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Azure Newsletter: November 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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Customer-submitted story: Sagitto

"Sagitto combines field-portable spectroscopy and machine learning to help companies measure processes rapidly and cost-effectively. We build predictive models for our customers using Azure Machine Learning. These models are tailored to our customers’ apps, and they’re securely stored within the Azure cloud platform. Azure allows our customers to retain ownership of their data and the models built from it, with the assurance of all day, every day access."

Free e-book download: Enterprise Cloud Strategy

In the second edition of the Enterprise Cloud Strategy e-book, we’ve taken the essential information for how to establish a strategy and execute your enterprise cloud migration and put it all in one place. This valuable resource for IT and business leaders provides a comprehensive look at moving to the cloud, as well as specific guidance on topics like prioritising app migration, working with stakeholders, and cloud architectural blueprints. Download now.


New: Learn cloud skills with Azure Essentials

Meet Julia White, Corporate Vice President, Azure Marketing – she introduces Microsoft Azure Essentials, a free resource for IT professionals and developers who want to quickly learn new skills with Azure. With just three short steps – watch, learn and try – you’ll get started on the path to deep Azure knowledge. Watch now.

Visual Studio App Center now generally available

Automate the life cycle of your iOS, Android, Windows and macOS apps. Connect your repository and – within minutes – build in the cloud, test on thousands of real devices, distribute to beta testers and app stores, and monitor real-world usage with crash and analytics data. All in one place. Our free tier helps you get started for free and only pay as your app grows. Learn more.


Announcing Innovate.AI: A global startup competition

Are you an early-stage company using artificial intelligence (AI) and/or machine learning and looking for funding? Microsoft Ventures is hosting Innovate.AI, a global competition with a total prize pool worth $5.5 million US dollars (USD) for startups in North America, Europe and Israel. One innovative company from each region will win a $1 million USD investment from Microsoft Ventures and participating venture capitalist partners, and $500000 USD in Azure credits. Applications are open now until 31 December 2017.

Upcoming events

Microsoft Tech Summit Tel Aviv
29 November 2017
Tel Aviv, Israel
The AI Summit
5 December 2017
New York, New York
KubeCon + CloudNativeCon
6 December 2017
Austin, Texas
Microsoft Tech Summit Toronto
13 December 2017
Toronto, Canada
NRF 2018
14 January 2018
New York, New York
Mobile World Congress
26 February 2018
Barcelona, Spain

Be Informed

Watch on-demand content from Microsoft Connect(); 2017

Whether you’re creating cloud-native applications, infusing your apps with artificial intelligence (AI), or just getting started, on-demand content from Microsoft Connect(); 2017 will inspire you to build the apps of the future. Join our Cloud Chief, Scott Guthrie, and top developer minds for the latest in open source technologies, Azure, data, AI, DevOps, Visual Studio, Xamarin and cross-platform applications.

Accelerate your journey to the cloud

Reduce the complexity of your cloud migration by using a single comprehensive service instead of multiple tools. Now in preview, Azure Database Migration Service is designed as a seamless, end-to-end solution for moving on-premises Microsoft SQL Server, Oracle and other relational databases to the cloud. The service supports migrations of homogeneous/heterogeneous source-target pairs, and the guided migration process is easy to understand and implement. Learn more.

Microsoft SQL Operations Studio now in preview

Microsoft SQL Operations Studio offers a modern, keyboard-focused T-SQL code experience with built-in features such as multiple tab windows, a rich T-SQL editor, IntelliSense, keyword completion, code snippets and code navigation, and source control integration. You can execute ad hoc SQL queries; view and save results as text, JSON or an Excel file; and edit data, organise your favourite database connections and browse database objects in a familiar object browsing experience. This feature is available for download at no cost to you and runs on Windows, Linux and macOS.

