• 4 min read

Harness the power of data and AI in your applications with Azure

Our commitment to developers is to make Azure the best cloud for developing intelligent applications that harness the power of data and AI. At Microsoft Build, we are announcing several exciting new capabilities and offers that make it easy and cost-effective for developers to get started with Azure data and AI services.

Over the past year, it’s become clear that businesses navigating these unprecedented times require a new level of agility. Core to this agility is achieving a level of software development excellence that was once thought unimaginable. When it comes to empowering all developers with limitless scale, choice, and possibilities, Microsoft Azure has their back.

Our commitment to developers is to make Azure the best cloud for developing intelligent applications that harness the power of data and AI. At Microsoft Build, we are announcing several exciting new capabilities and offers that make it easy and cost-effective for developers to get started with Azure data and AI services.

Innovate with Azure database services

We are announcing several new capabilities that empower developers to innovate with Azure’s database services. Azure SQL Database’s ledger capability, in preview, provides cryptographic verification for sensitive records. Customers like British Petroleum are already benefiting from this exciting feature. Azure Synapse Link for Microsoft Dataverse provides immediate insights from Microsoft Dynamics 365 and Microsoft Power Platform applications, while Microsoft Power BI streaming dataflows remove any bottleneck from signals to insights. There are also several updates to Azure Cosmos DB to help developers build and modernize high-performance applications at any scale, including:

  • Azure Cosmos DB serverless is now generally available for all APIs. Serverless charges are only for the resources consumed, making it a great deployment option for applications with spiky traffic patterns. Customers like Albertsons and Swiss Re are benefiting from this capability today.
  • Azure Cosmos DB integrated cache is now in preview. Integrated cache optimizes costs and boosts performance for read-heavy workloads by up to 96 percent and 300 percent, respectively. Customers like ASOS are already benefiting from this exciting feature.
  • Always Encrypted for Azure Cosmos DB is now in preview. Always Encrypted enables developers to encrypt sensitive data inside their client application before it gets stored in their database.
  • Azure Cosmos DB role-based access control (RBAC) is now generally available. RBAC enables administrators to define roles with specific rules and apply the roles to Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) profiles to determine access level.

Azure Cosmos DB has become the go-to database to power the world’s most demanding, mission-critical applications. For example, as Walmart prepared their e-commerce platform for the holiday season, they turned to Azure Cosmos DB for its high availability, sub-10-millisecond latency at a petabyte scale, and had the ability to handle billions of daily requests.  

We’re also announcing additional low-cost and free options for Azure Cosmos DB, Azure Database for PostgreSQL, and Azure Database for MySQL. Starting today, Azure Cosmos DB’s expanded free tier, now generally available, provides developers more flexibility to innovate with 1,000 RU/s provisioned throughput and 25 GB storage free monthly. Azure Cosmos DB’s free Linux emulator, in preview, enables Linux developers to build, test, and learn on Azure Cosmos DB locally on their Linux and macOS machines. A free 12-month offer for Azure Database for PostgreSQL and Azure Database for MySQL Flexible Server, available in June, will provide developers with up to 750 hours a month free for the first 12 months with an Azure free account. In addition, Azure Database for PostgreSQL – Hyperscale (Citus) basic tier, in preview, offers a cost-effective option to get started with Hyperscale (Citus) on a single node and makes it easy to add more worker nodes to achieve virtually limitless scale.

Build intelligent applications with Azure AI

Azure’s AI services continue to empower developers of all skill levels to build intelligent applications with the tools and languages of their choice. Developers with no machine learning experience can access high-quality vision, speech, language, and decision AI models through simple API calls. Developers building their own machine learning models can use tools like Jupyter notebooks, Visual Studio Code, and open-source frameworks, such as PyTorch and TensorFlow.

To help developers build AI solutions faster, we are announcing an additional category of services called Azure Applied AI Services. These services combine Azure Cognitive Services with task-specific AI and business logic, so developers can accelerate building AI solutions for common scenarios, such as document processing, customer service, and extracting insights from content. Applied AI services include Azure Bot Services, Azure Cognitive Search, Azure Form Recognizer, Azure Metrics Advisor, and Azure Immersive Reader, which many developers already know and enjoy. Starting today, Azure Bot Services makes it easier to build, test, and publish text, speech, or telephony-based bots through an integrated development experience. Azure Metrics Advisor, now generally available, automatically detects and diagnoses issues to minimize downtime. Samsung uses Azure Metrics Advisor to enhance its SmartTV service. Azure Video Analyzer, now in preview, brings Live Video Analytics and Video Indexer together so developers can quickly build AI-powered video analytics solutions. Dow relies on Azure Video Analyzer to help improve workplace safety, and Lufthansa uses it for improved operational efficiencies and safer aircraft turnaround.

Developers can extend applied AI services by bringing their own custom models from Azure Machine Learning. The managed endpoints in Azure Machine Learning enables developers to automate the creation and management of infrastructure used to serve models into applications. For developers using PyTorch for machine learning, they can now use PyTorch Enterprise for a more reliable production experience, with benefits like prioritized requests and hands-on support.

For developers who prefer building in a low-code environment, Microsoft Power Apps continues to deliver. Now, all developers can turn natural language to code and program by example with an AI-powered app development approach. This experience is powered by an OpenAI GPT-3 model, one of the largest natural language models in the world. This additional capability in Power Apps is made possible by Azure Machine Learning’s managed endpoints.

Get started today

Taken together, these announcements further cement Azure as the cloud that empowers developers of all skill levels to build intelligent applications that harness the power of data and AI. It's easier and more cost-effective for developers to innovate in Azure than ever before.

Get started today. We can’t wait to see what you build next.

Azure. Invent with purpose.