• 8 min read

Last week in Azure: News from Connect(); 2017, Azure Virtual Data Center, and more

Highlights from last week in Azure for the week of November 13, 2017: All of the Connect(); 2017 news, Azure Virtual Data Center, and more!

As covered in Scott Guthrie's post, the annual Microsoft Connect(); event last week focused on developing for the intelligent cloud and intelligent edge to put “AI into the hands of every developer so they unleash the power of data and reimagine possibilities that will improve our world.” If you missed any parts of Connect();, you can find all of the Azure-related content on Channel 9 for on-demand viewing.


Expanding AI tools and resources for developers and data scientists on Azure – Announcements at Connect(); include updates to Azure Machine Learning (AML) including Azure IoT Edge integration, a new Azure Databricks service that combines the best of Databricks and Azure for Spark-based analytics, and a new Visual Studio Tools for AI development environment with Azure Machine Learning integration.

New NVIDIA GPUs coming to Azure accelerate HPC and AI workloads – We are launching a new VM size on Azure, the NCv3, which will offer the new NVIDIA Tesla V100 GPU. Our NCv2, offering NVIDIA P100s, and our ND-series, offering NVIDIA P40s, are exiting preview and will be GA for your production workloads starting on December 1st. Azure Batch AI and our Data Science Virtual machine images can also take advantage of these GPU VMs.

Microsoft Cognitive Services updates for Microsoft Connect(); – Learn about recent updates to Text Analytics API, Translator API, and Custom Vision Service. Augment the next generation of applications with the ability to see, hear, speak, understand, and interpret needs using natural methods of communication. Add vision and speech recognition, emotion and sentiment detection, language understanding, and search, to applications without having any data science expertise.

Azure IoT Edge open for developers to build for the intelligent edge – Azure IoT Edge enables you to run cloud intelligence directly on IoT devices even smaller than a Raspberry Pi or as powerful as they need. At Connect();, we announced support for AI Toolkit for Azure IoT Edge, Azure Machine Learning, Azure Stream Analytics, Azure Functions, and more.


Dear Cassandra Developers, welcome to Azure #CosmosDB! – Announced native support for Apache Cassandra API in Azure Cosmos DB, which offers you Cassandra as-a-service powered by Azure Cosmos DB. Azure Cosmos DB provides wire protocol-level compatibility with existing SDKs and tools. This compatibility ensures you can use your existing codebase with the Cassandra API of Azure Cosmos DB with trivial changes.

A technical overview of Azure Databricks – A new service in preview that brings together the best of the Apache Spark analytics platform and Azure. Azure Databricks features optimized connectors to Azure storage platforms (e.g. Data Lake and Blob Storage) for the fastest possible data access, and one-click management directly from the Azure console.

Azure #CosmosDB @ Microsoft Connect(); 2017 – A roll-up blog post that covers all of the Azure Cosmos DB highlights from the Microsoft Connect(); 2017 event.

Microsoft announces the general availability of Azure Time Series Insights – Azure Time Series Insights is a cost-effective and performant service for the analytics, visualization, and storage of time series data. Use Time Series Insights to store and manage terabytes of time-series data, explore and visualize billions of events simultaneously, conduct root-cause analysis, and to compare multiple sites and assets.

MariaDB, PostgreSQL, and MySQL: more choices on Microsoft Azure – Microsoft joined the MariaDB foundation as a Platinum sponsor to work closely together with Monty (Michael Widenius) and the MariaDB community on making MariaDB even better. Azure Database for MariaDB joins Azure database services for PostgreSQL and MySQL on Azure to provide more choices to developers.

Azure #CosmosDB extends support for MongoDB aggregation pipeline, unique indexes, and more – The latest service deployment includes improvements for MongoDB aggregation pipeline support (preview), unique index support, and MongoDB wire protocol version 5 support, which is used in MongoDB 3.4 (preview).

Announcing the general availability of Azure #CosmosDB Table API – Using the Azure Cosmos DB Table API, applications running on Azure Table storage can take advantage of secondary indexes, turnkey global distribution, dedicated throughput, and single-digit millisecond latency with 99.99% comprehensive SLAs.

Pre-announcing the general availability of Azure #CosmosDB Gremlin (Graph) API – Azure Cosmos DB is the first managed PaaS service that brings cloud-native and enterprise-ready features to graph databases. This includes turnkey global distribution, independent scaling of storage and throughput, predictable single-digit millisecond latencies, automatic indexing, and the most comprehensive in the industry SLAs. You can store massive graphs with billions of vertices and edges, and query the graphs with millisecond latency and easily evolve the graph structure and schema.

Apache Spark to Azure #CosmosDB Connector is now generally available – The Apache Spark to Azure Cosmos DB Connector enables both ad-hoc and interactive queries on real-time big data, as well as advanced analytics, data science, machine learning and artificial intelligence. Azure Cosmos DB can be used for capturing data that is collected incrementally from various sources across the globe. This includes social analytics, time series, game or application telemetry, retail catalogs, up-to-date trends and counters, and audit log systems.

#AzureSQLDW: Hub and Spoke series Integration with Azure Analysis Services – Azure SQL Data Warehouse is Microsoft’s SQL analytics platform, the backbone of your Enterprise Data Warehouse (EDW). The service enables you to scale compute and storage elastically (and independently) with massively parallel processing. SQL DW integrates seamlessly with big data stores and acts as a hub to your data marts and cubes for an optimized and tailored performance of your EDW.

