July 01, 2013, 1:12 PM — This spring, Microsoft released some updates to its Windows Azure cloud service that make it much easier for users and companies to connect directly into Microsoft-owned Azure data centers and work with machines and services that are running on Azure as if they were local.
This is accomplished through various types of VPNs and, in this piece, I'll look at each type, what's new in Azure and how to do some of the heavy lifting in the setup process so you can start using it. By the way, there are no release numbers on Azure any longer; Microsoft has stopped numbering the releases because there are so many updates.
New: Point-to-site connectivity
In past releases, Windows Azure has been able to create only site-to-site virtual private networks, or VPNs. This meant that your corporate network needed a dedicated VPN device to establish a link with a dedicated router or other networking gear within the Azure data center. Typically, large companies have access to these types of devices typically, but small and medium businesses do not, which limited the utility of the VPN feature overall.