Newsletter August 2014

Announcements

Microsoft Azure SQL Database (DB) adds more data protection features

In addition to the new service tiers introduced in April, Azure SQL DB has new data protection features. Geo-restore allows you to recover and restore a database to any Azure region when there is a catastrophic event. Standard geo-replication now delivers an opt-in, Microsoft-managed service with an asynchronously replicated secondary database ready to take over if a disaster strikes. Auditing tracks and logs events that occur on your database supported with dashboard views and reports for insight into database events. For more about these new features, read this blog post.

Azure DocumentDB is in public preview

DocumentDB is a highly scalable NoSQL document database-as-a-service that offers rich query and transactional processing over schema-free data. It enables you to quickly build, grow, and scale applications with reliable, predictable performance and familiar tools. DocumentDB is built for the cloud and is easy to start and manage. It is available in the Azure Preview portal and, during public preview, it will be offered at a discount in all regions where the service is available.

Azure Search is in public preview

Azure Search is a fully-managed search solution that allows developers to enable search experiences in applications. Developers can surface the power of their application’s data, reduce the complexity around managing and tuning a search index, and get up and running quickly using familiar interfaces. Check it out now in the Azure Preview portal and, during public preview, Azure Search will be offered at a discount in all regions where the service is available.

It’s time to migrate if you’re using the Shared Caching Service

As previously announced, both the Shared Caching Service and the Silverlight-based Azure Management Portal will be retired on September 1, 2014. If you are currently using the Shared Caching Service, we strongly encourage you to migrate all existing caches to the generally available Managed Cache Service or to the new Azure Redis Cache service that is currently in preview. For more information, visit the Cache, Managed Cache Service, or Migrate from Shared Caching to Azure Redis Cache (Preview) webpages.

StorSimple 8000 Series launch draws extensive press coverage

The StorSimple 8000 series launch generated significant excitement about both StorSimple and Azure among key tech industry and business publications. More than two dozen articles and blogs from major media outlets covered the launch, including the Wall Street Journal online, CIO.com, and NetworkWorld.

Reverse DNS for Azure Cloud Services

Cloud Services now supports reverse DNS records for all platform-as-a-service and infrastructure-as-a-service Cloud Services. This support is backwards compatible with existing Cloud Services and is being offered at no additional cost. This feature is currently supported in the Service Management API and through PowerShell. For more information, read this blog post, or watch Scott Guthrie’s Build 2014: Microsoft Azure Keynote Session.

New ExpressRoute locations and partners

ExpressRoute enables you to create private connections between Azure datacenters and infrastructure that are on your premises or in a colocation environment. We’re lighting up six new ExpressRoute locations in the United States and Asia, as well as forming new partnerships with Orange and IIJ. With these new locations and partnerships, more customers will be able to access Azure via ExpressRoute. To learn more, read this blog post.

News from WPC: Azure partner opportunity and momentum

At this year’s Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC), Microsoft corporate vice president John Case announced the Azure Certified program. This new logo certification program will give Microsoft partners new opportunities to promote and sell their applications and services on Azure. For more information about this and other partner announcements, read this blog post.

Collaboration with Google and Docker to support new open source projects on Azure

In June 2014, we announced support for deploying Docker on Azure Virtual Machines, using our extension technology to enable the high-density power of Docker as quickly and easily as possible. Continuing our commitment to give you more open and community-driven choices, we are announcing plans to work with Google and Docker to bring support for both the Kubernetes and libswarm open source projects on the Azure platform. To learn more, read this blog post.

Windows Azure Pack UR3 is available

The latest release of Windows Azure Pack (WAP) is available with enhancements to infrastructure-as-a-service, SQL Server, and Websites services. WAP enables you to deploy and operate Azure-consistent experiences and services in your datacenter. Update Rollup 3 (UR3) adds support for virtual machines with multiple NICs and Dynamic Memory and WinAuth for SQL Server and Websites services. For more information about WAP, visit the Windows Azure Pack webpage, and for more information about UR3, visit the Update Rollup 3 for Windows Azure Pack webpage. Check out Virtual Academy videos that provide a detailed walk-through of concepts and configuration.

Azure Storage offers ZRS for general availability

We offer locally redundant storage (LRS), geographically redundant storage (GRS), and Read-Access GRS (or RA-GRS). LRS has multiple replicas in a region, and GRS has multiple copies replicated across two regions that are at least 400 miles apart. Zone redundant storage (ZRS) provides a redundancy option that is in between and has multiple copies replicated. For more information, visit the Storage webpage.

Updated Notification Hubs pricing

New pricing for Notification Hubs, effective September 1, 2014, accommodates a wider range of use cases across the existing Free, Basic, and Standard tiers. With a per-push price reduction of at least 95 percent and 50 percent for Basic and Standard tiers, respectively, most of you will experience a price decrease from this change. Along with these changes, we are also updating our Free tier to include 1 million pushes. For more information, visit the Notification Hubs Pricing Details webpage.

