• 9 min read

Last Week in Azure #22: Week of March 5

Last week, it became even more evident that Azure is the best place for all of your applications and data with numerous announcements about investments that dramatically expand the choice and ROI of moving your SQL Server and open source applications to Azure.

Last week, it became even more evident that Azure is the best place for all of your applications and data with numerous announcements about investments that dramatically expand the choice and ROI of moving your SQL Server and open source applications to Azure. But these investments aren't just about Azure. They deliver deeper platform consistency across on-premises and cloud with a rich open source application framework and database support, and expanded cost-savings for Microsoft customers.

Now in preview

Making Azure the best place for all your applications and data – SQL Server customers can now try the preview for SQL Database Managed Instance (see: Migrate your databases to a fully managed service with Azure SQL Database Managed Instance), an Azure Hybrid Benefit for SQL Server license benefit, Azure Database Migration Service preview for Managed Instance, and the preview for Apache Tomcat® support in Azure App Service. This post also forecasts the general availability of Azure Database for MySQL and PostgreSQL in the coming weeks, making even easier to bring your open source powered applications to Azure.

Introducing SQL Information Protection for Azure SQL Database and on-premises SQL Server! – SQL Information Protection (SQL IP) introduces a set of advanced services and new SQL capabilities, forming a new information protection paradigm in SQL aimed at protecting the data, not just the database. Data Discovery & Classification (currently in preview) provides advanced capabilities built into Azure SQL Database for discovering, classifying, labeling & protecting the sensitive data in your databases. Discovering and classifying your most sensitive data (business, financial, healthcare, PII, etc.) can play a pivotal role in your organizational information protection stature.

Faster Metric Alerts for Logs now in limited public preview – The limited public preview of the new capability Metric Alerts for Logs that brings down the time it takes to generate a log alert to less than 5 minutes. The Metric Alerts on Logs preview currently supports the following log types on OMS Log Analytics: heartbeat, perf counters (including those from SCOM), and update.

Public preview of Java on App Service, built-in support for Tomcat and OpenJDK – The public preview of Java apps on App Service includes built-in support for Apache Tomcat 8.5/9.0 and OpenJDK 8, making it easy for Java developers to deploy web or API apps to Azure. Just bring your .jar or .war file to Azure App Service and we’ll take care of the capacity provisioning, server maintenance, and load balancing.

Visibility into network activity with Traffic Analytics – now in public preview – Traffic Analytics is a cloud-based solution that provides visibility into user and application traffic on your cloud networks. Traffic Analytics analyzes NSG Flow Logs across Azure regions and equips you with actionable information to optimize workload performance, secure applications and data, audit your organization’s network activity and stay compliant.

Azure SQL Database now offers zone redundant Premium databases and elastic pools – SQL Database now offers built-in support of Availability Zones in its Premium service tier. By placing individual database replicas in different availability zones, it makes Premium databases resilient to a much larger set of failures, including catastrophic datacenter outages. The built-in support of Availability Zones further enhances the High Availability (HA) solutions in Azure SQL Database. The preview of zone redundant Premium databases and pools is currently available in Central US, West Europe, and France Central, with additional regions added over time.

Now generally available

Update management, inventory, and change tracking in Azure Automation now generally available – Azure Automation delivers a cloud-based automation and configuration service that provides consistent management across your Azure and non-Azure environments. It consists of process automation, update management, and configuration features. Azure Automation provides complete control during deployment, operations, and decommissioning of workloads and resources.

Announcing Storage Service Encryption with customer managed keys general availability – Storage Service Encryption with customer managed keys uses Azure Key Vault that provides highly available and scalable secure storage for RSA cryptographic keys backed by FIPS 140-2 Level 2 validated Hardware Security Modules (HSMs). Key Vault streamlines the key management process and enables customers to maintain full control of keys used to encrypt data, manage, and audit their key usage.

Just-in-Time VM Access is generally available – Azure Security Center provides several threat prevention mechanisms to help you reduce surface areas susceptible to attack. One of those mechanisms is Just-in-Time (JIT) VM Access, which reduces your exposure to network volumetric attacks by enabling you to deny persistent access while providing controlled access to VMs when needed.

NCv3 VMs generally available, other GPUs expanding regions – NCv3 brings NVIDIA’s latest GPU – the Tesla V100 – to our best-in-class HPC, machine learning, and AI products to bring huge amounts of value across a variety of industries. The NCv3 virtual machines are now generally available in the US East region. We'll be adding NCv3 to EU West and US South Central later this month, AP Southeast in April, and UK South & IN Central in May. We’re also expanding our NV and ND series VMs into additional regions.

News & updates

Get Reserved Instance purchase recommendations based on usage pattern – If you have Virtual Machines (VM) running in azure, you can take advantage of discounted pricing on Reserved Instances (RI) and pre-pay for your Virtual Machines. Microsoft consumption recommendation apis looks at your usage for seven, 30, or 60 days and recommends optimum configurations of Reserved Instances. It calculates the cost you would pay if you did not have RI and cost you will pay with RI optimizing your savings.

Build Spring Boot 2.0 apps with Azure Starters and new VSCode extensions – the Spring Boot Starters for Azure now include support for Spring Boot 2.0, which is already available on Spring Initializr. Plus, with new Java and Spring extensions for Visual Studio Code you can build production-ready apps and easily deploy them to the cloud. Visual Studio Code is a free, open source editor for macOS, Linux and Windows.

Microsoft and Esri launch Geospatial AI on Azure – Microsoft and Esri now offer the GeoAI Data Science Virtual Machine (DSVM) as part of our Data Science Virtual Machine/Deep Learning Virtual Machine family of products on Azure. This is a result of a collaboration between the two companies and will bring AI, cloud technology and infrastructure, geospatial analytics and visualization together to help create more powerful and intelligent applications.

