Azure Newsletter: February 2017

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.

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Featured customer-submitted story: BARBRI

“After piloting Azure for over a year, we made the decision to begin migrating our production servers to Azure leading to the eventual closure of our two colocation data centres. My initial estimates show that we will save in excess of USD 1.2 million annually, as we are a seasonal business and Azure will give us the ability to downsize during the slow periods. We expect to complete the migration process in the coming year.”

– Mark Kaplan, Director IT, Barbri


Develop in the cloud with best-in-industry protection against IP risks

We’re committed to fostering a community and a business environment that values and helps protect your investments in the cloud – that’s why we’re announcing Microsoft Azure IP Advantage. Azure IP Advantage provides the industry’s most comprehensive protection against intellectual property (IP) risks with uncapped indemnification and offers access to a portfolio of thousands of Microsoft patents. With Azure IP Advantage, developers can focus on writing code without worrying about lawsuits. Learn more in this video from Brad Smith, President and Chief Legal Officer of Microsoft or visit our website.

Upcoming events

Find Azure-related events

Free report: Open Source Powers Enterprise Digital Transformation

Here’s a resource to help you encourage your organisation to adopt open-source technologies. In the report, Open Source Powers Enterprise Digital Transformation, Forrester explores how enterprises are including open-source technologies as part of their broader business strategy. The report covers the benefits of open source in collaboration, efficiency, innovation and talent retention.

Announcing a new Azure Marketplace experience

In the newly redesigned Azure Marketplace experience, you can now find and deploy a product with a single click; discover products using predictive search, category filters and top recommendations; deep dive into products using technical documentation, pricing information and publisher recommendations; and get hands-on experience using Test Drive. Learn more from the Azure Blog.

Be informed

Introducing Service Map for dependency-aware monitoring, troubleshooting and workload migrations

Service Map, a new solution in Microsoft Operations Management Suite Insight & Analytics, discovers and maps server and process dependencies in real time, to help you eliminate the guesswork of problem isolation; identify connections and broken links in your environment; and perform Azure migrations without leaving critical systems behind. The Service Map public preview supports any TCP-connected process in Windows and Linux guests, in any cloud and on-premises. Watch now.

Azure DocumentDB: Xamarin support and IP filtering

Azure DocumentDB announces a few service and client SDK updates. DocumentDB supports policy-driven IP-based access controls for inbound firewall support. The latest release of the DocumentDB .NET Core SDK is fully Xamarin compatible and can be used to build applications that target iOS, Android and Mono (Linux).

Azure DocumentDB partitioned collection: Minimum throughput levels lowered by 75 per cent

You can now create Azure DocumentDB partitioned collections with throughput levels as low as 2,500 request units (RUs). This change means that customers who want to utilise the scale of DocumentDB partitioned collections can now get started at a cost that is 75 per cent lower than the previous minimum provisioned throughput of 10,000 RUs. Learn more.

Azure DocumentDB: ODBC driver generally available

The Azure DocumentDB ODBC driver is now generally available, so you can renormalise data in DocumentDB, analyse it and create reports using BI and analytics solutions such as Microsoft Power BI and Tableau.

Azure DocumentDB: S1, S2 and S3 performance levels to retire

On 1 August 2017, the S1, S2 and S3 performance levels in Azure DocumentDB will be retired. Customers can continue using these performance levels through the Azure portal or APIs until 1 August 2017. Beyond that date, each collection that uses the S1, S2 and S3 performance levels will be moved to a single partition collection with equivalent throughput, without any downtime. Post-migration, customers will pay single partition collection prices.

New Azure Virtual Machine Scale Sets features generally available

Several new Azure Virtual Machine Scale Sets features are generally available, bringing enhanced scale, better application support and easier manageability to the platform.

Azure Functions Proxies in public preview

Azure Functions Proxies enables developers to easily create function proxies. Developers can now create a single API definition for multiple function apps and back-end services. This feature lets developers decouple the app-facing API from their back-end services, thus shielding apps from any back-end code changes. Learn more.

Azure CLI 2.0 is now generally available

Azure CLI 2.0 Compute, Storage and Network commands are now generally available, with more on the way. It’s easy to install on the platform of your choice, it’s idiomatic and native to the Bash environment, and supports tab completion and pipeable outputs for interacting with popular Linux command-line tools, such as grep, cut and jq. Check out CLI on GitHub, see our documentation and samples, and give us feedback.

