Microsoft polishes up Azure portal for real people who happen to be developers

Microsoft Technical Fellow Mark Russinovich

For all the love developers have for their cloud services — They’re cheap! They’re flexible! They’re varied! — that passion doesn’t hold for the console they use to manage those services. The problem is that many applications require the use of multiple resource types and managing all those things from, say, the Amazon Web Services console is not a delightful experience, even according to AWS fan boys.

That’s why Microsoft will show off a new Azure Preview Portal on Thursday that it says will give developers and IT pros a full look at their cloud resources to simplify deployment and use as well as make it easier to manage applications from set-up to billing.

Old Azure Gallery

Old Azure Gallery

“We want to provide one hub to access our own and third-party tools,” Microsoft Technology Fellow Mark Russinovich told me this week. (Russinovich is pictured above right.) One design goal is to offer one window — if you’ll pardon the phrase — into Azure’s Platform-as-a-Service and Infrastructure-as-a-Service capabilities, which makes sense since Azure launched a few years ago as a PaaS but last year added AWS-like IaaS features.

New Azure Gallery.

New Azure Gallery.

The underpinning of the new portal is the notion of resource groups — the system itself “knows” about the relationships between different resources. If it knows they are linked then subsequent workflows and orchestrations just work better.

That means as you tweak your setup, you can set rules not only around performance but cost. “You can say, this resource group is costing me X dollars per month and set up quotas on that so if it exceeds that dollar amount it shuts down — maybe because it’s a dev test environment and you don’t want to spend all that money,” Russinovich said.

Azure already had a visual portal for managing resources, the difference here is the resource grouping.

The portal was demonstrated during a Microsoft Build on Thursday by Scott Guthrie, in his first major public appearance since being named EVP of cloud and enterprise. Guthrie will also speak at Gigaom Structure in June.  It will go live soon for some aspects of Azure — Visual Studio, Azure web sites and Azure database — with coverage for all the other services to come within a year, Russinovich said.


New Azure portal


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