Azure Newsletter

Stay informed about the latest Azure features, events and community activities. Browse through past newsletters or subscribe and get the latest Azure news delivered to your inbox.


Be Informed

Featured customer-submitted story: Hollywood Software

Hollywood Software provides studios, theatres and distributors with software and infrastructure to help manage and control end-to-end processes and equipment for digital cinema exhibition. Offering a suite of robust and scalable applications that connect each end of the theatrical distribution/exhibition supply chain, Hollywood Software used their Microsoft Gold Partnership to move existing infrastructure into Azure so they’d be ready for future growth. Now they can scale up and move faster to incorporate the growing and changing requirements of the film industry. They are very pleased to pass many benefits on to their customers.

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!

Upcoming events

Strata + Hadoop World 29 March 2016, San Jose, California, USA

Build 2016 30 March 2016, San Francisco, California, USA

Hadoop Summit 13 April 2016, Dublin, Ireland

OpenStack Summit 25 April 2016, Austin, Texas, USA

PyCon 2016 28 May 2016, Portland, Oregon, USA

Microsoft Developer Camps

Compliance updates for Azure public cloud

We’re adding more certification coverage to our Azure portfolio, so that regulated customers can take advantage of new services. Microsoft has renewed our Azure Service Organization Controls (SOC) 1 and 2 Reports, expanding service coverage to include 14 new services in SOC and achieved a SOC 3. We have also renewed our Azure Payment Card Industry (PCI) certification, updating PCI Data Security Standard (DSS) 3.0 to PCI DSS 3.1 and expanding service coverage. And finally, Microsoft has achieved Japan Cloud Security Gold Mark (CS Gold Mark) accreditation by Japan Information Security Audit Association (JASA). For more information, please visit the Compliance, SOC 1, 2 and 3 Reports, Payment Card Industry (PCI) Data Security Standard (DSS) Level 1 and Cloud Security Mark (Gold) web pages.

Azure Security Center gains new capabilities

Azure Security Center now has new integrated partner solutions from Check Point, Cisco, Fortinet, Imperva and Incapsula. New threat-detection features based on advanced analytics and intelligence from Microsoft can help you detect attacks faster. And a new Power BI Dashboard lets you visualise, analyse, and filter information to reveal trends and attack patterns. Learn more.

Microsoft Azure Active Directory Identity Protection in public preview

Microsoft Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) Identity Protection detects suspicious sign-in activities based on signals such as brute-force attacks, leaked credentials and sign-ins from unfamiliar locations and infected devices. It provides a consolidated view to protect against these activities in real time. A user risk severity is calculated, and risk-based policies can be configured to automatically protect your organisation from future threats.

Azure SQL Database Query Store generally available

Azure SQL Database Query Store collects detailed historical information about all queries, helping to significantly reduce the time to diagnose and resolve performance issues. For example, Query Store can identify queries that used to perform well, but now perform poorly. You can use Query Store to analyse query plan changes for possible performance degradation or force the system to use a particular plan for your query. Over the course of the next couple of months, Query Store will be enabled as the main workload data recorder by default for all Azure SQL databases (existing and new). Data collected within Query Store helps improve the quality of your SQL Database by providing a foundation for performance analysis and tuning features, such as Index Advisor and Query Performance Insight. For more information, watch the Query Store in SQL Server 2016 video.

Azure SQL Database Index Advisor generally available

Azure SQL Database Index Advisor helps you improve the performance of your databases by providing index recommendations based on your historical database usage. As your application and database workload evolve over time, recommendations from Index Advisor adapt and evolve as well. Index Advisor helps make it easy to implement and validate recommended tuning actions. You can choose to review and apply recommended actions yourself or have the service implement recommended actions automatically as they are published.

Azure SQL Database Query Performance Insight generally available

Azure SQL Database Query Performance Insight helps you to understand the impact of your query workload on database resource consumption. In minutes, you can monitor how your apps utilise your database’s resources and implement actions to tune your database or application. Getting started is easy and fast – it only takes a few clicks. Query Performance Insight shows you the CPU consumption of your top queries over time, with drilldowns to the level of query text. This helps you to discover potential performance issues quickly and resolve them before your customers are affected.

