For three years Microsoft has worked on Azure and for the last year beta testers have been putting it through the motions. But today, developers and customers can use the Windows Azure operating system and make use of the SQL Azure hosted database. Currently, some properties hosted on Azure are Live Mesh, Microsofts HealthVault, and Hohm energy monitoring service. Additionally there are free supporting applications which export schemas and data from on-premise SQL databases to SQL Azure, plus other tools for migrating existing applications, and also for developing new ones. While benefits promised for the future include:
- Virtual machine roles with administrator control
- Reporting and analytics for SQL Azure
- Workflow and Live Services
- Online administration tools
- Closer parity with Microsofts on-premises products
As of today, February 1, Microsoft has now begun to require payment from customers for their use of its Azure cloud. February 1 is also the deadline for users with Azure Community Technology Preview accounts to decide if they wish to subscribe; if not, its advised that they export their data to protect against deletion.