• 10 min read

Azure.Source – Volume 24

Keep current on what's happening in Azure, including what's now in preview, generally available, news & updates, and more.

Azure database services for MySQL and PostgreSQL, the next generation of Azure Alerts, and Azure Databricks are now generally available. Last week, we were at GDC 2018 in San Francisco with representation from Azure, PlayFab and Xbox. Meanwhile at OCP Summit 2018 in San Jose, we presented on Project Denali, Project Cerebrus, and SONiC. See all the details below on those topics and more.

Now in preview

Azure DNS Private Zones now available in public preview – Azure DNS Private Zones enables customers to host DNS zones within their virtual networks, and it enables name resolution both within and across virtual networks. You can also configure zone names with a split-horizon or split-brain view, allowing a private and public DNS zone to share the same name. Azure DNS Private Zones is available in all Azure regions.

Also in preview

Now generally available

Announcing general availability of Azure database services for MySQL and PostgreSQL – Available in preview since May 2017, both services are now generally available with built-in high availability, a 99.99% availability SLA, elastic scaling for performance, and industry leading security and compliance to Azure. Azure Database for MySQL is a fully-managed relational database service based on the open source MySQL Server engine capable of handing mission-critical workload with predictable performance and dynamic scalability. Azure Database for PostgreSQL is a fully-managed relational database service based on the open source Postgres database engine capable of handling mission-critical workloads with predictable performance, security, high availability, and dynamic scalability.

The next generation of Azure Alerts has arrived – Now you can set up alerts to monitor the metrics and log data for the entire stack across your infrastructure, application, and Azure platform. With the release of the next generation alerts, we are providing a new consolidated alerts experience and offering a new alerts platform that will be faster and leveraged by other Azure services. In addition, the metric alerts for logs capability announced earlier this month is in public preview.

Azure Databricks, industry-leading analytics platform powered by Apache Spark™ – Azure Databricks, which is now generally available, is a fast, easy, and collaborative Apache Spark-based analytics platform optimized for Azure. Designed in collaboration with the founders of Apache Spark, Azure Databricks combines the best of Databricks and Azure to help customers accelerate innovation with one-click set up, streamlined workflows, and an interactive workspace that enables collaboration between data scientists, data engineers, and business analysts.

Global performance acceleration with Azure Traffic Manager – Traffic View, announced in public preview last fall, is now generally available. Traffic Manager provides you with DNS-level routing so that your end users are directed to healthy endpoints based on the routing method specified when you created the profile. Traffic View provides Traffic Manager with a view of your user bases (at a DNS resolver granularity level) and their traffic pattern. When you enable Traffic View, this information is processed to provide you with actionable insights.

Columnstore support in Standard tier Azure SQL Databases – Columnstore indexes are the standard for storing and querying large data warehousing fact tables. It uses column-based data storage and query processing to achieve up to 10x query performance gains in your data warehouse over traditional row-oriented storage, and up to 10x data compression over the uncompressed data size. Clustered and NonClustered Columnstore indexes for Standard databases are now generally available in the S3 and above pricing tiers

Azure Event Hubs integration with Apache Spark now generally available – Event Hubs users can now use Spark to build end-to-end streaming applications more easily. The Event Hubs connector for Spark supports Spark Core, Spark Streaming, and Structured Streaming for Spark 2.1, Spark 2.2, and Spark 2.3. For users new to Spark, Spark Streaming and Structured Streaming are scalable, fault-tolerant stream processing engines. These processing engines allow users to process huge amounts of data using complex algorithms expressed with high-level functions like map, reduce, join, and window. This data can then be pushed to file systems, databases, or even back to Event Hubs.

Also generally available

News & updates

Build your next iOS and Android game with $2,500+ of gaming services – A limited offer of $2,500 worth of PlayFab, App Center, and Azure services free for up to a year is now available to the first 1000 registrants. PlayFab offers the most complete backend platform built exclusively for live games. Microsoft acquired PlayFab in January.

Cloud Platform Release Announcements for March 21, 2018 – The Cloud Platform News Bytes Blog provides a recap of key announcements that were made last Wednesday across Microsoft’s Cloud Platform organization.

Improved multi-member Blockchain networks now available on Azure – Significant enhancements to our Ethereum on Azure offering, including high availability of Blockchain network presence; a simplified deployment experience; and monitoring and operational support. The Ethereum Consortium Blockchain Network solution template simplifies the infrastructure and protocol substantially by deploying and configuring a consortium Ethereum network from the Azure Portal or cmdline with a single click.