On-premises StorSimple Virtual Array generally available for Enterprise Agreement customers

On-premises StorSimple Virtual Array is a version of the StorSimple solution in virtual machine (VM) form installed in a remote or branch office. This provides a cost-effective, lightweight solution that still delivers the value of StorSimple hybrid cloud storage. This includes nearly seamless cloud integration with automated tiering to manage data growth, simplified data protection with cloud-based snapshots and location-independent recovery of data from the cloud.

New Azure Search Basic tier in public preview

Based on customer feedback, Azure Search is introducing a new Basic tier into public preview that fits between the existing Free and Standard tiers. The new Basic tier can search up to 1 million documents or 2 GB of data and delivers the predictable performance available in the Standard tier. Azure Search helps make it easy to set up and manage your own production-ready search index.

HockeyApp available for purchase through Azure

HockeyApp is now available for purchase through Visual Studio Marketplace, with billing via your Azure subscription. HockeyApp provides mobile app distribution, crash reporting and in-app user feedback so you can build the world’s best mobile apps. Start today to make data-driven investments in your mobile apps.

Azure Managed Cache Service and Azure In-Role Cache to be retired 30 November 2016

This is a follow-up reminder for our earlier announcement about the retirement plan. Azure Managed Cache Service and Azure In-Role Cache service will remain available until 30 November 2016. After that date, Managed Cache Service will be shut down, and In-Role Cache service will no longer be supported. We’ll remove support for creating new in-role caches in the first Azure SDK release after 1 February 2016.

Switch your Pay-as-you-go subscription to another offer via the Azure Account Center

Pay-as-you-go subscriptions can now be switched to the 12-month Commitment offer or any of the monthly Azure Credit offers for Visual Studio subscribers. Learn more.

Advanced Support for Partners

Advanced Support for Partners provides cloud-focused support that sits squarely between MPN Technical Services and Premier Support for Partners. Benefits include: one-hour response time (or less) for critical support issues; Services Account Managers as advisors; and proactive guidance and training to accelerate your cloud business, at an affordable monthly subscription price. Find out more or contact us.

Be Empowered

Join the Azure team in Atlanta – register for Microsoft Ignite

Ready to sharpen your Azure skills without interruptions or distractions? You’ll get focused training sessions, hands-on labs and direct access to experts – plus, you can add a full-day Azure training session before the conference even starts to deepen your skills with Microsoft Azure Stack or DEV immersion. So join us in Atlanta! Register now.

Azure Media Services: Helping to protect your media content with AES encryption

Azure Friday’s Scott Hanselman finds out how Azure Media Services can use AES encryption to help protect media content. From AES-128 Clear Key, Microsoft PlayReady and Google Widevine, you can help protect your content on any platform – and it’s a lot easier than you think! Watch now.

Azure Security Center: Help to prevent, detect and respond to threats with increased visibility and control

Managing data and services requires us to keep data security front of mind at all times. Tune in as Kevin Remde, Yuri Diogenes and Tom Shinder walk us through the Azure Security Center, from what it is to why you should use it and how to get started. Watch TechNet Radio.

Office 365: Securing mobile productivity

Mobility isn’t a novelty – it’s a business necessity. Employees must be able to access corporate emails, documents and productivity tools from their devices to stay productive while on the go. However, protecting emails and other corporate data on mobile devices is one of IT’s biggest challenges. So, how do you bridge the divide and give employees an enriched mobile productivity experience without risking data security? Don’t miss this chance to learn more about becoming a more secure mobile workforce with Microsoft. Watch in-depth demos and participate in a live Q&A. Register now.

Anatomy of a breach – how hackers break in

Get an inside look at how Microsoft goes on the attack and defence to help protect its customers and fight cybercrime. Learn more about the Digital Crimes Unit and our collaboration with law enforcement to take down cybercriminals. Watch now.