Azure Cosmos DB: 99.999 per cent read availability at global scale

We’ve been making continuous improvements to our stack, and now even stronger service-level agreements (SLAs) are available for Azure Cosmos DB. Databases spanning multiple regions will now have 99.999 per cent read availability. Learn more.

AI-powered Azure SQL Database Automatic tuning is being rolled out as a new default

Automatic tuning in Azure SQL Database leverages the power of artificial intelligence (AI) to provide stable and peak performing databases at a large scale through continuous monitoring, identifying and applying tuning actions in a safe and managed fashion. This mature capability consists of automated index management and plan regression correction and is being rolled out as a new default via an Automatic tuning on-by-default journey.

Azure Cosmos DB Apache® Cassandra API now in preview

The Apache® Cassandra API preview is now available on Azure Cosmos DB. This API allows developers who are familiar with Cassandra and using its SDKs and tools to “lift and shift” existing apps and/or build new apps using the Cassandra API against a globally distributed, multi-model database service designed to scale throughput and storage across any number of geographical regions with comprehensive service-level agreements (SLAs). Sign up today to get access to the Apache® Cassandra API.

Spark connector for Azure Cosmos DB generally available

Spark connector for Azure Cosmos DB enables real-time data science, machine learning, advanced analytics and exploration over globally distributed data in Azure Cosmos DB by connecting it to Apache Spark. The connector efficiently exploits the native Azure Cosmos DB-managed indexes and enables updateable columns when performing analytics. It also utilises push-down predicate filtering against fast-changing globally distributed data addressing a diverse set of Internet of Things (IoT), data science and analytics scenarios. Spark-structured stream support using Azure Cosmos DB change feed, query performance improvements, and support for the latest Spark version are also included.

Azure Cosmos DB Table API generally available

Azure Cosmos DB Table API is now generally available in all Azure regions. With Azure Cosmos DB Table API support, applications written for Azure table storage can now leverage the premium capabilities of Azure Cosmos DB, including turnkey global distribution, low latency reads/writes, automatic secondary indexing, dedicated throughput and much more. Azure Cosmos DB Table API support is accessible through the Azure portal.

Aggregation pipeline preview and Unique Indexes for Azure Cosmos DB MongoDB API

Now in preview, Aggregation pipeline support lets Azure Cosmos DB developers using the MongoDB API perform data manipulation in multi-stage pipelines even within a single query. This enables streamlined development of more sophisticated apps. Aggregation pipeline can be turned on in the Azure portal. Also, the Unique Index capability is now generally available and introduces the uniqueness constraint on any document fields that are already auto-indexed in Azure Cosmos DB. Azure Cosmos DB now implements MongoDB 3.4 wire protocol, allowing the use of tools and apps relying on the MongoDB API.

New VM images: SQL Server 2017 on Linux and Windows

SQL Server 2017 images on Linux and Windows are now available in Azure Marketplace. SQL Server 2017 is the first release available on Linux, giving you the choice of running SQL Server on virtual machines (VMs) based on Windows, Red Hat Enterprise Linux, SUSE or Ubuntu. SQL Server 2017 also provides new capabilities, including graph data support, adaptive query processing, and built-in Python and R analytics. Find out more at the Azure Blog and by watching the Getting Started Video.


Azure Reserved Virtual Machine Instances now available

Azure Reserved Virtual Machine Instances let you reserve virtual machines (VMs) to prioritise workloads when and where you need them most. With up to 72 per cent cost savings over Pay-as-you-go pricing, these reserved instances improve budgeting and forecasting because they are purchased in 1 and 3-year terms with a single upfront payment. Purchasing is easy – you select just three items: region, VM series and term. If you decide at any time during the term that you need to exchange or cancel reservations, that’s easy, too. What’s more, Windows Server customers can save up to 82 per cent with the Azure Hybrid Benefit.

Introducing AZ extension

Extend Azure CLI by adding new or overriding existing commands from an external package. Build on top of existing functionality with ease. Dev teams can now own code bases, tooling and other resources to produce new features for Azure CLI. Learn more.