Azure HDInsight is generally available in Japan West

You can now host HDInsight in Japan West with the same service-level agreement coverage that you receive in our regions worldwide. This announcement follows HDInsight being made available in US North Central, US South Central, and Asia Pacific East.

HDInsight adds Apache HBase™ support as a generally available feature

We’ve added Apache HBase as a generally available feature of HDInsight (Hadoop). Apache HBase is a NoSQL (“not only Structured Query Language”) database component of the Apache Hadoop ecosystem. This enables you to write website transactions or sensor data into Azure Blob storage. For more information, visit the Getting started using HBase webpage.

Mobile Services updates available

Recent updates to Mobile Apps make it easier than ever to build mobile apps that scale. First, we made the .NET backend generally available and fully production ready. Second, we released an update to the .NET backend that enables you to use ASP.NET SignalR for real-time, bidirectional communication with your mobile app. Finally, we released several accelerators (fully functional sample apps) to demonstrate common scenarios in the enterprise.

Learning

TechEd Europe: Trends, innovations, and professional development

Join your peers at TechEd Europe, and explore the most important technology trends in an immersive, hands-on environment. With hundreds of sessions and labs to choose from, you can create a conference experience that matches your interests and develops your expertise. Register today, and we’ll see you in Barcelona from October 28 to 31, 2014.

Is Microsoft Azure compliant? What does that mean?

Azure Friday’s Scott Hanselman talks to Lori Woehler, who explains what it means to be compliant. Can we use Azure in healthcare systems? To take credit cards? In your country of choice? Watch the video.

Identity 101: Azure and Office 365 Powered by Identity and Access control

This video gives a high-level overview of Azure Active Directory and how it integrates with Office 365 and Azure. It also covers how applications are authorized, the consent screen, and how apps can leverage these features. Watch now.

On-demand training: DevOps: An IT Pro Guide

What can DevOps for IT Pros do for you? For starters, it can help you accelerate delivery of software and updates, optimize resources, reduce mean time to repair, improve application quality, and even bolster your career. Watch this on-demand, high-level session by DevOps Expert David Tesar and IT Pro Evangelist Morgan Webb.

On-demand training: Microsoft Desktop Virtualization

Thinking about desktop virtualization? Watch this course to get the details on applicable Microsoft technologies. Explore user-state virtualization, along with applications and operating system virtualization, and hear a comparison of technologies, compare virtual desktop infrastructure deployments, and understand the benefits of each.

Live webcast for Professional Direct and Premier Support customers

Join a live virtual webcast on "Developing Applications via IaaS" on September 16, 2014, at 9:00 Pacific Time. It’s a one hour session that includes audience’s questions and answers. For more information, reach out to your contacts for Premier and ProDirect Service contracts or send us an email. To learn more about Professional Direct and Premier Support offerings, visit the Azure Support Plans webpage.

Hybrid Connections with Santosh Chandwani

In this video, Santosh talks about Hybrid Connections and how it enables you to connect your Azure resources to any on-premises resource. Watch the video.

Hybrid Cloud Series - Episode Three

Join Microsoft tech leaders Brad Anderson and Mark Russinovich for our third and final webinar on success with the hybrid cloud. This episode features an in-depth discussion of infrastructure modernization. As you upgrade from Windows Server 2003, how should you think about hybrid options? How can the cloud help you create a more agile infrastructure? To find out, view the webinar.

Not your father’s #hybridCloud

Hybrid Connections is a turnkey connectivity solution that helps your Azure Websites and Mobile Services securely connect directly to on-premises databases and services-without the need to open your firewall to incoming traffic or deploy a VPN gateway. It’s an entirely new way of building hybrid solutions in record time. Watch this one-off special of Not Your Father’s that demonstrates just how easy it is to solve your hybrid challenges.

Have cloud computing questions? Dear Azure is here to help!

Dear Azure will help whip your cloud computing questions into shape. But first drop and give us twenty.

Free eBook: Building Cloud Apps with Microsoft Azure

If you’re curious about developing for the cloud, considering a move to the cloud, or are new to cloud development, this concise overview provides the most important concepts and practices you need to know. The concepts are illustrated with concrete examples, and each chapter includes links to additional resources that provide more in-depth information. The examples and resources are for Microsoft frameworks and services, but the principles illustrated apply to other web development frameworks and cloud environments as well. Download now.

Migrating data to Azure Files

Azure Files is a cloud-based storage service that exposes SMB2.1 protocol-based file shares in the cloud. Applications running in Azure can easily share files between VMs using standard and familiar file system APIs like ReadFile and WriteFile. As you start to use Azure Files, you may need to move a large amount of existing data into the Files service. There are many options for moving data efficiently to Azure Files, and which one you choose will depend on where the data is originally located. Read this blog post to learn more.

Step-by-step guide for deployment of SAP HANA Developer Edition on Azure

Part of the announcement to support SAP workloads on Azure earlier this year was the message that SAP HANA Developer Edition deployments will be possible. The deployment vehicle for SAP HANA Developer Edition is the SAP Cloud Appliance Library called SAP CAL. Learn the why’s and how’s of this step-by-step process in this blog post.