SQL Server 2005 upgrade: The path to better database performance and security

Extended support for SQL Server 2005 ends on 12 April 2016. We recommend that you learn about the benefits of upgrading your database technology and put a migration plan in place. Our SQL Server 2005 Upgrade webinar is a great place to start. Find out about the risks of continuing to rely on aging technology and the benefits of migrating to SQL Server 2014 and Azure SQL Database. In addition to detailing the performance benefits of upgrading, this webinar offers migration strategies and scenarios, a practical three-step approach to the upgrade process, and important tools and resources to get you started.

Join the Global Azure users’ Bootcamp

On 16 April 2016, Global Azure Bootcamp will happen at hundreds of locations all around the globe, with thousands of attendees gathering to learn about Azure. It’ll be a day of interacting through the Global Science Lab with technology friends everywhere under the hashtag #GlobalAzure. Sponsor, help out at a location near you or simply attend, share and learn! Join in the fun.

TechNet Virtual Conference 2016 on demand

Did you miss the TechNet Virtual Conference? You can now watch all of the sessions on demand. Event sessions presented by industry experts covered topics such as cloud infrastructure, virtualisation, nano services, Windows 10, security, enterprise mobility management and more. Watch the on-demand sessions now.

Bring your laptop and get agile with Azure!

The Microsoft IT Innovation Series offers free, hands-on opportunities to discover how Azure infrastructure services help you to embrace a wide range of computing solutions in an agile way, enabling you to deploy any workload and any language on nearly any operating system. Find an event near you!

Tackle the top five data challenges with Microsoft SQL Server

Data represents a competitive advantage and provides new market opportunities. At the same time, data growth creates a number of concerns. In this webinar, you’ll learn how to tackle five of the top data challenges that organisations face today. Watch now.

Design and implement cloud data platform solutions

Take a look at this course to learn how to design and implement Microsoft cloud data platform solutions. Explore capabilities and find out about security features, options for high availability, techniques for monitoring and managing cloud data, and much more.

Using Azure Machine Learning to predict who will survive the Titanic

In this session, you’ll learn how to use Azure Machine Learning to make predictions. Technical Evangelist Jennifer Marsman demonstrates how to upload a dataset into Azure Machine Learning Studio, explore the data and decide how to modify it. She’ll also show you how to use data cleaning modules to implement these changes. Then, join us for Part 2, and see how we train a model with a machine-learning algorithm, deploy it and call our published model to get results.

IoT analytics architecture whiteboard

Technical Evangelist David Crook uses a whiteboard to diagram and discuss a very common architecture for Internet of Things (IoT) devices. He addresses some audience questions at the end of the talk. Watch the video.

Cloud cover: Azure Container Service

In this episode, learn about Azure Container Service, beginning with a discussion about what Docker is. Next, we demonstrate running the Hello World container and move on to running 20 web servers in containers in a matter of seconds. This video includes an explanation of Docker Swarm and Apache Mesos, and how they work with the new Azure Container Service.

You may also be interested in learning about Barracuda’s next generation firewall for the cloud, or Azure Resource Manager tooling.

Earn the Microsoft Linux on Azure certification

The Microsoft Linux on Azure certification demonstrates your ability to design, architect, implement and maintain complex cloud-enabled Linux solutions that leverage Azure open-source capabilities. Find out more about the certification, the steps required to achieve it and the training available to help you prepare.

Building your hybrid cloud – nested virtualisation in Windows Server 2016

Continuing the TechNet Radio “Building Your Hybrid Cloud” series, Keith Mayer and Andy Syrewicze walk us through an in-depth description of one of the latest features in Windows Server 2016: nested virtualisation. Find out what it is, why you should use it and how you can use it in your organisation. Watch the video.

Cross-platform mobile app development with Microsoft tools

Microsoft Visual Studio offers a cross-platform approach to building apps, allowing developers to build from a single code base and deploy to any iOS, Android or Windows platform for a native-application look and feel. Learn how Visual Studio works with Xamarin and Apache Cordova; why sharing code and business logic increases productivity; about the benefits of platform-specific IntelliSense; and how Visual Studio employs a holistic or mix-and-match approach to supporting developers. Register now to view on demand!

