Newsletter January 2015


Next generation of Azure SQL Database service in staged general availability; Row-Level Security in public preview

The Azure SQL Database (V12) service update is now generally available in North Europe and West Europe datacenters, and will be generally available in all regions across the United States on February 9, 2015. It will be rolled out worldwide by March 1, 2015. This update introduces near-complete SQL Server engine compatibility, greater support for larger databases, and expanded Premium performance. Now in public preview, Row-Level Security for Azure SQL Database is available on the new V12 service. This feature enables implementation of fine-grained access control over rows in a database table.

New G-Series for Virtual Machines generally available

The G-Series provides more memory and more local solid-state drive (SSD) storage than other Azure virtual machine (VM) sizes. In addition to massive memory and local SSD storage, the G-Series also provides unparalleled computational performance using the latest Intel Xeon processor E5 v3 family, ideal for your most demanding applications. The G-Series is now available in the West US and East US 2 regions.

Azure RemoteApp general availability and licensing

In December 2014, we announced the general availability of Azure RemoteApp. With this application delivery service, you can deploy Windows apps in the cloud and access them from any device. Enterprise Agreement (EA) price lists for RemoteApp became available on January 1, 2015. If you’re interested in annual per-user commitments, RemoteApp plans will be available for EA purchase starting February 1, 2015.

Script Action for Azure HDInsight generally available

You can now customize your Azure HDInsight clusters with projects available from the Apache Hadoop ecosystem, a portfolio of fast-moving open source projects. The new Script Action feature can modify Hadoop clusters in arbitrary ways using custom scripts, so you can experiment with and deploy Hadoop projects that were not possible before. To demonstrate the power of this capability, we’ve provided samples for Spark, R, Giraph, and Solr.

Content Protection for Azure Media Services generally available

Content Protection for Azure Media Services is backed by the full support of the Azure Service-Level Agreement (SLA) for all customers. We understand the importance of protecting your premium media content. Our robust offering features both static and dynamic encryption with first-party PlayReady license delivery and an AES 128-bit key delivery service. Customers can either dynamically encrypt during delivery or statically encrypt during the content-processing workflow, and our Content Protection options are available for both live and on-demand workflows.

Live Channels for Azure Media Services now charged per minute

Azure Media Services has updated the billing model for Live Channels to a per-minute model, resulting in an effective price reduction for customers. Live Channels will now be billed with per-minute prorating, allowing for a more accurate billing experience and lower bill.

Introducing Azure Key Vault in public preview

Key Vault offers an easy, cost-effective way to help safeguard keys and other secrets in the cloud using hardware security modules (HSMs). Protect cryptographic keys and sensitive data like passwords using keys stored in HSMs. For added assurance, import or generate your keys in HSMs certified to FIPS 140-2 level 2 and Common Criteria EAL4+ standards, so your keys stay within the HSM boundary.

Multi-Factor Authentication per application, Connect Health both in public preview

Conditional access policies can be created with Azure Active Directory Premium to enforce Multi-Factor Authentication for users and groups trying to access specific applications. Trusted IP ranges can be excluded from the policy. With this release, you can enforce Multi-Factor Authentication only for access to federated applications. All other application types will be supported in upcoming releases. Available via the Azure Preview portal only, Connect Health helps monitor and gain insights into the identity infrastructure used to extend on-premises identities to Azure Active Directory and Office 365. In this first release, we’ll focus on monitoring the status of Active Directory Federation Services (ADFS) infrastructure. Other sync components will be supported in future releases.

API Management Premium tier with new features now in public preview

The new Premium tier of API Management simplifies massive scale (each unit includes 1 billion API calls per month) and high availability. Geo-distribution provides a turnkey way for you to host an API Management instance in multiple Azure datacenters with automatically synchronized configuration around the world. Added VPN connectivity means you can connect the API Management proxy to your Azure Virtual Network (including ExpressRoute) to help provide security and performance when tackling hybrid scenarios.

Azure Websites built-in integration with HDInsight for web log analytics

Now all customers who deploy their websites and web apps using Azure Websites can generate web logs that track all HTTP transactions and errors in detail. These logs are stored in Azure blobs as nonrelational files that are semistructured. In addition, to guide customers through the process in a few easy steps, HDInsight now includes a web log analytics task in its query console. To get started, provision an HDInsight Hadoop cluster in Azure and select Query Console to view the solutions.

