contained a section called “Service Bus, Access Control & Caching”, today the Service Bus piece has been released in the new portal.

In the menu you will find a new item called “Service Bus” and within this menu you are able to create a namespace, generate the Access Key and Delete existing namespaces.

The thing I have been missing the most is the “Access Control” management. Although it hasn’t been mentioned in the list above of newly released features or in Scotts blog post, the Portal development team did create a way to get to the old Access Control portal.

access_keyOnce you have created a new Service Bus namespace, you can click on the “Access Key” function at the bottom of the screen. This will bring up the Access Key window which will give you the needed Connection String and Key info. The extra link at the bottom of this window is the “Open ACS Management Portal”. This link will take you to the old ACS portal.

I hope that ACS will soon be added to the new portal as well with proper management and monitoring capabilities, For now, at least you have a way to get to the old portal.

Queues, Topic, and Relays

There are two ways of creating a new Queue, Topic, or Relay. One way is to use the large plus sign at the bottom or through the sub menus at the top once you have created and selected a namespace. Noticeably is the addition of the Relay option. The relay portion of the Service Bus is I think the most under estimated feature of the Azure platform. If you are intending to migrate from on-premise to the cloud, doing some integration between cloud and on-premise that this is what you need.

relay_page

When you select the “Relays” submenu, a text comes up which indicates that the relay can only be created through the Service Bus API. There is a link within the text which will take you to another excellent blog post/white paper/help document called “How to Use the Service Bus Relay Service

Import/Export support for SQL Databases

If you have been working with Azure for a while and have used SQL Azure as well then you have probably run in the situation that you have created either too few or too many subscriptions and now that you have more experience you want to organize your subscriptions and applications a bit better. The problem always was how to deal moving DB’s around.

The added Import and Export feature has now been added to the new portal. This allows you to basically “zip” the whole database into a “bacpac” file, store it into a blob storage container and then either import it into another server or use it as a backup.

Please make sure you understand how Import/Export works by reading the MSDN post Windows Azure SQL Database Backup and Restore.

What is still missing

The old portal supports the “Move Server” option which allows you to move a DB Server with all its databases from one subscription to another. This is a great feature and I have used it a few times now. It would be great to have this feature added to the new portal as well.

Another great feature (still) missing from the new portal is the Copy Database. As you can read from the MSDN post above, you can use T-SQL to create a copy of a source database. I have used this before a few times and sometimes it works just fine and other times it is a struggle. The main reason is the requirement to have the login names on the source and destination server the same, with additional permission requirements.

It would be great if you could just create a copy of a database from the portal and the portal makes sure the login requirements are met or created automatically.

Other Features

Please read Scott’s post about the other features added to the new portal. Scott also mentions that we should see more new features later this month. including support for Windows Server 2012 and the .NET Framework 4.5.

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