Behind the scenes: Making the 2016 Iowa Caucus app

The Azure cloud-computing platform played a vital role in storing, managing and reporting election results. Learn how this cross-platform app was developed, from planning to testing and execution. This app helped to more securely and accurately capture more than 90 per cent of the caucus results within just three hours. Watch TechNet Radio.

Harness the power of open source in the public cloud

During this webinar with in-depth demonstrations, you’ll learn what’s available in Azure Marketplace; how to use Azure Resource Manager to simplify complex open-source solutions; what Azure offers to monitor, manage and enhance your Linux experience; how your team can start exploring technologies in the open-source space, such as Docker; how customers are harnessing the power of open source in the cloud; and why customers have chosen Azure. Register now to view on demand.

Exam jump-start 70-534 prerequisites: Architecting Microsoft Azure solutions

Are you interested in becoming certified in architecting Microsoft Azure solutions? If so, join us for this new TechNet Radio three-part series hosted by Technical Evangelists Dan Stolts and Brian Lewis and learn about the prerequisites to becoming Azure certified. Part 1 starts with Azure basics and will help you understand what’s possible with cloud computing, as well as getting you started on your journey to become a cloud architect. Watch the video.

Be Entertained

*Comic source: Reprinted with permission.

Be Inspired

Absolut’s spirited brand rendered in the cloud

In a market flooded with competition, the Absolut brand has always found a way to stand out. Recognised around the world for its iconic bottle and glossy print ads, Absolut has created a distinctively avant-garde image and become one of the best-known names in the spirits industry.

Learn more

Making sense – and smart use – of energy

The electrical grid – and the energy industry that feeds it – grows more complex all the time. In the twentieth century, the electrical grid carried power from a few centralised generators outwards to many users. Today’s grid uses two-way flows of electricity and information to create a network made up of both distributed energy producers and distributed energy consumers.

Learn more

Be Enhanced


Use real-time insights to power mission-critical applications

Elastic provides a software stack for developers to make massive amounts of data available and to utilise real-time insights to power mission-critical applications for search, logging, analytics and more. By focusing on scalability, ease of use and ease of integration, Elastic’s products power many of the world’s leading mobile, social, consumer and business applications.

Visit Marketplace page

Realise your potential with Microsoft and PROS

Intense global competition, unprecedented market volatility and rising costs put pressure on companies to drive both top and bottom-line results. PROS revenue and profit-realisation solutions deliver the perfect blend of simplicity and data science to offer a holistic approach to improving revenue and profit performance, aligning product, demand and availability with exceptional clarity. PROS cloud-based solutions, powered by Azure and Microsoft Dynamics CRM, help leverage prescriptive analytics to accelerate the process of converting prospects into customers; confidently scale winning pricing strategies to increase margins; and streamline smart decision-making so that organisations can realise their true revenue and profit potential.

Watch video | Visit

Azure Marketplace

Featured: Managing the complete application life cycle

OutSystems provides one of the world’s leading Rapid Application Delivery (RAD) platforms for the enterprise. It is a fast and comprehensive way to create, deploy, change and manage custom mobile and web applications, delivered seamlessly across all devices. Available as a cloud or on-premises solution, OutSystems manages the complete application life cycle of large portfolios.

Visit Marketplace page

New: Taking the complexity and guesswork out of integration

With standards-based connectivity options, simplified application connectors and a fully scalable elastic cloud platform, the Jitterbit Harmony integration platform is fast and easy to design, deploy and manage. Jitterbit helps enable integrations across common scenarios, such as data integration, process integration and real-time API management.

Visit Marketplace page

Editor's Note


Spring has arrived in Redmond, Washington! As you can see in the Be Informed section, the Azure team is busy releasing new services and features. In addition, we’ve used your feedback to improve the web version of our newsletter. Take a look and let us know what you think! Also, keep submitting those customer stories – the February customer story was one of the top clicks. Thank you, Ohad, for submitting your story!