Cloud + Enterprise Release Announcements for December 11, 2014

This is a blog post of a new ongoing series of consolidated updates from the Cloud + Enterprise team.

In today’s mobile first, cloud first world, Microsoft provides the technologies and tools to enable enterprises to embrace a cloud culture. Our differentiated innovations, comprehensive mobile solutions and developer tools help all of our customers realize the true potential of the cloud first era.

You expect cloud-speed innovation from us, and we’re delivering across the breadth of our Cloud + Enterprise product portfolio. Below is a consolidated list of our latest releases to help you stay current, with links to additional details if you’d like more information. In this update:

  • Live Channels for Azure Media Services
  • Analytics Platform System
  • New Java, PHP and Migration Tools
  • SQL Server Migration Assistant (SSMA) for IBM DB2 Databases
  • New Preview for Latest SQL Database Update
  • Announcing High Performance Virtual Network Gateways
  • Azure Active Directory Application Proxy Generally Available.
  • Administration Delegation on Azure Active Directory in Public Preview
  • Add Your Own Password SSO SaaS Applications in Public Preview
  • More Ways to Get Azure Active Directory Premium
  • Azure Site Recovery New Deployment Options
  • New Mobile Application Management Capabilities Coming to Microsoft Intune This Week
  • Introducing Preview of Premium Storage
  • Azure RemoteApp General Availability
  • Visual Studio Online Updates

Live Channels for Azure Media Services

The same streaming solution used by more than ten leading international broadcasters to seamlessly deliver coverage of the 2014 World Cup—is generally available and backed by the full support of the Azure Service-Level Agreement (SLA) for all customers.

In public preview, Media Encoder Premium for Microsoft Azure Media Services offers new advanced encoding capabilities, including support for MPEG-2 TS, MXF, and DVCPRO formats, as well as 4K AVC, multi-language audio, closed captioning, deinterlacing, and color conversion. These capabilities are accessible through the Azure Media Services Explorer desktop tool.

For more information, please visit the Media Services webpage, the Getting Started with Live Streaming blog post, or this Encoding and Packaging MSDN section. To get more information about the workflow design tool as part of Media Encoder Premium, please contact the Media Encoder Premium Team. For a comprehensive look at pricing, please visit the Media Services Pricing Details webpage.

 

Analytics Platform System

As Microsoft’s “big data in a box” solution built with HP, Dell and Quanta, the Analytics Platform System is a data warehousing appliance that supports the ability to query across traditional relational data and data stored in a Hadoop region – either in the appliance or in a separate Hadoop cluster. This latest release includes a data management gateway that establishes a secure connection between on-premises data stored in the Analytics Platform System and Microsoft’s cloud business intelligence and advanced analytics services such as Power BI and Azure Machine Learning. This capability, coupled with PolyBase, a feature of the Analytics Platform System, allows for seamless integration of data stored in SQL Server with data stored in Hadoop. This makes it easier for the Analytics Platform System to become a secure and scalable enterprise data hub enabling users of Power BI and Azure Machine Learning to gain new insights across all of their data, whether on-premises or in the Azure cloud.

 

New Java, PHP and Migration Tools

Microsoft is making available, new tools and drivers that  support greater interoperability with PHP and Java  and make it easier for customers to migrate to and use our big data technologies.

Microsoft Azure DocumentDB is our fully-managed NoSQL document database service with native support for JSON and JavaScript. DocumentDB already includes SDKs for popular languages, including Node.js, Python, .NET, and JavaScript – today we are adding a new Java SDK that will make DocumentDB easier to use within a Java application. The client provides easy-to-use methods to manage and query DocumentDB resources including collections, stored procedures and permissions. The Java SDK is also available on Github and welcomes community contributions.

Additionally, we are bolstering our SQL Server tools and drivers with updates to the Microsoft JDBC Driver for SQL Server and the SQL Server Driver for PHP. Available in the coming week, these drivers will make it easier for our customers’ applications to access both SQL Server and Azure SQL Database.

