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  • 7 min read

Achieving business resilience with cloud application development

When it comes to how people want to engage with organizations advancements in real-time—multichannel communication have raised expectations. Restrictions on physical interactions due to current events are accelerating adoption of remote, cloud-based solutions for customer engagement.

Over the last six months, organizations of all shapes and sizes have had to suddenly pivot to serve customers, employees, and partners exclusively via digital channels. In this uncertain business environment, we have seen resilient organizations adapt in three dimensions: by supporting remote application development; improving business agility with a focus on Developer Velocity; and by driving cost savings. At Microsoft Ignite, we've shared new capabilities that enable developers and the teams they support to become more resilient with Microsoft Visual Studio, GitHub, Microsoft Azure, and Microsoft Power Apps.

Creating resilient development teams with remote development

At Build, we shared innovation in our developer tools and services that allow development teams to code, collaborate, and ship software from anywhere. Since then, we have seen how our customers have used these tools to adapt. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has moved their development process to the cloud using Visual Studio and Azure, and in doing so have made their developer team twice as productive as before. We’ve also shared our own stories about how development teams at Microsoft have met the challenge of shifting to remote work.  

In order to help developers meet today’s challenges, we’ve focused on making Visual Studio and Visual Studio Code the most productive developer tools for distributed development teams. Both have strong integration with GitHub, where over 50 million developers code together. With GitHub Codespaces, developers can create cloud-powered development environments right from Visual Studio and Visual Studio Code. The release of Visual Studio 2019 16.8 Preview 3.1 includes support for the GitHub Codespaces beta. Learn more about what's in the latest release so you can code in your own cloud-hosted dev box.

GitHub Codespaces integration with Visual Studio

In a remote context, development teams need to be able to communicate and collaborate in ways that are intuitive and natural. With Visual Studio and GitHub, developers can collaborate both asynchronously and in real-time. We have updated the Git tooling experience in Visual Studio to enable more async collaboration with other repo contributors, and the GitHub extension for Visual Studio Code enables developers to work with GitHub Issues and Pull Requests directly in the editor. For real-time communication, Visual Studio Live Share, is supported in Visual Studio, Visual Studio Code, and now in GitHub Codespaces, enabling developers to collaborate from anywhere.

With distributed team members pushing code changes more frequently, it's more important than ever that your DevOps platform makes it easy to create seamless, automated, and secure code-to-cloud deployments. The publish experience in Visual Studio now has an option to generate a GitHub Actions workflow for CI/CD to your preferred Azure resources, by using deployment secrets configured in your GitHub repository. We are alsor releasing new GitHub Actions for Azure to scan Azure resources for policy violationscheck for vulnerabilities in container images, and for deploying ARM templates. These enable developers to create automated code-to-cloud workflows with integrated security and governance, and also help organizations adopt an “everything as-code” DevOps model for everything from infrastructure to compliance and security policies and build and release pipelines, enabling continuous improvement, better re-use and greater transparency. To learn how to incorporate these actions into your workflows, check out our GitHub Actions for Azure documentation 

Increasing Developer Velocity and agility

In a recent study published by McKinsey & Co, companies that have a higher Developer Velocity Index (DVI) score, experience up to five-fold increase in revenue growth and 55 percent higher innovation. Public cloud adoption and modern application development practices—using a mix of cloud native architectures with Containers/Kubernetes and serverless functions, DevOps, managed databases, and rapid application development with low-code platforms—can help organizations increase Developer Velocity.

When it comes to increasing agility, we have seen that development teams that adopt DevOps are able to ship new features faster. Although many organizations are adopting DevOps, implementing effective practices at enterprise-scale can be difficult. To help with this, we have now published the Enterprise DevOps Report 2020–2021, a Microsoft and Sogeti research study of more than 250 cloud and DevOps implementations. In this report, you can learn how to scale your DevOps practices to improve business metrics, customer satisfaction, and Developer Velocity, creating the right environment for developers to innovate.

There is increasing demand to accelerate line-of-business (LoB) application development. In fact, the demand is growing 5X faster than IT departments can deliver. To address this challenge, Power Apps offers low-code development experience for anyone to create web and mobile frontends and business processes in days instead of weeks or months. Combined with Azure services, Power Apps allows developer teams to scale to demand without needing to compromise on architectural fundamentals, compliance, quality, or scale. See how Priceline Australia gained insights from their 1,000+ retail stores using Power Apps and Azure. Today, we are announcing that developers can now build custom connectors with Azure API Management and Azure Functions to any Microsoft hosted third-party, legacy, or LoB apps. We are also announcing GitHub integration for Power Apps, that allows developers to streamline application lifecycle management using the CI/CD tool they are already familiar with. These features are now available in preview.

