Azure Newsletter

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Be Informed

Announcing website version of the Azure Newsletter

Thanks to feedback from our subscribers, we’ve created a website version of the newsletter that allows you to filter content by category (currently only available in US English). Have a look and let us know what you think!

Why we need a public cloud for the public good

Last month, Microsoft Chief Executive Officer, Satya Nadella, announced that Microsoft Philanthropies will donate USD 1 billion in cloud computing resources over the next three years to 70,000 non-profits and NGOs worldwide. Three initiatives are part of this commitment: serving the broad computing, storage and software needs of the non-profit community; expanding access to cloud resources for faculty research in universities; and reaching new communities with last-mile connectivity and cloud services. For more information, make sure that you read the blog post from Brad Smith, President and Chief Legal Officer.

First preview of Microsoft Azure Stack

We’re delivering on the next phase of our hybrid cloud strategy with the first preview of Microsoft Azure Stack. Born from Azure, Azure Stack helps organisations to deliver Azure services from their own data centres. With Azure Stack, Microsoft is bringing proven innovation – including infrastructure as a service (IaaS) and higher level platform as a service (PaaS) services – from hyper-scale data centres to on-premises, enterprise-scale environments to meet customers’ business requirements. For more information, read this blog post or watch this on-demand video.

Featured customer-submitted story: How Long To Beat Steam

How Long To Beat Steam ( is a single-page application that developer Ohad Schneider created from scratch. It aggregates and analyses Steam game time statistics. It's entirely based on Azure and uses many of its tools: Azure App Service, Azure Machine Learning, WebJobs, Table storage, Blob storage, ASP.NET Web API, Application Insights, SendGrid and Zapier. It’s the best of its kind and has been featured on some of the biggest gaming sites in the world, including GameSpot. Ohad plans on open sourcing the project in the future.

Do you have a story that you want to share with your fellow Azure Newsletter readers? Submit your story and you could see it here!

Microsoft IoT Hub generally available

Microsoft IoT Hub helps to provide a secure way to connect, provision, monitor, update and send commands to devices – allowing companies to control millions of Internet of Things (IoT) assets running on a broad set of operating systems and protocols, in order to jumpstart IoT projects. Azure IoT Hub is available as a standalone service or as one of the services used in Microsoft Azure IoT Suite.

New user interface for Azure Data Factory now available

Have a look at the new monitoring and management user interface for Azure Data Factory, and try our new code-free data movement experience. We’ve simplified error discovery and fixes, made it easy to pause and restart pipelines, and added new troubleshooting views, global time filters and easy alert management. You can try our new code-free data movement for Azure Blob storage, Azure SQL Database or Azure SQL Data Warehouse, either as a one-off or on a schedule, with just a few simple clicks. Soon, we’ll support Azure Data Lake Store, Azure Table storage and on-premises SQL and file shares. Access monitoring and code-free data movement features from your Azure Data Factory in the Azure portal.

SQL Server Stretch Database in public preview

With SQL Server Stretch Database, you can dynamically stretch warm and cold transactional data from SQL Server 2016 to Azure. Unlike cold data storage, your data is always available. Stretch Database enables you to provide longer data retention timelines without overspending. Choose from different levels depending on how often you will access the data, then scale up or down as needed. Using Stretch Database doesn’t require any application changes, and you can use Always Encrypted with Stretch Database to extend data in a more secure manner.

Azure Container Service in public preview

Azure Container Service helps you to use Docker images and Linux containers in a production environment, providing management and orchestration at scale while supporting the same tools and technologies for building and deployment that you already use for your containerised applications. You select the size and number of hosts, and choose the orchestrator, then Container Service manages the details. Container Service offers you a choice of tools for container orchestration and scale operations: you can choose Docker Swarm and Compose for a native container experience, or Apache Mesos and popular Mesos frameworks for flexible deployment and management of large production workloads.

Azure HDInsight leveraging new generation of D-Series instances

Azure HDInsight is now available on a new generation of D-Series instances called Dv2. These Dv2-Series instances carry the same memory and disk configurations as the current D-Series, but offer more powerful CPUs that run up to 35 per cent faster than the current D-Series, giving you more value for the same price. Both D-Series and Dv2-Series instances are ideal for big data because they have faster CPUs, better local disk performance and larger memory. New Dv2-Series instances will be available in the Central US, North Central US, South Central US, West US, East US, East US 2, North Europe, West Europe, East Asia, Southeast Asia, Japan East, Australia East, Australia Southeast and Central India regions. D-Series will continue to be available, but the Dv2-Series is recommended.