Visual Studio Online price reductions

We've lowered the Visual Studio Online Load Testing price by 80 percent or more in all regions where the service is available to make it more attractive for customers to run load and performance tests of their applications on Azure.

Spiceworks users: please write an Azure review

Help make the Azure Product Page in Spiceworks a place where SpiceHeads can get all the resources they need, including detailed peer reviews. Take a look at the recently updated page and tell us what you think about Azure. One request: because this is such a tightknit community, we'd prefer that only existing Spiceworks users leave a review. Also be sure to take a look at some of the exciting content on this page, including a visual tour of Azure datacenters, plus Azure projects that SpiceHeads are currently working on.


What’s next in the cloud? Find out at Microsoft Ignite.

Bring your cloud questions and challenges to our demos, deep dives, and networking sessions. Hear from CEO Satya Nadella and other leaders about the future of technology in a mobile-first, cloud-driven world. Arrive curious, leave inspired. The future will be front and center in Chicago, May 4–8, 2015. Register today!

Azure Websites VNET Integration

Azure Friday’s Scott Hanselman learns all about connecting an Azure website to a VNET, allowing the website to connect with all the resources available on that network. Watch the video.

Azure Cloud Cover: Advanced Redis Cache

In this episode, learn about some of the advanced features of Azure Redis Cache. Watch now.

Azure Cloud Cover: Azure Diagnostic Improvements

In this episode, learn about diagnostics improvements with the Azure SDK. Among other features, find out about the new Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) configuration page in Visual Studio, which enables endpoint viewing, extension installation, alteration of logging levels, and much more. Watch now.

Azure Weekly Demo

Each week, join us for a 30-minute live demo of Azure with a Microsoft Technical Evangelist. During the first 10–15 minutes you'll get to see Azure at work, and for the rest of the time we'll have a live question and answer session. We hope to see you there! Register now.

Free hands-on day of Azure demos and labs in the US

Roll up your sleeves and get ready to learn the latest Azure dev tools and technologies. If you’re located in the United States, join Microsoft experts at your local Microsoft Cloud DevCamp and leave with code running in the cloud! From your first cup of coffee until we call it a day, you'll learn how to use new Azure features and services to build and move a variety of applications to the cloud—including websites, mobile apps, and enterprise-class applications. Don't miss the live Cloud DevCamp in your local area. Save your seat today at locations like San Diego, Detroit, and Atlanta, and be sure to check out the full list.

You know it, so prove it—hurry, challenge starts February 1

Starting February 1, 2015, the “Know it. Prove it.” challenge will give you 28 days to get on stage and show the world your tech skills. Choose among eight learning challenges—including web, cloud, mobile and game development—and supercharge your tech chops. It’s a month of learning that will pay back for a lifetime. So let’s rock and roll.

Live webcasts for Premier and Professional Direct customers

Professional Direct and Premier Support customers are invited to join a live webcast on Azure Media Services happening February 10, 2015, at 09:00 Pacific Time (UTC-8). Another webcast on ASP.NET VNext will be held on February 19, 2015, at 10:00 Pacific Time (UTC-8). Each session will be one hour, including questions and answers from the audience. For more information, reach out to your Premier or Professional Direct services contact, or send us an email.

Register for the Microsoft Big Data Hackathon – Santa Clara, California

This is your opportunity to have a data science getaway while learning about Microsoft big data technologies and doing a little good for your fellow man. During the weekend of March 21–22, 2015, datasets will be supplied for two core challenge areas: Data Modelling and Data Visualization. There will be lots of prizes available from various sponsors, plus books, consumables, gifts, and more. We’ll also be reporting and generating PR around the winning entries. Register now and you’ll get more information, along with exclusive datasets, leading up to the event.

Free ebook: Building Cloud Apps with Microsoft Azure

This ebook walks you through a patterns-based approach to building real-world cloud solutions. The patterns apply to the development process, as well as to architecture and coding practices. The content is based on the presentation Scott Guthrie developed and delivered at the Norwegian Developers Conference (NDC) in June 2013 and at TechEd Australia 2013. Many others updated and augmented the content while transitioning it from video to written form. Download now.

On-demand: Azure IaaS for IT Pros

Deep dive into technology with Azure Engineering to help you better understand and build your foundational cloud skills. Recordings from the live Azure IaaS for IT Pros 4-day event are now available at Microsoft Virtual Academy (MVA) as on-demand courses. Take the four learning-packed courses, test your knowledge, and earn MVA points as you delve into IaaS fundamentals, open source technologies, Windows workload architecture, and more.