For customers that are migrating their IBM DB2 workloads to SQL Server, we are also making available today the SQL Server Migration Assistant (SSMA) tool which automates all aspects of database migration including migration assessment analysis, schema and SQL statement conversion, data migration as well as migration testing to reduce cost and reduce risk of database migration projects. SSMA 6.0 for IBM DB2 automates migrations for IBM DB2 databases to SQL Serer and Azure SQL Database and is free to download and use. Support for IBM DB2 is in addition to earlier updates to SSMA 6.0 including migration support for larger Oracle databases.

 

SQL Server Migration Assistant (SSMA) for IBM DB2 Databases

For customers that are migrating or considering migrating their IBM DB2 workloads to SQL Server, we are making available today the SQL Server Migration Assistant (SSMA) tool which automates all aspects of database migration including migration assessment analysis, schema and SQL statement conversion, data migration as well as migration testing to reduce cost and reduce risk of your database migration projects. SSMA 6.0 for IBM DB2 automates migrations from IBM DB2 databases to SQL Server and Azure SQL Database and is free to download and use. Support for IBM DB2 is in addition to earlier updates to SSMA 6.0 including support for larger Oracle databases. To learn more and download SSMA 6.0 for DB2, go here.

 

New Preview for Latest SQL Database Update

The availability of a new preview (live 12/11), which was previously announced in November, brings near-complete SQL Server engine compatibility and more Premium performance. This preview introduces the next-generation of the SQL Database service which will help drive more compatibility, flexibility and performance for customers. The features in this preview mark the first step in delivering exciting new capabilities for customers on this new service architecture. 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.

Today’s preview continues our journey to bring industry-leading in-memory technologies to the cloud as well as unlock new functionality that streamlines the movement of SQL Server database applications to Azure and also dramatically improves the ability for customers to work with heavier database workloads. Weichert, one of the nation’s leading full-service real estate providers, is actively using the new preview. “We are deeply driven by ROI and committed to migrating our mission-critical apps to Azure—last year we saw a 60% cost savings after moving our real estate search engine, weichert.com, to Azure. From a strategy perspective, these SQL Database service updates are our answer to migrating and working with large data types by leveraging features such as online index rebuild, and partitioning,” stated Joe Testa, Vice President of Systems Development, Weichert. “Simply put, the results so far have been fantastic—we’re seeing >2x better performance and the advanced features that were only previously available in SQL Server now make it easier to work with our applications as we continue to migrate our mission-critical apps to Azure.”

Detailed enhancements of this preview are available on the preview getting started page, however, key highlights are as follows:

  • Easier management of large databases to support heavier workloads with parallel queries (Premium only), table partitioning, online indexing and worry-free large index rebuilds with 2GB size limit removed, and alter database command.
  • Support for key programmability functions to drive more robust application design with CLR, T-SQL Windows functions, XML index, and change tracking.
  • Up to 100x performance improvements* with support for In-memory columnstore queries (Premium only) for data mart and smaller analytic workloads. (*Based on internal Microsoft tests which run the same query without and with columnstore index applied, customer results may vary.)
  • Improved monitoring and troubleshooting: Extended Events (XEvents) and visibility into over 100 new table views via an expanded set of Database Management Views (DMVs).
  • New S3 performance level: offers more pricing flexibility between Standard and Premium. S3 will deliver 100 DTU and all the features available in the Standard tier.

To try this preview, please sign up via the Azure Preview Features page or via the new Azure Portal.

 

Announcing High Performance Virtual Network Gateways

Azure customers now have a new Virtual Network Gateway option to connect their workloads from their Azure Virtual Network to their on-premises sites. The High Performance Gateway offers higher bandwidth and more connections than the current VPN Gateway, and is also available for Azure ExpressRoute. Azure customers with Azure Virtual Networks and/or Azure ExpressRoute circuits can learn more by visiting the Azure blog and the Azure Pricing page.

 

Azure Active Directory Application Proxy generally available.