Azure Stream Analytics now available on IoT Edge – Azure Stream Analytics on IoT Edge (now in preview) empowers developers to deploy near-real-time analytical intelligence closer to IoT devices so that they can unlock the full value of device-generated data. Designed for customers requiring low latency, resiliency, efficient use of bandwidth and compliance, enterprises can now deploy control logic close to the industrial operations and complement Big Data analytics done in the cloud.


Announcing General Availability of Azure Reserved VM Instances (RIs) – Azure RIs enable you to reserve Virtual Machines on a one- or three-year term, and provide up to 72% cost savings versus pay-as-you-go prices. Azure RIs give you price predictability and help improve your budgeting and forecasting.

HPC containers with Azure Batch – We added support for Singularity containers in the latest Batch Shipyard release. Singularity is a container solution amenable to both administrators and users of shared HPC and cluster computing environments, while still providing access to accelerators such as GPUs and specialized interconnects in container contexts. Batch Shipyard is an open system for enabling simple, configuration-based container execution on Azure Batch, and aims to allow users of these shared computing environments to easily execute their existing Singularity workloads on Azure.

Additional news

Announcing the general availability of Azure App Service diagnostics – Azure App Service diagnostics provides an intelligent and interactive experience, analyzes what’s wrong with your web apps and quickly guides you to the right information to help troubleshoot and resolve issues faster. App Service diagnostics reduces trial & error troubleshooting by expediting problem resolution with recommended potential solutions.

Azure DevOps Project – public preview – Creating a DevOps Project provisions Azure resources and comes with a Git code repository, Application Insights integration, and a continuous delivery pipeline set up to deploy to Azure. The DevOps Project dashboard helps you monitor code commits, builds, and deployments, from a single view in the Azure portal.

Announcing general availability of Bash in Cloud Shell – Bash in Cloud Shell provides an interactive web-based, Linux command-line experience from virtually anywhere. With a single click through the Azure portal, Azure documentation, or the Azure mobile app, you get access to a secure and authenticated Azure workstation to manage and deploy resources from a native Linux environment held in Azure.

Azure Networking updates for Fall 2017 – Updates to simplify the overall network management, security, scalability, availability and performance of your mission-critical applications.

Content, SDKs, and Samples

Free ebook: Azure Virtual Datacenter – Azure Virtual Datacenter (VDC) is an approach to making the most of the Azure cloud platform's capabilities while respecting your existing security and networking policies. When deploying enterprise workloads to the cloud, IT organizations and business units must balance governance with developer agility. In this free ebook from from the Azure Customer Advisory Team (AzureCAT), Azure Virtual Datacenter provides models to achieve this balance with an emphasis on governance.

New multi-tenant patterns for building SaaS applications on SQL Database – An expanded set of sample SaaS applications, The Wingtip Tickets SaaS application, each using a different database tenancy model on SQL Database. Each sample includes a series of management scripts and tutorials to help you jump start your own SaaS app project. These samples demonstrate a range of SaaS-focused designs and management patterns that can accelerate SaaS application development on SQL Database.

Preview the new Azure Storage SDK for Go & Storage SDKs roadmap – A new and redesigned Azure Storage SDK for Go with documentation and examples. This new SDK was redesigned to follow the next generation design philosophy for Azure Storage SDKs and is built on top of code generated by AutoRest, an open source code generator for the OpenAPI specification.

Azure Shows

Azure CDN: Dynamic Site Acceleration – Richard Li joins Scott Hanselman to discuss the new Dynamic Site Acceleration (DSA) optimization for Azure CDN, and how it can be used In combination with standard CDN caching features to measurably improve the performance of web pages with dynamic content.

App Service Diagnostic and Troubleshooting Experience – Steve Ernst joins Scott Hanselman to introduce App Service diagnostics which is the home for diagnosing and troubleshooting problems with your app. This intelligent service was built to diagnose many different problems and suggest targeted solutions for the customer.

Azure Analysis Services Visual Model Editor – Azure Analysis Services makes it easier to build semantic models with the introduction of its new web modeling experience. In this episode, Josh Caplan will show you just how easy it is to use this experience to create a rich semantic model on top of data stored in Azure SQL Data Warehouse. Learn how to empower your business users to build their own reports with data at cloud scale.

Episode 204 – Back to Cloud Services – A great throwback discussion to one of the earliest (and most robust) of Azure Services, the Classic Cloud Service, with Adam Modlin, a Senior App Dev Consultant at Microsoft.

Cloud Tech 10 – 20th November 2017 – CosmosDB, Cloud Shell, DevOps and more! – Each week, Mark Whitby, a Cloud Solution Architect at Microsoft UK, covers what's happening with Microsoft Azure in just 10 minutes, or less. In this episode:

  • Get a new .NET, Node.js, Java, PHP or Python application complete with CI/CD pipeline up and running in minutes with the Azure DevOps Project
  • The Azure Storage SDK adds support for Go
  • The Azure Cloud Shell's Bash shell is now generally available
  • Azure Database now supports MariaDB along with MySQL and PostgreSQL
  • Find and fix problems with your web applications with Azure's new App Service Diagnostics
  • Azure Databricks in now available in preview
  • Lots of CosmosDB announcements including support for Cassandra, new features for MongoDB and news on general availability of Graph API, Table API and Apache Spark Connector for CosmosDB
  • New NCv3 series Virtual Machines with Nvidia Tesla V100 GPU's
  • Save up to 82% on virtual machine pricing with Azure Reserved Instances
  • Azure Virtual Datacenter eBook release