Azure Data Lake tools for VS Code now supports job view and job monitoring – Azure Data Lake Tools for Visual Studio Code now includes job monitoring and job view, which enables you to perform real-time monitoring for the jobs you submit. You can also view job summary and job details for historical jobs as well as download any of the input or output data and resources files associated with the job.

Microsoft releases automation for HIPAA/HITRUST compliance – The Azure Security and Compliance Blueprint – HIPAA/HITRUST Health Data and AI offers a turn-key deployment of an Azure PaaS solution to demonstrate how to securely ingest, store, analyze, and interact with health data while being able to meet industry compliance requirements. The blueprint helps accelerate cloud adoption and utilization for customers with data that is regulated.

New app usage monitoring capabilities in Application Insights – Recent improvements to the usage analytics tools in Application Insights can help your team better understand overall usage, dive deep into the impact of performance on customer experience, and give more visibility into user flows. Learn more about the new Impact tool that analyzes performance impact and looks for correlations between any property of measurement in your telemetry and conversion rates. And see how the User Flows tool can analyze what users did before they visited some page or custom event in your site, in addition to what they did afterward.

What’s brewing in Visual Studio Team Services: March 2018 Digest – Buck Hodges provides a comprehensive overview of what's new in Visual Studio Team Services, which releases new features every three weeks to help teams in all areas of their Azure workflow, for apps written in any language and deployed to any OS.

Azure Government – technology innovation shaping the future – At the Microsoft Government Tech Summit in Washington D.C. last week, we announced Azure Government Secret regions for classified data, new and unique hybrid approaches to IT modernization with Azure Stack, and growing connectivity options with new ExpressRoute locations. We’re also releasing new capabilities to accelerate developer and IT productivity and efficiency with DevTest Labs, Logic Apps and Power BI embedded.

Gartner reaffirms Microsoft as a leader in Data Management Solutions for Analytics – Microsoft has once again been positioned as a leader in Gartner's 2018 Magic Quadrant for Data Management Solutions for Analytics (DMSA). Gartner has also positioned Microsoft as a leader in the Magic Quadrant for Analytics and Business Intelligence Platforms, and in the Magic Quadrant for Operational Database Management Systems.

Technical content

A digital transformation Journey featuring Contoso Manufacturing and Azure IoT – Learn how Azure IoT can help you drive digital transformation in your business in this story-based approach. Instead of listing a portfolio of products and services, let me tell you the story of how Contoso HVAC’s journey to introduce Azure IoT with a different perspective transformed its business.

Azure’s layered approach to physical security – In this first in a series of blog posts about the secure foundation Microsoft provides to host your infrastructure, applications, and data, learn about how Microsoft designs, builds and operates datacenters in a way that strictly controls physical access to the areas where customer data is stored.


Join Microsoft at the Rice Oil and Gas HPC conference – We’ll be at the Rice Oil and Gas HPC conference in Houston, Texas on March 12-13, 2018. Here we will talk about Microsoft's commitment to providing the resources that HPC users need.

Join Microsoft at Supercomputing Frontiers Europe – If you’re in Warsaw, Poland March 12-15, you’ll want to come and join Microsoft at Supercomputing Frontiers Europe. This conference is a great opportunity to come together with high-performance computing leaders and practitioners. Microsoft will be there to talk about how Azure enables our customers to run true HPC workloads in the cloud.

Developer spotlight

The Xamarin Show | Episode 28: Azure Functions for Mobile Apps with Donna Malayeri – Donna Malayeri, Program Manager at Microsoft in Azure Functions, introduces us to serverless compute with Azure Functions. We discuss what Azure Functions is, how they work, and why they matter for mobile developers. Donna walks us through several mobile focused scenarios that Azure Functions are ideal for.

The Xamarin Show | Azure Functions for Mobile Apps with Laurent Bugnion – Laurent Bugnion shows how Azure Functions (serverless programming) can be used to create a backend for your Xamarin applications. We'll see a super simple project first and then move on to a more “real life” application.

Quora stays laser-focused on dev velocity and high-quality UX with Visual Studio App Center – Quora empowers its developers to move quickly – deploying up to 100x per day – and a reliable testing framework is critical to their successful, rapid iteration. With Visual Studio App Center, Quora runs automated UI tests on hundreds of real devices, spending less time testing and trying to reproduce errors and more time focusing on what matters: developing and releasing high-quality apps with confidence.

Get Your Azure Mobile Badge from Xamarin University! – Unlock this badge by completing the Xamarin University Azure courses, all of which are available as Self-Guided Learning courses. Once earned, the badge will appear on your Xamarin University profile.

Azure Mobile Apps Quickstarts – If you are new to Mobile Apps, you can get started by following our tutorials for connecting your Mobile Apps cloud backend to Windows Store apps, iOS apps, and Android apps. Tutorials are also available for Xamarin Android, iOS, and Forms apps.

Service updates

Azure shows

Azure Friday: Episode 392 – Using PowerShell Core with Azure – Joey Aiello joins Donovan Brown to discuss PowerShell Core 6.0, a cross-platform, open-source edition of PowerShell based on .NET Core built for heterogeneous environments and the hybrid cloud. You'll also learn about how the upcoming release of OpenSSH for Windows and Windows Server will enable new ways to remotely manage your environments, as well as how PowerShell Core integrates with OpenSSH.

The Azure Podcast: Episode 218 – Ramping up on ARM templates – Based on feedback from our listeners, we chat with Richard Cheney, a Cloud Solution Architect at Microsoft. He give us a loads of advice to help our listeners get ramped up on developing ARM templates, including 'Project Citadel' – a whole set of resources to help you craft the best templates.