Integrations with existing enterprise applications play a key role in delivering new features faster. Azure Logic Apps, our workflow platform with more than 300 connectors to enterprise and SaaS applications, has enabled over 40,000 customers to build workflows seamlessly. Today, we are announcing the preview of a new containerized runtime for Logic Apps, the same runtime powering Azure Functions, offering hosting flexibility to run on App Service Plans, Kubernetes, or any cloud and enterprise features such as private endpoints, deployment slots, and more cost-effective Virtual network (VNET) access.

I'm also sharing that .NET 5 Release Candidate is now available, with general availability coming on November 10, 2020 at .NET Conf. This release continues the journey to unify the .NET platform across mobile, web, desktop, machine learning, big data and IoT workloads, enabling developers to use a single platform for all their application needs. .NET 5 also has several cloud and web investments, such as smaller, faster single file applications that use less memory, which are appropriate for microservices and containerized applications. This release includes significant performance improvements, support for Windows ARM64, and new releases of C# 9.0 and F# 5.0 languages. Developers can now download .NET 5 RC with a go-live license with support for production deployments.

Delivering cost savings with the cloud

With remote work and digital customer engagement resulting in increased website traffic, many customers are finding that their existing web applications and infrastructure are limited in capacity and lack the agility to address changing business demands. Azure App Service hosts over 2M web apps and processes over 50B requests every day. Combined with Azure SQL Database, App Service offers a fully managed environment to migrate and modernize all your web apps.

In a recent report on .NET app modernization, GigaOm found that customers migrating their .NET Apps to Azure App Service and Azure SQL Database can save up to 54 percent compared to on-premises. City National Bank migrated an integrated accounting and bill-pay client solution, built on ASP.NET and SQL Server, to Azure App Service and Azure SQL, with minimal code changes. This migration helped them get a clear understanding of the ROI, better cost optimization and increased agility to launch new web and mobile apps faster. This week we're announcing several major investments in App Service to make it easier and more cost effective to migrate and modernize your .NET web apps with Azure.

The new Premium v3 (Pv3) App Service Plan can handle large scale web apps, supporting more apps per instance and larger, memory intensive apps with up to 32GB per instance.​ We’re also making Windows Containers support in App Service generally available, enabling customers to run a broader range of .NET applications with COM+ or custom OS dependencies.​

Starting November 1, 2020, we will offer Reserved Instance (RI) Pricing for App Service, delivering up to 35 percent cost savings with a 1-year commitment and up to 55 percent for a 3-year commitment, compared to pay as you go prices. A fantastic way to save even more costs as you look to migrate existing Web Apps to the cloud. For customers that need an isolated environment to secure their most sensitive web apps, we are announcing the preview of App Service Isolated v2 plan, with a simplified deployment experience and no stamp fee, offering a 80 percent reduction in costs, compared to Isolated v1 plans.

Kubernetes has become the standard way for customers to orchestrate containers at scale. We recently shared how to optimize your costs with scale-to-zero configurations, leveraging spot node pools and by using resource quota policies with Azure Policy for Azure Kubernetes Service(AKS). Today, we are announcing the preview of AKS start/stop cluster feature, allowing customers to completely pause an AKS cluster and pick up where they left off later with a switch of a button, saving time and cost. Azure Policy add-on for AKS is now generally available enabling customers to audit and enforce policies and drive in-depth compliance across pods, namespaces, and other Kubernetes resources.

We also want developers to be able to work with cloud resources as easily as if they were local. The release of our Bridge to Kubernetes extensions for Visual Studio and Visual Studio Code allows you to develop against microservices within a running AKS cluster from your development environment. This enables debugging existing services without needing to configure or deploy a new cluster. Support for AKS is generally available today, and is in preview for all other Kubernetes platforms. 

Lastly, we believe that Azure is the best place for Open Source and have been working to give developers more control, confidence, and options to reduce costs. Yesterday, we announced the preview of a new deployment option for Azure Database for MySQL and Azure Database for PostgreSQL, Flexible Server. We also announced the preview of a new serverless pricing option for all Azure Cosmos DB APIs, which offers a cost effective option to get started with Azure Cosmos DB and is a perfect fit for applications with intermittent traffic patterns. Learn more about innovation on databases

 I have always been inspired by developers and I continue to be motivated to empower them and their teams. We have released new capabilities to help your team become more resilient with remote application development and increase agility and Developer Velocity while driving significant cost savings with Visual Studio, GitHub, Azure and Power Apps. I hope you will join us in the Azure Application Development Keynote, where we will share more information about these releases and share some awesome demos.

Happy coding!

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