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, while your internal apps will appear alongside SaaS apps in end-user access panels (myapps).

 

Administration delegation on Azure Active Directory in Public Preview

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. Administrative units can be created and managed only via PowerShell during this public preview.

 

Add your own password SSO SaaS Applications in Public Preview

One more functionality is released in public preview and will enable 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.

 

More Ways to Get Azure Active Directory Premium

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 Site Recovery New Deployment Options

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.

 

New Mobile Application Management Capabilities Coming to Microsoft Intune This Week

Building upon the Intune announcements made at TechEd Europe and the recent November service update, we began rolling out the next Microsoft Intune service update on December 9, 2014. This service update introduces new mobile application management (MAM) capabilities, protecting Office 365 data and much more.  New features released to Intune standalone (cloud only) as part of this service update include:

  • Ability to restrict access to Exchange Online email based upon device enrollment and compliance policies
  • Management of Office mobile apps (Word, Excel, PowerPoint) for iOS devices, including ability to restrict actions such as copy, cut, and paste outside of the managed app ecosystem
  • Ability to extend application protection to existing line-of-business apps using the Intune App Wrapping Tool for iOS
  • Managed Browser app for Android devices that controls actions that users can perform, including allow/deny access to specific websites. Managed Browser app for iOS devices currently pending store approval
  • PDF Viewer, AV Player, and Image Viewer apps for Android devices that help users securely view corporate content
  • Bulk enrollment of iOS devices using Apple Configurator
  • Ability to create configuration files using Apple Configurator and import these files into Intune to set custom iOS policies
  • Lockdown of Windows Phone 8.1 devices with Assigned Access mode using OMA-URI settings
  • Ability to set additional policies on Windows Phone 8.1 devices using OMA-URI settings

You can read more about this service update on the Microsoft Intune blog here.  

 

Introducing Preview of Premium Storage

Azure Premium Storage is a new SSD based storage offering designed to support I/O intensive workloads; provisioned as a persistent disk and configured to meet your performance requirements. You can attach multiple persistent disks, which delivers up to 32 TB of storage and more than 50,000 IOPS with less than one millisecond latency for read operations. To learn more about our preview, click here.

 

Azure RemoteApp General Availability

To stay productive, people would like to access their corporate resources anytime, anywhere and on any device. However, for IT organizations, providing these resources securely to different device platforms is no easy task. Azure RemoteApp delivers remote applications from the Azure cloud. Users can access these applications via the Remote Desktop client from a variety of devices. IT can scale up or down to meet the dynamic business needs without expensive infrastructure costs and centralize corporate resources on the Azure cloud. Today, the service is 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. Azure RemoteApp provides a 30-day trial for customers who would like to experience the service. Get started with Azure RemoteApp now.

 

Visual Studio Online Updates

This month Visual Studio Online rolled out the sprint 74 updates to VS Online. You can read details about the features on the services news page.  

We also announced new updates to VS Online’s pricing and licensing yesterday. These updates have been made to continually improve product offerings and simplify pricing and licensing for customers. Key pricing and licensing changes include:

  • Release Management will now be easier to manage. As of January 1st, 2015 customers will no longer have to pay any per processor (or any other per deployment environment) charge.
  • Test execution capabilities will be added to the test hub into all “Basic” levels of VS Online; test execution rights will also be added, using the test hub, into Team Foundation Server CALs. This will make it easier to bring anyone in an organization who needs to run tests into the development process.
  • Cloud load testing pricing and VS Online build service pricing has been updated to a tiering model. These changes will make load testing and build service more approachable to all organizations. Changes will go into effect for Azure direct customers later this week, and for Enterprise Agreements on January 1st. In December, the ability to apply spending caps for load testing and build service will also be introduced.
  • For VS Online Professional, the 10 user limit has been removed. VS Professional + MSDN should will continue to remain the right offering for larger teams. This change will go into effect within the next couple of weeks.

View details about VS Online pricing and licensing changes here.