P15 tier now available for Azure Managed Disks

Now available in all Azure regions, P15 disks are 256 GB Premium managed disks that provide 1,100 input/output operations per second (IOPS) and a throughput of 125 MB per second. Learn more on the Managed Disks pricing webpage.

New in Azure Functions: Introducing support for Java and building stateful serverless apps

The series of innovations in Azure Functions continues with more new features. Support for Java extends serverless benefits to Java developers. Additionally, we’ve added support for building more complex serverless scenarios including stateful orchestration, as well as custom bindings. Learn more and try the five-minute quickstarts for Azure Functions.

Preview available for Azure Container Service (AKS)-managed Kubernetes and geo-replication in Azure Container Registry

Azure Container Service (AKS) simplifies the deployment, management and operations of Kubernetes by providing a fully managed Kubernetes container orchestrator service. It eliminates the complicated planning and deployment of fully orchestrated containerised applications while avoiding being locked into any one vendor or resource. AKS-managed features are free – users only pay for cloud consumption. Geo-replication lets Azure Container Registry function as a single registry while being available for local operations in the replicated regions. As images are used across many Azure services, you can benefit from a single management plane while maintaining network-close, fast and reliable image pulls. Learn more.

Azure Friday: Azure Container Registry geo-replication

Azure Friday’s Donovan Brown learns about Azure Container Registry geo-replication. With it, you can now manage your global Azure footprint as one resource, enabling network-close deployments of your Docker containers. With regionalised WebHooks, you can deploy regions as your images arrive. Watch now.

Azure cool blob storage promotion ending soon – sign up now

Customers with a Microsoft Enterprise Agreement (EA) are eligible to receive significant discounts when committing to purchase and consume specified amounts of Azure cool blob storage. Cool blob storage is a cost-effective option for storage of infrequently accessed data. This cool blob storage promotion for EA customers will end on 31 December 2017.

Microsoft Translator adds Tamil as a new text translation language

Microsoft Translator announces the launch of their latest text translation language – Tamil – available in the Microsoft Translator API, a member of the Microsoft Cognitive Services collection. As a new or existing Translator Text API customer, businesses can now integrate Tamil translations across apps, desktop, and web apps. Tamil is one of more than 60 text translation languages supported through the API. Learn more about text translation capabilities in Microsoft Translator.

Azure Time Series Insights now generally available

Azure Time Series Insights is a managed analytics and visualisation service that democratises the Internet of Things (IoT) by making it simple to explore and analyse your IoT time series data. It lets you quickly validate your IoT solution and avoid downtime to mission-critical devices by helping you discover hidden trends, spot anomalies and conduct root-cause analyses in near real time. It also offers up to 400 days of real-time analytics and storage of time series data, helping organisations to spot and understand longer-term trends in their IoT data.

Azure IoT Edge now in preview

Make hybrid cloud and edge Internet of Things (IoT) solutions a reality with Azure IoT Edge, a service that delivers cloud analytics capabilities to the edge. IoT Edge provides easy orchestration between code and services, so they flow securely between cloud and edge to distribute intelligence across IoT devices. It enables artificial intelligence and advanced analytics at the edge. IoT Edge is also cross-platform, running on both Windows and Linux, and on devices even smaller than a Raspberry Pi with as little as 128 MB of memory.

Announcing the preview of Azure Stream Analytics on edge devices

This new Azure Stream Analytics feature extends the benefits of this unique streaming technology from the cloud down to the device level. Stream Analytics on edge devices has the same unified cloud-managed experience for stream analytics running across edge devices and the cloud. This approach lets organisations use streaming analytics in scenarios where connectivity to the cloud is limited or inconsistent, but the need for quick insight and proactive actions are essential to run the business.

