Today, April 16th 2013, the Windows Azure team has announced that Windows Azure Infrasructure Services ( Virtual Machines and Virtual Networks ) has been released for General Availability ( GA ) for production workloads!  You can read the full details of this formal announcement at:

Activate a FREE Windows Azure 90-Day Trial

Over 200,000 customers are actively using Windows Azure as their cloud platform.  In this article, I’ll review the step-by-step scenarios with which these customers have experienced great value – so that YOU can easily get started leveraging the low-cost and flexibility of Windows Azure Infrastructure Services, too – beginning TODAY! And, by leveraging our 90-Day FREE Trial, you can get started at absolutely no-cost.

What does today’s announcement mean?

Previously, Windows Azure VM & VNets were being provided on a pre-release “Preview” basis for testing and evaluation without a Service Level Agreement ( SLA ) in place for production workloads.  With today’s GA announcement, Windows Azure Infrastructure Services is now ready for production workloads and the Windows Azure team is providing a financially-backed SLA as an availability guarantee.

New VM Sizes

In addition, the GA release today also brings forth new VM Sizes for large memory VMs ( in addition to the prior VM Sizes ):

  • NEW! VM Size A6 ( 4 Virtual Cores / 28 GB RAM )
  • NEW! VM Size A7 ( 8 Virtual Cores / 56 GB RAM )

These new VM sizes are a welcome addition for supporting memory-hungry VMs on Windows Azure, such as SQL Server and SharePoint Server workloads.

New Pricing Levels

The Windows Azure team is committed to provide the best balance of low-cost and performance for VMs running on the Windows Azure Infrastructure Services platform.  As an early incentive, there’s a substantial discount across the board for VM usage. 

Ten Key Scenarios you can start with TODAY!

Windows Azure VMs and Virtual Networks unlock a huge set of new capabilities for IT Pros exploring Hybrid datacenter scenarios.  Today, most IT Pros are faced with on-premise datacenter capacity issues for new workloads, and are often looking to leverage off-site options for backup and DR as well.  Windows Azure can be leveraged as a cloud-based extension of your on-premise datacenter for several key scenarios, such as ...

BACKUP TO THE CLOUD WITH WINDOWS AZURE

1.  Backup SQL Server Databases & Logs to the Cloud

2.  Backup Server Data to the Cloud with Windows Azure Online Backup

EXTEND YOUR NETWORK WITH WINDOWS AZURE

3.  Extend On-Premise Network to the Cloud with Windows Azure Site-to-Site VPN

DISASTER RECOVERY WITH WINDOWS AZURE

4.  Extend Your Windows Server Active Directory to the Cloud

5.  Replicate File Server Content to the Cloud with DFS-R

6.  SQL Database AlwaysOn or Database Mirroring

BUILD DEVELOPER ENVIRONMENTS ON WINDOWS AZURE

7. Deploy a scripted Windows 8 Developer Environment on Windows Azure

CENTRAL FILE AND WEB SERVERS ON WINDOWS AZURE

8.  Accelerate the Delivery of Cloud-based Web and File Server Content

SHAREPOINT ON WINDOWS AZURE

9.  Deploy SharePoint to the Cloud

PRODUCTION WEB APPLICATIONS ON WINDOWS AZURE

10. Deploy IIS Web Applications to the Cloud with Windows Azure

How do I get started TODAY?

You can get started today by evaluating these scenarios using our FREE Windows Azure 90-Day Subscription program.  When you’re ready to move these scenarios into production and get the added value of our financially-backed Service Level Agreement, you can easily convert the FREE Subscription to a PAID subscription by supplying billing information.

Are you ready to join me in the Cloud? Winking smile

- Keith