Azure Network Watcher in public preview

Azure Network Watcher enables you to monitor and diagnose conditions at a network-scenario level using the network diagnostic and visualisation tools provided by the service. You can also remotely capture network traffic on a virtual machine using packet capture; gain insight into your network traffic using flow logs; and diagnose VPN connectivity issues. Plus, it integrates with existing Azure services. Learn more about Network Watcher capabilities on the Azure Blog.

Azure Analysis Services in public preview in additional regions

Azure Analysis Services is available in public preview in two additional regions: North Central US and Brazil South, joining Southeast Asia, North Europe, West Europe, West US, South Central US, East US 2 and West Central US. Built on the proven analytics engine in Microsoft SQL Server Analysis Services, Analysis Services lets you host semantic data models in the cloud, so users in your organisation can then connect to your data models using tools like Excel, Power BI and others to create reports and perform ad hoc data analysis. Learn more.

Azure Analysis Services programmability and automation

Azure Friday’s Scott Hanselman learns about the rich programmability APIs and automation opportunities in Azure Analysis Services built on the proven analytics engine in Microsoft SQL Server Analysis Services. Watch now.

Azure HDInsight available in additional regions

Azure HDInsight for Linux is now available in Canada East, Canada Central, West Central US, Germany Central, Germany Northeast and Brazil South regions. HDInsight is a fully managed cloud Hadoop offering that provides open-source analytic clusters for Spark, Hive, MapReduce, HBase, Storm, Kafka and R Server backed by a 99.9 per cent service-level agreement (SLA).

Microsoft Cognitive Services: Custom Speech Service in public preview

Custom Speech Service (previously named CRIS), part of Microsoft Cognitive Services, is now available as a public preview service in the Azure portal. Custom Speech Service can overcome speech recognition barriers such as speaking style, background noise and vocabulary.

Managed Disks for Azure Storage generally available

Managed Disks for Azure Storage is generally available in most Azure regions, with more regions being added soon. With Managed Disks, customers only need to specify the desired disk type (Standard or Premium disk) and disk size, then Azure will create and manage the disk for them. For more information, visit the Azure Blog and this documentation web page.

Larger block blobs generally available in Azure Storage

With larger block blobs now generally available, the maximum file size has been increased from 195 GB to 4.77 TB. You can immediately begin taking advantage of this improvement in any existing Azure Blob storage or general-purpose storage account across all Azure regions. For more information, please visit the Azure Blog.

Storage Service Encryption for Azure File storage in public preview

When you enable Storage Service Encryption for Azure File storage, your data is automatically encrypted for you. This enables IT organisations that want to lift and shift their on-premises file shares to the cloud using Azure Files to protect their data at rest using industry standard 256-bit AES encryption. Learn more from the Azure Blog.

Azure Search now available in UK South

With Azure Search available in the UK South region, Azure Search is now available in all public geographies. It’s currently available in the following regions: Australia East, Brazil South, Canada Central, Central India, East Asia, East US, Japan West, North Central US, North Europe, South Central US, Southeast Asia, West Central US, West Europe and West US.

Simpler Azure Management Libraries for .NET and Java

Beta 5 of the simplified Azure Management Libraries for .NET and Java is available. These libraries improve developer experience by providing a higher-level, object-oriented API. For .NET, it’s only one C# statement to authenticate; for Java, it’s one statement to authenticate. For either .NET or Java, it’s one statement to create a virtual machine or modify an existing virtual network, and more. See plenty of ready-to-run sample code for .NET and Java that illustrates management scenarios (more than 50 end-to-end scenarios). Give it a try and send us your feedback for .NET or Java.

Azure now available from local data centres in Korea

The new Azure from local data centres in Korea (Korea Central [Seoul] and Korea South [Busan]) combines the most complete, intelligent cloud with local data residency for speed and performance. This trusted cloud includes replication of data in multiple regions across Korea, giving customers reliable data protection for business continuity in both pure cloud and hybrid scenarios. And with 38 cloud regions globally, organisations in Korea can easily bring their apps closer to their customers around the world. Learn more.

Be empowered

Join us for the complimentary Azure Marketplace virtual lab series

Are you interested in partner solutions such as Veeam, Mesosphere, Red Hat or Barracuda, but aren’t sure how to get started? Join us for a complimentary virtual lab. The Azure Marketplace virtual lab series covers how to deploy these apps directly to Azure in 45 minutes or less through a hands-on demo. Register now.