On-demand: Getting Started with Microsoft Azure Machine Learning

If you're not a data scientist, but you're interested in data mining and predictive analytics—and you want to go beyond just reporting the numbers—be sure to watch this on-demand Jump Start. Machine Learning is the inexpensive, easy-to-access, and powerful predictive analytics offering from Microsoft. [Note: be sure to set up the Azure Machine Learning trial before you watch.]

On-demand: Cloud Development courses

For developers moving applications to the cloud or creating new apps to be hosted in the cloud, we have some free, specially designed online courses that cover the key information and concepts you need to deploy applications in a private, hybrid, or public cloud environment. View the list of on-demand cloud development courses.

On-demand: Azure Websites is a great Open Source Success

We’ve had a great deal of success running OSS content management systems (CMSs) such as Joomla and WordPress in the cloud. In addition to supporting open source stacks like PHP and MySQL, we’ve been investing in optimizing OSS applications for Azure Websites with integration to Azure Blob Storage and CDN and will continue to invest in OSS for the long term. Watch this on-demand webinar to learn about this OSS integration.

On-demand: Azure Websites – troubleshooting and diagnostics for your website

Azure Active Directory is our cloud-based identity and access management solution. Watch this previously recorded webinar to learn how you can protect your business and empower your users with Azure Active Directory.

High Availability (HA), Disaster Recovery (DR), and Azure

Too often, technical challenges and resource commitments can overwhelm an IT department. Microsoft Technical Evangelist Yung Chou walks through scenarios detailing how your organization can include HA and DR as reliable, scalable, and relatively inexpensive propositions for your environment.


Succeed in a hybrid world—without losing control of your data

Do you want an extra layer of security with full volume encryption options for both your operating system and your data drives in Azure, just like you have on-premises? We’ve had BitLocker in the box with Windows Server for a while now, including centralized management and AES 256-bit encryption. However, you need physical access to the machine or a Trusted Platform Module (TPM) chip—which is easy on-premises, but challenging in a cloud/hosted environment. Now with help from partner solutions, you can have the security you want in your hybrid or cloud-only world. Read more.

Success Stories

Cloud-based document management

With M-Files Cloud Vault, you won't waste time searching for a document, re-creating information, or using the wrong version. Instead, you can just tag your documents and save them in your vault—and they'll automatically be saved in the cloud and made available to anyone with access, anywhere they are.

M-Files Cloud Vault is the first professional document management solution running on the Azure platform, so you can take advantage of Microsoft's highly scalable and reliable cloud-based platform and geographically distributed data centers to rapidly deploy solutions.

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Fueling the oil and gas industry with Azure IoT services

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Leading game developer selects Azure to meet surging customer demand

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Azure enabled timely media content delivery with economics of cloud

“Our reporters can now draft a story on-site, prepare the video footage in Azure, and have it uploaded and published in an extremely efficient manner… the time needed to produce and upload a video clip can be hugely reduced by about 30 percent.” —Peter Kuo, Publisher & CEO, Hong Kong Daily News under Emperor Group

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Integrated mobile marketing platform powered by Azure boosts sales, increases loyalty

“Each of our customers’ apps is very different, but the platform is exactly the same. There is a single code base that’s deployed into an individual Azure environment for each customer.” —David Inggs, Chief Executive Officer, VMob

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Microsoft Azure Marketplace

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Featured services

“While there are hardware-based solutions that can do [web acceleration], they are tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars more expensive than NGINX Plus… Few products can do all of that well. We found that NGINX was the best and easiest.” —Vinay Kudithipudi, VP of Data Centers and Infrastructure, Gogo Inflight Internet

NGINX Plus allows you to scale the performance and availability of your web and mobile applications quickly and easily. NGINX Plus combines Load Balancing, Web Serving, Caching and Media Streaming for flexible, cost-effective application delivery and acceleration improving user experience. Find out why the world's busiest websites use NGINX—try it free on Azure for 30 days.

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Seagate's EVault Backup Service for Azure delivers simplified, cross-platform, multi-hypervisor server backup and recovery for the distributed enterprise.

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New in Marketplace

The Cloud Live service, powered by Aventus, combines iStreamPlanet’s content acquisition, ingest, live-encoding services, and professional support with Azure Media Services' multi-format packaging and highly-available streaming services.

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