There is a new CU update for SQL 2012 SP1 and I noticed a very interesting new feature described in the documentation blogged here.
This is one of two new improvements and it is described as:
You can now directly create a backup to Windows Azure Storage using SQL Server Native Backup functionality. This will allow users to back up a SQL Server database on an on-premises instance or on an instance of SQL Server that is running in a hosted environment, such as the Windows Azure Virtual Machine.
This is really interesting as for me, this has come at a time where I'm overhauling all of my organisations disaster recovery with a view on using Azure storage where possible for some of the backups, especially ones that we generally don't need to access that frequently. Also I'm on the verge of deploying our first 2012 instance on-premises so this improvement couldn't have come at a better time. Although I've yet to have a play with this feature and understand it's capabilities, but at face value I think I'll definitely be using it to complement our long term DR solution.
I've already shifted a lot of our customer facing demo systems from lots of unreliable internal VM's to a single higher spec Azure VM and we are also using an Azure SQL database as part of another project dealing with pro-active monitoring of our customer solutions and it is all working really really well for us. Gone are the days of having to fight with flaky internal hardware, networks, firewalls etc and gone are the days of trying to justify spending 10's of thousands of pounds on new hardware and why I can't just use existing equipment. I can focus on making our customer offerings better and the service that we provide better instead of losing time on a regular basis on the infrastructure that supports those offerings.