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Continued Innovation: Microsoft announces updates across Storage, Azure SQL Database, Identity and Access Management and Media Services

Today we are furthering our enterprise offerings with new and enhanced Azure services across Storage, Azure SQL Database, Azure Active Directory and much more.

Today’s workforce is more mobile and technically savvy than it has ever been and enterprises are striving to make their employees productive anywhere, anytime using any device of their choice. To drive this level of productivity, these businesses need flexibility, speed and confidence in their cloud solutions. Today we are furthering our enterprise offerings with new and enhanced Azure services across Storage, Azure SQL Database, Azure Active Directory and much more.

Preview of Premium Storage for high performance workloads

In our Oct 20 cloud briefing, you heard Scott Guthrie announce a number of new cloud innovations, including Premium Storage. Today the service is available in preview. Premium Storage is designed to support I/O intensive workloads. Premium Storage stores data on the latest technology Solid State Drives (SSDs) and offers up to 32 terabytes of storage per virtual machine. Customers will be able to drive more than 50,000 IOPS off of each virtual machine with sub-millisecond latency for all read operations. With Premium Storage, Azure offers the ability to truly lift-and-shift your demanding enterprise applications – like SQL Server, Dynamics AX, Dynamics CRM, Exchange Server, MySQL, and SAP Business Suite – to the cloud.

Enhancements to Azure SQL Database

Today marks the availability of a new preview of Azure SQL Database that brings near-complete SQL Server engine compatibility and more performance in the Premium tier. The features in this preview deliver exciting capabilities for customers on this new service architecture. It brings industry-leading in-memory technologies to the cloud, unlocks new functionality that streamlines the movement of SQL Server database applications to Azure, and dramatically improves the ability for customers to work with heavier database workloads. Internal tests querying over 600 million rows of data show Premium query performance improvements of around 5x in the new preview relative to today’s Premium SQL Database and up to 100x when applying In-memory columnstore technology. For additional details, visit the preview getting started page.

Enhancements to Azure Active Directory and General Availability of Azure RemoteApp

To stay productive, people need access to corporate resources at all times. Delivering these resources—such as sensitive line-of-business (LOB) or legacy applications—to different device platforms is no easy task. Microsoft continues to innovate around its identity and access management services as we ship the largest ever feature update to Azure Activity Directory and bring Azure RemoteApp to general availability.

Active Directory empowers enterprises to meet the ever increasing identity and access management needs. We are continuing to enhance Active Directory new rich capabilities at a rapid cadence, today announcing:

  • Azure Active Directory Application Proxy is a new module available in premium and basic Azure Active Directory editions that allows publishing of on-premises web applications on Azure Active Directory. Through an easy and secured process, web applications hosted on-premises can now be published via Azure Active Directory and made available to external users in the same way as software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications. Single sign-on is available, as well as user- and group-based access management, and your internal apps will appear alongside SaaS apps in end-user access panels (myapps).
  • Administration delegation on Azure Active Directory through administrative units is available in public preview. These logical containers can include users and groups, plus allow member-password and user-access administration to be delegated to individual users.
  • Another functionality released in public preview today enables administrators to configure password-based single sign-on for any web application that has an HTML sign-in page, even for applications that are not in the Azure Active Directory Application Gallery.
  • You can also add any link to the users’ Access Panel, such as deep links to specific SharePoint pages, or to web apps that use Active Directory Federation Services. Finally, now Azure Active Directory Premium is available for direct online purchase at the Office 365 portal, where you can purchase Azure Active Directory Premium licenses for as many users as you need. Then you can easily manage your Azure Active Directory by navigating to https://aka.ms/accessAAD or by using the related link from the Office 365 administration portal. To learn more about these and more new Azure Active Directory capabilities and how you can start using them, read the Active Directory Team Blog.


Azure RemoteApp delivers remote applications from the Azure cloud and users can access these applications via the Remote Desktop client appropriate for their device. Furthermore applications can scale up or down to meet dynamic business needs without expensive infrastructure costs and management complexity. As announced last week, the service is now available to 13 regions: all six public regions in North America, both regions in Europe, four regions in Asia and Japan, and in South America. In a few months we will turn on the two regions in Australia as well.

Enhancements to Azure Site Recovery

Azure Site Recovery now has the ability to replicate and recover virtual machines (VMs) directly to Azure without requiring System Center Virtual Machine Manager. Site Recovery provides several deployment models, including the ability to replicate VMs to—and recover them within—Azure. This includes integration with the System Center Virtual Machine Manager component for high levels of automation and convenience, while allowing you to avoid the cost and complexity of maintaining your own secondary disaster-recovery site. If you’re protecting fewer VMs or using other management tools, you now have the option of protecting your Hyper-V VMs in Azure without using System Center Virtual Machine Manager.

General Availability of Live Channels for Azure Media Services

Finally, we are very excited to announce that Live Channels for Azure Media Services—the same streaming solution used by more than one dozen international broadcasters to seamlessly deliver coverage of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics and World Cup —is now generally available and backed by the full support of the Azure Service-Level Agreement (SLA) for all customers. For more information on functionality and pricing, please visit the Getting Started with Live Streaming blog post, the Media Services webpage or Media Services Pricing webpage, or Live Streaming MSDN section.

Delivering innovation to our customers that offers flexibility and drives productivity at a cloud cadence is our core focus. Go to Azure.com today to learn more and to get started with a free trial. Also visit Scott Guthrie’s blog for a deep dive on today’s announcements.