MSDN Magazine dedicates the July issue to Azure Websites

To help our customers make better use of Azure Websites, MSDN Magazine has dedicated the July issue to this topic. The issue features the articles “Scaling Your Web Application with Azure Web Sites,” “Architect for the Cloud Using Azure Web Sites,” “Building a Node.js and MongoDB Web Service,” “Hybrid Connectivity: Connecting Web Sites to LOB Apps Using PortBridge,” and “Teaching from the Cloud.” The printed issue is on its way to MSDN subscribers, but if you can’t wait to feast your eyes on this sizeable collection of practical info, head over to the MSDN site right now!

DaaS: Diagnostics as a service for Azure Websites

Azure Websites provides an excellent hosting platform for a variety of applications but, while most applications are well written and running perfectly, sometimes bad things can happen to a good application. The root cause could be a code bug or a service wide issue, and the challenge resides in isolating this root cause of the actual issue. In this blog post, we examine how Azure Websites provides diagnostics as a service, allowing you to click a single button and get the answers you need.

PDF generation and loading file-based certificates in Azure Websites

With Azure Websites, we strive to provide a development platform that is consistent with regular IIS, so that developers can be confident that the code they develop on-premises can be deployed simply and easily to the cloud. As part of running a multitenant service, however, Websites does enforce some application safeguards, and that can cause some trouble. Read this blog post to learn about two new capabilities that enable previously restricted scenarios to work for our Basic and Standard service tier customers.

Enhance your virtualization skills-and your IT career

Microsoft Early Experts is a free, online study group for virtualization professionals who want to extend their Hyper-V, System Center, and Azure knowledge with official Microsoft certifications. We've organized our high-impact learning resources into online Knowledge Quests that include concise videos, prescriptive study materials, and hands-on practice with real products. Complete the weekly quests at your own pace and enjoy the flexibility to stop and review certain topics when you need more time. Sign up now.

Partners

Last month we highlighted the winner, BlueMetal Architects, and one honorable mention of the Winning with Azure contest. Here are our two other honorable mentions: Stratechsys and VMob.

Stratechsys

“Using Microsoft Azure, Stratechsys helped Colombian publishing house EL TIEMPO reduce the amount of time required to process images from days to only a few hours, allowing EL TIEMPO to save time developing projects and reduce legacy application costs. Stratechsys is an important partner in the Colombian market developing these types of corporate solutions with more than 3 years of experience in Azure.”
—Ricardo A. Gutierrez O., General Manager

VMob

“The VMob mobile marketing platform, built specifically for retailers, uses in-store beacon functionality, mobile vouchers and mobile loyalty to increase store traffic, improve in-store experience and build loyalty. All app content is tailored specifically to each shopper by our big data platform, running on the Azure network, using a combination of historic information and live data points such as location, weather, and nearby events.”
—Scott Bradley, Founder & Chief Executive

Success Stories

Xerox empowers and educates global employees with cloud-based, mobile video solution

“Whether getting ready to launch a product or provide ongoing performance support, we can take advantage of our Azure cloud-based XstreamVideo solution to provide information quickly across the world.”< br/> —Steven Rath Morgan, Global Learning Process and Innovation

Xerox, a global leader in business processes and document management, wanted to shift its employee learning focus from a traditional approach. Recognizing both the power of video in learning and the fact that its workforce is increasingly mobile, Xerox worked with Azure Circle partner Ravnur to implement an Azure cloud-based video content management solution that delivers learning content to mobile devices anywhere and anytime.

Read the full story

ATM manufacturer quickly creates ATM management solution using cloud resources

“By developing Conductor in Microsoft Azure, we were able to get it from concept to pilot very quickly-in about three months-and position it for equally quick adoption.”
—Devon Watson, Vice President, New Business & Solution Incubation

Diebold, one of the largest global providers of automated teller machines, created a tablet-based application called Conductor that bank branch personnel use to monitor ATM usage. Diebold developed and runs Conductor in Azure, which helped Diebold meet its three-month time-to-market target and gives Diebold an easy way to introduce the app globally.

Read the full story

Azure Store

Visit Azure Store

Partner updates

"Using Stackify we can now offer better support and faster application issue resolution. Existing monitoring tools were only providing us with alerts when something was wrong. Stackify makes sense of the information and helps us pinpoint the problem faster."
—Jacob Dubin, CTO of both Ticket Solutions and VeriShip

Stackify combines application, server worker roles and Service Bus Queues monitoring, performance, smart contextual error and log management, metrics, and secure access. It provides Azure application developers and ops an integrated platform with all the tools they need to monitor, detect, and resolve app issues.

Visit Store page

New in Store

MemCachier offers highly available, enterprise-grade Memcache clusters featuring analytics, SSL, and New Relic integration for developers on Azure.
Learn more