Microsoft yanks Azure auto-hosted SharePoint apps service

The company plans to relaunch the program later this year

Microsoft is pulling the plug on a new model of deploying and hosting apps for SharePoint that relied on the company's Azure platform.

The goal of the Autohosted Apps Preview program was to offer SharePoint developers a "friction free" experience for provisioning their apps by tapping Azure resources, but the service fell short of expectations because, in Microsoft's words, it "lacked some critical capabilities."

"For example, the ability to access all the features of Microsoft Azure, better insight and transparency into running apps for debugging and monitoring purposes, and more control and options for scaling apps," reads a blog post the Office 365 team published on Friday.

Working in conjunction with the Azure and Visual Studio groups, the Office 365 team hopes to relaunch this service by the end of the year. The Authosted Apps Preview program could be used for apps built for the on-premises SharePoint 2013 server and for the Microsoft-hosted SharePoint Online, the public cloud version of the server that is available as a stand-alone product and as part of Office 365.

"The improved model will include nailing the fundamentals you told us were crucial: streamlined deployment and management, the ability to leverage the full power of Azure, and easy scaling for apps," the blog post reads.

The Autohosted Apps Preview program will close on June 30, and developers won't be able to create new apps using it after that date. Currently deployed apps will continue to run on the service until further notice.

Developers should transition Autohosted Apps running in production environments to the hosting infrastructure of another provider, according to Microsoft. Instructions for doing so are posted online.

The Autohosted Apps service, introduced with SharePoint 2013's launch, automatically provisions an Azure website and, in some cases, also an Azure SQL database when apps are installed.

The other cloud model, which remains functional, is the Provider Hosted Apps one, in which developers deploy non-SharePoint components on their premises server or on a third-party cloud hosting platform, according to Microsoft.

Juan Carlos Perez covers enterprise communication/collaboration suites, operating systems, browsers and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Juan on Twitter at @JuanCPerezIDG.

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