Announcing Terraform availability in the Azure Marketplace – The Terraform solution is now available in the Azure Marketplace. This solution will enable teams to use shared identity, using Managed Service Identity (MSI), and shared state using Azure Storage. These features will allow you to use a consistent hosted instance of Terraform for DevOps Automation and production scenarios.

Azure Security Center and discovery of partner solutions – Security Center makes it easy to enable integrated security solutions in Azure. Auto discovery of partner solutions that have already been deployed in an Azure subscription is now available. Discovered partner solutions will be displayed in security solutions panel. This feature is available in the standard pricing tier of Security Center, and you can try Security Center free for the first 60 days.

7 month retirement notice: Access Control Service – Access Control Service, otherwise known as ACS, is officially being retired. ACS will remain available for existing customers until November 7, 2018. After this date, ACS will be shut down, causing all requests to the service to fail.

Azure Redis Cache feature updates – Firewall and reboot functions are now supported in all three Azure Redis Cache tiers at no additional cost. We are also previewing the ability to pin your Redis instance to specific Availability Zone-enabled Azure regions.

Additional news & updates

Technical content & training

Unlock your data’s potential with Azure SQL Data Warehouse and Azure Databricks – The general availability of the Azure Databricks Service comes with built-in support for Azure SQL Data Warehouse, which enables any data scientist or data engineer to have a seamless experience connecting their Azure Databricks Cluster and their Azure SQL Data Warehouse when building advanced ETL (extract, transform, and load data) for Modern Data Warehouse Architectures or accessing relational data for Machine Learning and AI. In this post, you'll learn how the combination of these services can provide a truly transformative analytics platform for businesses.

Securing Azure Database for MySQL and Azure Database for PostgreSQL – Azure Database for PostgreSQL and Azure Database for MySQL inherit the fundamentally proven trusted security architecture from Microsoft Azure. Azure Database for PostgreSQL and Azure Database for MySQL protection starts with Azure network security. In this post, you'll learn more about the security model.

Compliance offerings for Azure Database for MySQL and Azure Database for PostgreSQL – Azure has over 50 national, regional and industry specific compliance offering that Azure Database for PostgreSQL and Azure Database for MySQL leverage as part of Microsoft’s Trusted Cloud foundation of security, privacy, compliance, and transparency. In this post, you'll learn more about the compliance offerings available.

Serverless computing recipes for your cloud applications – Read the free Azure Serverless Computing Cookbook that describes with rich code examples, how to solve common problems using serverless Azure Functions. In this post, you'll learn more about serverless computing, which enables full abstraction of servers, instant event-driven scalability, and pay-per-use.

Text Recognition for Video in Microsoft Video Indexer – Learn about the advanced machine learning in Video Indexer that goes beyond OCR for recognizing and extracting text that is displayed in videos.

Modernize index maintenance with Resumable Online Index Rebuild – Thanks to the growing sizes of databases, index rebuilds can take a very long time. Combine that with the business needs for your applications to be always available and performant and this can be an issue. Big OLTP environments with busy workloads often have very short maintenance windows with some too short to execute large index rebuild operations. You can use ROIR (Resumable Online Index Rebuild) to configure a rebuild to execute only during a maintenance window of defined length and pause your rebuild operation at any time to allow other higher priority tasks to execute.

How to get more leads and close deals faster with Microsoft’s Marketplaces – Microsoft provides two distinct marketplace storefronts that allow partners to list offers, enable trials, and transact directly with Microsoft's customers and ecosystem: Azure Marketplace and AppSource. These storefronts allow customers to find, try, and buy applications and services that accelerate their Digital Transformation, and help publishers grow their businesses by increasing access to Microsoft's customers and partner ecosystem. Watch this webinar to learn about customer purchase behavior, the latest techniques to acquire customers through the Microsoft Azure Marketplace and AppSource, and help to determine which marketplace is the best sales engine for you, which will soon be available for on-demand viewing.

Deploying WordPress Application using Visual Studio Team Services and Azure – Part two – This post is the second part of two blog posts describing how to setup a CI/CD pipeline using Visual Studio Team Services (VSTS) for deploying a Dockerized custom WordPress website working with Azure WebApp for Containers and Azure Database for MySQL. This part focuses on the Continuous Delivery (CD) part by using the VSTS Release management.


