Microsoft Adds New Data Services For Developers To Azure

Microsoft said Thursday the launch of several new data services intended to make it easier for developers to build applications on the Azure cloud platform, as well as expansion of the platform to more countries.

The new cloud offerings include a document database-as-a-service, pre-configured virtual machine images and a search feature that developers can build into applications.

Vibhor Kapoor, director of product marketing for Azure, said on the blog for the cloud platform that the new features line up with "core tenets of Microsoft Azure's strategy" to build an open cloud platform flexible enough to allow developers to choose the technologies with which they build.

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It's a strategy that would allow customers to use a number of different tools, languages and frameworks on top of Microsoft's cloud infrastructure.

Among the new offerings is DocumentDB, made available through the Azure preview portal. The document database-as-a-service feature provides the benefits of a managed NoSQL database with capabilities like query processing and transaction semantics that are common to relational database systems.

VM Depot, a repository of virtual machine images, is also being offered through the Azure preview portal, as well as in Azure Gallery.

Developers can find almost 300 pre-configured virtual machine images spanning base operating system distributions, developer stacks and complete applications in VM Depot.

Azure Search is also now available through the preview portal. The search-as-a-service offering allows users to integrate search capabilities into their applications and connect search results to business objectives by creating ranking profiles.

"If you are building a web or mobile application for e-commerce using social or user generated content, you do not have to worry about the complexities of deploying, maintaining or managing a search infrastructure" with Azure Search, Kapoor wrote.

Another new offering, now generally available on Azure, is Apache HBase. The NoSQL database component of the Hadoop ecosystem can be used through Microsoft's HDInsight distribution of Hadoop.

Finally, Microsoft will make Azure available in 51 new countries "where customers can use credit cards to purchase Azure and deploy services on our global datacenter footprint," Kapoor wrote.