Create a path to career advancement

Increase your cloud knowledge with Pluralsight and Microsoft Virtual Academy training courses when you join Microsoft IT Pro Cloud Essentials. Joining is free and provides IT implementers with hands-on experience so they can succeed. Join now.

Cloud is driving next-generation IT skills

Cloud computing requires new IT skills. IT professionals will need to consider the impact of IT trends and focus on developing skills that will be critically important in the near future. Learn more from IDC in the Market Spotlight video. Watch now.

Build your cloud and infrastructure skills at Microsoft Tech Summit

Attend a free, two-day technical training event with top Microsoft engineers. Discover how Microsoft’s enterprise solutions can help you be more successful and productive, and add value to your organisation. Take advantage of more than 70 training sessions, hands-on labs and expert access. Find an event near you, or save the date to watch a keynote livestream. Don’t miss out!

Azure Developer Workshop

Watch here for a practical, hands-on introduction to Azure for developers. Expert instructors Susan Ibach of Microsoft and Jeff Prosise from Wintellect fill you in on the details you need on Azure Storage, Stream Analytics, Machine Learning, Microsoft Cognitive Services, containers, Docker and much more.

Cloud Cover: Azure Analysis Services

In this episode, learn about Azure Analysis Services, now available as a fully managed service in Azure. It helps you manage data modelling and create BI solutions from tabular data in the cloud or on-premises.

Case study: Data analytics and smart buildings increase comfort and energy efficiency

Smart-energy buildings at Microsoft have improved energy efficiency by 15 per cent. But there’s so much more to it. Using energy-smart building software and tools, the company can proactively monitor climate to keep employees comfortable and productive, identify energy-saving opportunities, prioritise maintenance work and reduce operational costs – all while reducing its environmental footprint. Read more on IT Showcase.

Digital transformation and the Internet of Things

In this on-demand webinar, learn about the business value Internet of Things (IoT) technologies bring to companies of all sizes across industries by connecting people, assets, processes and systems. This webinar covers the benefits you can expect from an IoT solution, real-world use cases across several industries, best practices, how to get started and how to navigate the stages of a solution to maximise value.

Case study: Using IoT devices and data analytics to create a safer workplace at Microsoft

Security cameras, alarms, panic buttons, access control systems – failure of any of these “smart” security devices at Microsoft is not an option. Using System Center, a first-of-its-kind solution, the company protects its workers and assets by proactively managing 25,000 Internet of Things (IoT) security devices across more than 800 buildings. Read more on IT Showcase.

What organisations need to succeed

Where do organisations start in digital transformation, and if your organisation has already started, how do you move faster and further ahead? In this webinar, Ray Wang, Principal Analyst, Founder and Chairman of Constellation Research, as well as author of Disrupting Digital Business explains why digital transformation must be every organisation’s immediate focus and imperative. We’ll also reveal keys to transformational success, including the roles of company culture, data-driven decision-making and innovative technology. Register to view on demand.

Case study: Optimising resource efficiency in Azure

When it works at Microsoft, we feel confident it will work for our customers. And using Azure to optimise cloud usage and save money worked for us. Read more on IT Showcase.

ASP.NET Core 1.0 cross-platform

If you are ready to build and deploy ASP.NET Core 1.0 apps on Mac or Linux, you’ll want to watch this course! Our team of experts show you how. You’ll get the basics of ASP.NET Core and find out what tools are available on Mac and Linux before exploring more advanced topics, including deploying on a Linux server, getting started with containers and Docker, and much more. View the course.

Maximising your mobile budget: Planning for long-term ROI

Many businesses struggle to answer a simple question: “How much should my mobile apps cost?” Without a solid answer, dev teams often make planning decisions in the dark, wondering if they’ve spent too much or are getting blindsided by unexpected costs. Learn how to project accurate costs for the lifetime of an app, use best practices to predict and help control mobile dev and maintenance costs, map business goals to technology decisions, and choose a development platform that will provide the best long-term ROI. Register for this webinar.

DevOps webinar: Shipping five-star apps with mobile DevOps

Register for this on-demand webinar to learn how to improve your apps with mobile DevOps processes and continuous integration; automate app testing and debugging on more than 2,000 real devices and 400 configurations; and continuously distribute your apps, collect feedback, and release updates and new features.

ESG: Why the cloud should be part of your data protection strategy

Read this white paper from ESG to see how IT leaders and their organisations are handling their changing data protection needs, and get insight into choosing a cloud backup solution. Download the free report.

