Microsoft yesterday deployed its new Azure Preview Portal at Build 2014 in San Francisco. This portal enables Azure organizations to develop and manage a cloud application in one place, using any platform and tools.

The new Azure Preview Portal consolidates all of a cloud application's components, and its features include:

  • Resource management - Azure customers can create, manage and analyze their entire cloud application as a single resource group. In addition, the new Azure Manager enables customers to automatically deploy and manage their application from any client or device.
  • Integrated billing - The portal's integrated billing features are designed to help Azure customers better control their costs.
  • Gallery - Azure customers can access an integrated marketplace of free and paid services from Microsoft and the open source community.
  • Visual Studio Online - Visual Studio Online enhancements include "Monaco" (an editor for modifying any Web project code without leaving Azure), Application Insights (an analytics solution that collects data such as availability, performance and usage information to track an application's health) and Visual Studio integration (providing one-click data retrieval from new applications).

Microsoft Executive Vice President Scott Guthrie noted that the new Azure Preview Portal highlights how his company is trying to create simple, cloud-first tools.

"Developing for a mobile-first, cloud-first world is complicated, and Microsoft is working to simplify this world without sacrificing speed, choice, cost or quality," Guthrie said, according to a press release. "Imagine a world where infrastructure and platform services blend together in one seamless experience, so developers and IT professionals no longer have to work in disparate environments in the cloud. Microsoft has been rapidly innovating to solve this problem, and we have taken a big step toward that vision today."

Also, Microsoft announced new open source partnerships with IT automation software providers Chef and Puppet Labs to run configuration management technologies in Azure Virtual Machines. Microsoft said that these partnerships will help it develop new cloud solutions that could make it easier for Azure customers to launch and configure cloud applications.