Adobe and Microsoft integrated sales and marketing solution demos now available in Microsoft Technology Centers

Adobe and Microsoft deliver the most advanced sales and marketing capabilities to help companies digitally transform and engage customers in new ways. They break down data silos with the Common Data Model to create real-time personalised customer touchpoints. They also engage customers with rich, intelligent personalisation from the entry point of a customer journey – from anonymous to advocacy. There’s seamless integration of Adobe Experience Cloud, Dynamics 365, Azure, Office 365 and Power BI. To request a demo, please contact your Microsoft Account executive or visit the Microsoft Dynamics 365 website.


Now open: IT Skills and Salary Survey

Global Knowledge has opened its 11th annual IT Skills and Salary Survey, the largest of its kind in the industry, and you are invited to participate. All contributions are confidential and will shed insight into industry salaries, in-demand certifications, skill gaps and the existing career landscape. The survey results help to generate an annual report used by industry insiders, hiring managers and IT professionals. Participants can opt in to receive the report when it’s ready later in 2018. Take the survey before it closes on 1 December 2017.

Be empowered

Expedition Cloud: Cloud strategy with Mel Lowe

When you have decades’ worth of data to move to the cloud, where do you start? Do you “lift and shift” existing applications, or rebuild and optimise them in the cloud? What’s the most efficient way to transition to cloud technology, and what’s the right order of operations? When on the verge of moving nearly all Microsoft operations to the cloud, our pros had these questions – and more. Watch the video.

Build your cloud skills with the latest in Azure and Microsoft 365 at Microsoft Tech Summit

Attend a free technical learning event for IT pros and developers brought to you by the experts who build and run our cloud services. Whether you’re developing innovative apps or delivering optimised solutions, Microsoft Tech Summit can help evolve your skills, deepen your expertise and develop your career. Customise your learning with more than 70 sessions, keynotes, hands-on labs and more. Find a free event near you.


Get trained and certified on Azure

Learning cloud skills with Azure helps set your career on the path to success. Whether you’re an IT professional or a developer, you can open up career possibilities and expand job opportunities. You can learn role-based skills with short, online learning paths that are accessible at any time. Get advanced skills through in-depth instructor-led or online courses with Microsoft learning partners. Then validate your expertise with Azure skill exams. Get started today.

Course: Experience the Microsoft cloud with Cloud Adoption Test Lab Guides

For IT professionals and developers who want to learn how to simplify the move to cloud-based services and workloads, this course offers in-depth and practical guidance. Learn how to use Cloud Adoption Test Lab Guides to get hands on with Microsoft Cloud technologies, including Office 365, Enterprise Mobility + Security, and Dynamics 365. Watch now.

Watch on demand now: Microsoft Azure OpenDev

Learn how to build an open source DevOps pipeline and bring an enterprise app to the cloud at this virtual community-focused event. Follow the journey of an enterprise app moving to the Azure cloud, beginning with development and version control through Git; then moving to continuous integration and deployment, all the way through monitoring. Watch now and see what’s possible with open source.


Course: Managing Identity

This free, self-paced security course explores the latest ways to manage identity. You’ll learn practical steps and guidance on identity management, based on real-world experience provided by the Microsoft Incidence Response teams. With videos, text and hosted labs, you’ll have the opportunity to get hands on as you explore Active Directory best practices and learn how to secure Azure Active Directory. Enrol now and get started on implementing and managing identity as part of your cybersecurity defence plan.

Course: Cloud Application Development

Find out how cloud app development can help solve business problems as our expert MVP instructors guide you through the subject. They’ll explore data services provided by Azure, show you how Azure can help increase developer productivity in a tool-agnostic way, and how to build cross-platform mobile apps. There are lots of demos in this practical cloud app development tutorial. Watch now.

Course: SharePoint Automation with DSC

Learn what PowerShell Desired State Configuration (DSC) is and how you can use it to build SharePoint farms and reverse-engineer existing SharePoint farms. See DSC in action, review best practices and guidance, and get an overview of Azure Automation with DSC to support implementation of SharePoint solutions for your organisation. Watch this free on-demand course.