Azure Premium Storage generally available in additional regions

Azure Premium Storage is a solid-state drive (SSD)-based storage solution designed to support I/O-intensive workloads. With Premium Storage, you can add up to 64 TB of persistent storage per virtual machine (VM), with more than 80,000 I/O Operations Per Second (IOPS) per VM and extremely low latencies for read operations. Offering an SLA of 99.9 per cent availability, Premium Storage is now available in the Australia Southeast and East Asia regions, as well as other regions previously announced.

Google Widevine modular licence delivery generally available in Azure Media Services

Using a single H.264 encoded multi-bit rate MP4, you can now apply common encryption (CENC) with either Widevine or Microsoft PlayReady to protect your premium content. You can also configure an easy, pay-as-you-go Widevine licence service in Azure Media Services. With Azure Media Player, you can play back Widevine-protected content using Encrypted Media Extensions (EME) on Chrome and Android devices with HTML5 video. Read this blog post for more information.

Red Hat Enterprise Linux images generally available through Azure Marketplace

Red Hat Enterprise Linux, now available in all regions, is offered on a pay-as-you-go model, with per-hour billing. Red Hat and Microsoft will also provide Red Hat Enterprise Linux customers on Azure with the ability to connect directly to the Red Hat Customer Portal for access to knowledge base articles, reference architectures and product information, and to open support cases directly with Red Hat.

Azure Hybrid Use Benefit generally available

Moving to the cloud is a journey that many customers make in hybrid mode. That’s why we’ve created the Azure Hybrid Use Benefit to enable Windows Server customers to run Windows VMs on Azure at a cheaper rate, providing significant cost savings. Customers must have Software Assurance for Windows Server to use this benefit. For more information, please visit the Azure Hybrid Use Benefit web page.

New Hortonworks lab available from the Super Human campaign

Try the new Hortonworks lab and realise the full potential and power of big data with Hortonworks Data Platform (HDP), the completely open-source Apache Hadoop data platform architected for the enterprise. Complete the step-by-step, hands-on lab and you’ll earn a Crazyflie 2.0 minidrone or an Azure Pass. Register now.

Be Empowered

Join Scott Guthrie, Joseph Sirosh and other experts live at Data Driven SQL event

Companies that transform data into intelligent action are outperforming their competitors and will be the businesses of the future. Hear Microsoft’s Chief Executive Officer, Satya Nadella, and customers share how data insights are driving business transformation. Microsoft leaders will also share how customers are embracing data to drive innovation and why SQL Server 2016 has become the industry leader. Save the date to watch it live on 10 March 2016, at 10:00 AM Eastern Time (UTC-5).

Register now to join the Azure team at Microsoft Ignite

It’s time! Register now for Microsoft Ignite and put Atlanta on your calendar for 26-30 September 2016. Be there when top industry leaders talk about what’s next, get direct access to the people who built the tools that you use every day and surround yourself with smart people talking tech, everywhere you look. From high-level strategy to deep product insights, you’ll hear about new technologies and explore real-world solutions to today’s challenges. Customise your schedule for a deeper insight into the topics that matter most to you and your organisation. Register now.

Azure Mobile Engagement – Introduction

Azure Friday’s Scott Hanselman learns about how you can use Azure Mobile Engagement, including how to combine big data collection with real-time processing to trigger engagement scenarios according to app-user behaviour and demographics. Watch now.

TechNet Virtual Conference 2016

Join us on 1-3 March 2016, for a new virtual event covering IT topics such as security and management, enterprise mobility, Windows 10 and the cloud. It’s a technology summit that you don’t want to miss, presented by expert Microsoft and industry speakers delivered straight to your desk or mobile device. Register now.

Connect with Microsoft open-source pros on Periscope

Over the next few weeks, Microsoft is hosting a Microsoft + Open Source Q&A series on Periscope with members of teams from across Microsoft who use open-source software in their day-to-day jobs. From Node.js and PHP to Docker and Red Hat, our resident pros answer questions from Twitter followers. Sessions are live every Thursday at 11:30 AM Pacific Time (UTC-8). Learn more about the series on the Openness blog.

Get hands-on with the future of innovation

Take Azure technology for a real-time test drive in a safe, VM testing environment and experience first-hand how to bring your data centre to the cloud while optimising on-premises solutions. Discover how the innovative Azure infrastructure services boost productivity and provide reliable data access across platforms – including open-source software compatibility. Bring your laptop and join your peers for a free, scenario-driven, one-day event delivered by subject-matter experts. Find an event near you.

TechNet on Tour | Cloud infrastructure

Attend this free, full-day training session and discover first-hand how to integrate cloud solutions with your existing on-premises data centre, without sacrificing security, control, reliability and scalability. You’ll see how advanced Azure infrastructure services enable you to provide reliable data access while maximising productivity across platforms, including Microsoft and open-source software, GitHub and more. Register for training.