Join Microsoft at the GPU Technology Conference – We recently announced the general availability of our NVIDIA Tesla V100-powered virtual machines and an expansion of our other offerings to more global regions. If you're in San Jose this week (March 26-29) at NVIDIA’s GPU Technology Conference, stop by Booth 603 to learn how Azure customers combine the flexibility and elasticity of the cloud with the capability of NVIDIA’s GPUs.

OCP Summit 2018

Microsoft creates industry standards for datacenter hardware storage and security – Both storage and security are the next frontiers for hardware innovation. The Open Compute Project (OCP) U.S. Summit 2018, which was held in San Jose, CA last week, brings together industry leaders to help grow, drive and support the open hardware ecosystem. Microsoft presented Project Denali (a new standard for cloud SSD storage) and Project Cerebrus (a security co-processor for enabling hardware security). At OCP, we highlighted the latest advancements across these key focus areas to further the industry in enabling the future of the cloud.

Project Denali to define flexible SSDs for cloud-scale applications – Learn more about Project Denali drives, which provide the flexibility needed to optimize for the workloads of a wide variety of cloud applications, the simplicity to keep pace with rapid innovations in NAND flash memory and application design, and the scale required for multitenant hardware that is so common in the cloud.

SONiC, the network innovation powerhouse behind Azure – Learn more about Software for Open Networking in the Cloud (SONiC), the default switch OS powering Azure and many other parts of the Microsoft Cloud. Microsoft open-sourced this innovation to the community, making it available on our SONiC GitHub Repository. SONiC is a uniquely extensible platform, with a large and growing ecosystem of hardware and software partners, that offers multiple switching platforms and various software components.

Developer spotlight

Sample App: Azure Mobile Apps – structured data sync with files – The Azure Mobile Apps client and server SDK support offline sync of structured data with CRUD operations against the /tables endpoint. Generally this data is stored in a database or similar store, and generally these data stores cannot store large binary data efficiently. Also, some applications have related data that is stored elsewhere (e.g., blob storage, SharePoint), and it is useful to be able to create associations between records in the /tables endpoint and other data. This sample adds support for images to the Mobile Apps Todo list quickstart (available for multiple mobile platforms).

Under the hood of the Azure Mobile App – Jacob Jedryszek built the Azure Mobile App for iOS and Android using Xamarin Native in C#. In this blog post, Jacob goes into details on Xamarin, CI/CD, storing secrets, UI testing, and more.

Secure and deploy your mobile apps in Microsoft Azure App Service – Learn more about App Service Authentication/Authorization, which is a feature that provides a way for your application to sign in users so that you don't have to change code on the app backend. It provides an easy way to protect your application and work with per-user data.

How we built it: Next Games' global gaming platform in the Cloud – This episode of the Microsoft Mechanics series How we built it features Chief Technology Officer and co-founder of Finnish mobile gaming company Next Games, Kalle Hiitola. Next Games built a successful global connected gaming platform on Azure spanning 166 countries and growing. Their popular “Walking Dead No Man’s Land” game is aligned to the popular Walking Dead TV series, which uniquely releases a rapid cadence of new gaming chapters and characters to compliment the release of each new show episode.

PlayFab Tutorial: Using Resettable Statistics and Leaderboards – This tutorial provides a complete walkthrough of how to configure and manage statistics with versioning, which enables “resetting” of statistics, and by extension, leaderboards. In it, we’ll focus on how to use the Admin API methods for this, with additional info on using the Client and Server API methods to query the data, both for the current version as well as old ones. The goal is to provide developers with a technical review of how resettable statistics work in PlayFab, and all the ways they can be used in your games.

PlayFab Unity Editor Extensions – PlayFab's plugin (currently in beta) houses a new custom inspector serving as the remodeled “front door” for our Unity Developers, which will continue to evolve as PlayFab's features grow. This plugin houses a custom inspector for viewing and configuring the PlayFab SDK.

Azure shows

Using Habitat in Azure – Nick Rycar from Chef stops by Azure Friday to chat with Donovan Brown about Habitat, a simple, flexible way to build, deploy, and manage cloud-native applications. Habitat makes it easier to develop and promote changes by enabling each instance of your application to continually and independently apply updates as soon as they're ready.

For more information, see:

The Azure Podcast: Episode 221 – Graph API – Andrew Liu, a Senior PM on the Azure Cosmos DB team talks to us about the Graph API and he is obviously very passionate about it! He gives us some great use-cases for Graphs and how we can use the service to build these types of applications quickly.