In the world of business and app development, cloud services are almost a requirement to keep your doors open. Besides the security of storage–an especially important factor for things like startups with innovative ideas and companies developing patented proprietary goods and services–cloud data storage also fosters connectivity, an important component in today’s far-flung, telecommuting environment.

Azure

Microsoft met one of the crucial needs of the cloud customer base with the launch of its Azure App Service, which basically let developers create, edit, and test their app products within the elasticity of a secure space. Now, though, the team has upped the ante in a way that’s sure to help it play catch up to its current lead competitor, Amazon Web Services, with four new tools for Azure: Azure SQL Database elastic database pool, SQL Data Warehouse, Data Lake unstructured data repository, and Service Fabric for microservices.

Some of these features, like the SQL Database pool, are built with one goal, and that’s to save Azure users money. It lets them work within different customers’ databases from one multi-faceted platform. Others, like the focus on microservices, are a direct response to users’ needs for better containerization from the platform.

No discussion of Azure would be complete without the late-April announcement of Azure Services Fabric, which–according to a post from Microsoft CTO Mark Russinovich–“provides the benefits of orchestration and automation for microservices with new levels of app awareness and insight…[and] solves hard distributed systems problems like state management and provides application lifecycle management capabilities so developers don’t have to re-architect their applications as usage grows.”