Course: Data Series: Analytics: AA: Machine Learning

Watch this free, on-demand course for a look at the primary Microsoft advanced analytics tools, including Azure Machine Learning, which examines large amounts of data for patterns, and then generates code that lets you recognise those patterns in new data so your apps can make better predictions. Plus, learn about Azure Data Factory, SQL Server 2016 R Services and Cortana Intelligence Suite. View the course.

Be entertained

*Comic source: Reprinted with permission.

Be inspired

Startup Arena moves to Azure App Service to optimise their build deployment

Arena – a TechStars Chicago 2016 startup – created a messaging app for sports fans to watch videos and discuss live events in real time. Arena’s initial build process on AWS Elastic Beanstalk required devs to do low-value, repetitive, manual tasks several times a day to prepare and deploy their app. The solution? Streamline Arena’s deployment process to staging and production using Azure App Service.

Learn more

Be Enhanced: Partners

Tableau and Microsoft enable flexibility for modernising your data estate

Tableau integrates seamlessly with Azure to modernise data platforms. This lets you gain deeper insights across all your data, when and where you need it, with confidence that your data is trusted, and your platform is flexible, secure, easy to manage and cost effective. You can connect to Azure services like Spark on Azure HDInsight, Azure SQL Data Warehouse and Azure SQL Database. Tableau Server can be hosted in Azure or locally. Get Tableau running in Azure in a few clicks through preconfigured images in Azure Marketplace.

Learn more

Finastra and Microsoft bring corporate banking and payments solutions to the cloud

Finastra and Microsoft have formed a strategic partnership to deliver Finastra’s corporate banking and next-generation payments solutions via Azure. The partnership builds on the proven collaboration in releasing Finastra’s cloud-based lending oversight solution in 2016. Building on that success, the partnership has expanded to include a suite of banking solutions, from payments to cash management and supply chain finance.

Learn more

Azure Marketplace

Featured: Simply exceptional protection for Azure apps from PT Application Firewall

PT Application Firewall extends effortless, exceptional protection to Azure-based apps and the data they hold. With fast and smooth deployment, your apps get proactive defence against emerging and 0-day threats. PT Application Firewall’s unique P-Code module offers targeted protection for the specific flaws in your source code. It automatically detects vulnerabilities and generates instant virtual patches that prevent attacks while you fix the code.

Visit Marketplace page

Featured: Protect your data in the Azure cloud with Cohesity

Find out how you can extend Cohesity’s on-premises data protection capabilities to the Azure cloud. With Cohesity and Azure you can support use cases including data protection, long-term archival, test/dev and disaster recovery.

Visit Marketplace page

New: CIS hardened images configured to CIS benchmarks available in Azure Marketplace

CIS is a non-profit entity focused on developing global standards and recognised best practices for securing IT systems. Hardened images are virtual machine (VM) images configured to be more resilient to cyberattacks. These images are available in Azure Marketplace and can be used by customers to create new, securely configured VMs. CIS is working to release additional hardened images, so check Marketplace for new updates.

Visit Marketplace page

Test Drive: Build, deploy and manage with Chef Automate, the continuous automation platform

The official Chef Automate with Chef server Azure Marketplace solution template lets you build, deploy and manage your infrastructure and apps collaboratively. With one click, you get instant access to all commercial features included with Chef Automate, gain end-to-end visibility across your entire fleet, enable continuous compliance, and manage all change with a unified workflow. Test-drive Chef Automate for 30 days for free.

Visit Marketplace page

Editor's note


I’m glad you’ve joined us for another news-packed edition of our newsletter. I want to share a couple of my favourite webpages, which I hope will help you keep track of our products and how to use them. First, take a look at our Azure products webpage for a comprehensive list of our services. If you then need to find out more about some of these services and have a preferred learning style, the Azure resources webpage has them organised by type of resource such as videos, webinars and white papers.