Join us for Global Azure Bootcamp

Your science algorithm can run on tens of thousands of cores in the Azure platform on 16 April 2016! The Global Azure Bootcamp is an amazing community event with several hundred locations worldwide and 10,000 attendees. Each year, we run a shared global science lab. The attendees deploy the lab to their own Azure subscription, effectively lending some cores and compute hours to the lab. This creates a “global supercluster” of servers cranking away at some interesting science. Do you have an algorithm and data to exercise on 10,000+ cores? Read more.

Let's dev this. | Cloud Tour

Please join us to learn how the newest Azure services and the latest release of Visual Studio 2015 come together to help you to build, move and manage a variety of apps in the cloud. Register for training.

Migrating to Mobile Apps

In this episode, learn how you can migrate and upgrade your Azure Mobile Services into the Mobile Apps feature in Azure App Service. We’ll walk through a current Mobile Services implementation and its connected application, then show how a migration to Mobile Apps is performed. Next, see the steps that you would take to upgrade a .NET Mobile Services back-end to a mobile app.

To the Cloud! Building a Windows app using Windows App Studio

Concluding our special TechNet Radio “To the Cloud” series, Blain Barton welcomes James Quick to the show as they demonstrate Windows App Studio and how to build mobile apps to supplement your company’s website. Watch the show.

Getting started with Azure security for the IT professional

Explore cloud security in Azure, and look at security in data centre operations, VM configuration and network architecture. If you’re looking at the cloud, you probably have a lot of questions about available solutions, including whether they meet industry standards, attestations and ISO certifications. Get the information and the confidence that you need from the pros who know as they demystify security in the cloud. Watch now.

Exploratory IoT analysis with R

In this video, learn how to use R and RStudio to perform analysis from an Azure VM. Watch as we do an initial exploratory analysis on a water flow data set that came from a prototype which we built. The prototype consists of a water pump, a valve and a flow meter. The data set exists in Azure SQL Database.

Optimising private cloud for Dev and Test with Windows Azure Pack

Jennelle Crothers welcomes Jenny Dooley from the Microsoft IT team to share the team’s experience of using Windows Azure Pack in developing, deploying and supporting internal lab environments for product development at Microsoft. Listen in as they discuss how Microsoft IT provided a scalable private cloud for Dev and Test to enable rapid and agile product development. Watch now.

Be Entertained

*Comic source: Reprinted with permission.

Be Inspired

Norway’s largest power-grid operator and distributor jumpstarts efficiency with Azure

Hafslund ASA, Norway’s largest power-grid operator and distributor, chose Azure as its data platform to meet new challenges, including requirements to implement an automated metering system by 2019. The first phase of the project includes a billing solution. In the next phase, the company will collect and analyse data from smart meters for greater energy and operational efficiency.

Learn more

Property management company starts making Azure home

Property rental companies make sure that their apartments have the right security in the face of threats or emergencies. But shouldn’t their online presence be just as secure and trustworthy? Camden Property Trust certainly thinks so – which is why the company has a robust disaster recovery strategy in place and actively works to maintain security.

Learn more

Be Enhanced


Azure powers cloud media exchange hub

VSN is a global technology company specialising in providing advanced solutions for the broadcast and media sector. VSNEXPLORER is VSN’s flagship product and offers a secured media management platform. VSNEXPLORER helps organisations worldwide to exchange, transform, collaborate and distribute media from remote locations with ease. When asked by its customer La Xarxa to unify its media in a single, multi-purpose space, VSN chose Azure. Download the mini-case study to find out more about how VSN and its customers benefit from the choice of Azure.

Azure Marketplace

Featured: Giving the ability to explore and understand data

Looker lets everyone in an organisation explore company data while giving the data team the control to curate and govern that data. Looker’s modelling layer was built for flexibility and reusability, making it fast enough to support a wide range of analyses while providing a unified and consistent source of truth. Business teams can get answers to their questions quickly, and data teams can focus on the model, new data sources and more complex analysis, instead of a never-ending list of requests from across the company. Looker is a launch partner for Azure SQL Data Warehouse.

Visit Marketplace page

New: Introducing Appcelerator Arrow Builder

Appcelerator Arrow Builder is an opinionated framework to build and deploy Node.js applications to the cloud. With Arrow Builder, developers can connect, model, transform and optimise data from any data source in minutes. Arrow’s API endpoints can be consumed by any client application for quick, simple access to back-end systems.

Visit Marketplace page

Editor's Note


It’s hard to believe that we’re already well into February – I hope that the last few weeks have been good for you. As noted at the top of the newsletter, we’ve created a first iteration of a web-based newsletter based on your feedback of wanting to filter content. We’re working on adding other capabilities in the coming months, so let us know what is and isn’t working for you. I’m also very excited about the donation of the public cloud that Satya has announced. It’s inspiring to see that cloud computing can be used to help address some of the problems facing our world today.