The new post-breach approach to endpoint security

In this on-demand webinar, learn how Windows Defender can help you better detect, investigate and respond to threats lurking in and around your network. The best way to thwart a breach is to assume a breach. A new post-breach security solution approach is required. Are you protected? In this webinar, we discuss why having a post-breach approach is necessary, how Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection provides post-breach support, and how to start a trial of Windows Defender ATP for your organisation.

Revolutionise your app business with Microsoft SQL Server 2016

Learn how Microsoft SQL Server solutions are built to adapt, so you can build differentiated, intelligent apps that will delight your customers. Learn about the latest updates to SQL Server with SQL Server 2016 SP1 and SQL Server vNext; how SQL Server 2016 can help you add intelligence to your apps to make your offerings more competitive; and about our SQL Server 2016 Accelerator programme that offers real-world advice from our technical experts. Find out how you can get access to technical and go-to-market resources to upgrade or migrate your applications to SQL Server 2016.

Microsoft SQL Server on Linux: World-class RDBMS, open-source enterprise environment

Today’s IT organisations must contend with multiple data types and many development languages; work within a mix of on-premises, cloud and hybrid environments; and reduce operational costs. In this on-demand webinar, learn how to choose the best platform for your data and applications. Microsoft SQL Server is bringing its world-class relational database management system (RDBMS) to open-source enterprise ecosystems with SQL Server on Linux. Learn what’s next for SQL Server on Linux and how to determine which SQL Server edition to deploy.

See why Microsoft Enterprise Mobility + Security is loved by users and trusted by IT

Join us for a Microsoft Enterprise Mobility + Security overview. Digital transformation is changing how companies work every day, and this can introduce new security challenges. Enterprise Mobility + Security can help your people stay productive while you keep your company information safer as you embrace mobility and the cloud.

Be entertained

*Comic source: Reprinted with permission.

Be inspired


Fujitsu earns customers’ trust by anticipating cloud needs

Fujitsu Australia and New Zealand is a leading managed services provider. Thousands of organisations, both commercial and government, depend on it to reliably run and manage their critical business applications in the cloud. Fujitsu uses Microsoft Operations Management Suite as a predictive analytics tool to monitor and forecast Azure capacity needs for each customer, so critical applications can run cost-effectively and without interruption.

Learn more

Lobster Ink

Training company takes on the world from the cloud

Lobster Ink provides online training for thousands of hotels around the world, with high-quality, consistent, compelling training on everything from how to make a bed to how to make a Bloody Mary cocktail. Lobster Ink rewrote its entire learning platform for cloud delivery using Azure platform services. Now, the Lobster Ink training platform can scale to millions of simultaneous learners from all over the world.

Learn more

Be enhanced



Unlock cloud’s agility by automating secured connectivity to Azure with SD-WAN

Riverbed SteelConnect automates orchestration of secured connectivity into and between Azure networks. Software-defined control via policy-based management helps ensure that security and performance persist from the mobile or static user to the app server, regardless of network health. With Azure providing agility, efficiency and security, SteelConnect is the natural next step for agility, efficiency, performance and security for your network.

Visit Marketplace page

Azure Marketplace


Featured: Esri chooses Azure and Mesosphere DC/OS to build real-time, predictive mapping

Learn how geospatial intelligence leader Esri built a 21st-century mapping solution while slashing operational costs, reducing complexity and accelerating time to market, all while providing customers with unprecedented performance and scalability. Esri’s infrastructure is powered by the Azure cloud, Azure Container Service and Mesosphere DC/OS. Read how Esri’s real-time and big data deployments were reduced from weeks to minutes.

Visit Marketplace page


Featured: Simplify Windows 10 on Azure deployments with Citrix XenDesktop Essentials Service

XenDesktop Essentials simplifies Windows 10 migration, expedites desktop deployment and streamlines ongoing management at scale while delivering a rich user access experience from any device. As the first Citrix Cloud service to be available exclusively in Azure Marketplace, Citrix and Microsoft deliver a single interface for configuring and managing the new XenDesktop Essentials Service and the associated Azure infrastructure, side by side. See how XenDesktop Essentials can simplify your Windows 10 migration on Azure.

Visit Marketplace page

Editor’s note


It’s always exciting to hear about the different industries that use Azure to help inform decision-making processes. In January, I read a blog post about a company that’s developing apps to help farmers, and they’re using Azure IoT Suite and the Azure cloud platform to help provide data-based predictions. And this is just the start. Read more – maybe you’ll come away inspired to create an app that will help your industry work out new efficiencies!