Cloud Platform Release Announcements for January 29, 2015

This is a blog post of a new ongoing series of consolidated updates from the Cloud Platform 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 Platform  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:

  • New Power BI Preview and Licensing Available
  • General Availability for Azure SQL Database Latest Update (V12) and New Security Features Coming
  • Multi-Factor Authentication Per Application and Connect Health is Now Available in Public Preview
  • Content Protection for Azure Media Services Generally Available
  • Microsoft Azure Infrastructure Services Updates
  • Visual Studio 2015 CTP 5
  • Visual Studio 2013 Update 5 CTP 2
  • Azure RMS New Features


New Power BI Preview and Licensing Available

For those not familiar with Power BI, it is a cloud-based business analytics service (software-as-a -service) for non-technical business users. With just a browser – any browser – or a Power BI mobile app, customers can keep a pulse on their business via live operational dashboards. They can deeply explore their business data, through interactive visual reports, and enrich it with additional data sources.
Today, anyone with a US business email account can try the preview of the new Power BI today for free. The preview introduces a number of new Power BI including dashboards, new visualizations, support for popular software-as-a-service applications, a native iPad app and live “hybrid” connectivity to on-premises SQL Server Analysis Services tabular models. The preview will be made available internationally in the coming months.
We announced updates to Power BI licensing. We are introducing a freemium offer, available as Power BI and Power BI Pro. Power BI will be available for free and will not expire. Power BI Pro, will be available at a low monthly price and will add additional data capacity and features for the enterprise. In anticipation of this move, we are lowering the price of our in-market Power BI service to $9.99 per user a month on Feb 1, 1015. More information on these offers is available here.
General Availability for Azure SQL Database Latest Update (V12) and New Security Features Coming
The Azure SQL Database (V12) service version, which was introduced last December, is now generally available (GA) in the North Europe and West Europe datacenters, will be GA in all regions across the United States on February 9, 2015, and rolled out worldwide by March 1, 2015. This latest version of SQL Database introduces near-complete SQL Server engine compatibility, greater support for larger databases, and expanded Premium performance. Internal tests on 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 the In-memory columnstore technology.
“As a company committed to maintaining the highest innovation standards for our global clients, we’re always eager to test the latest features,“ said John Schlesinger, Chief Enterprise Architect at Temenos. “So previewing the latest version of SQL Database was a no-brainer for us. After running both a benchmark and some close-of-business workloads, which are required by our regulated banking customers, we saw significant performance gains including a doubling of throughput for large blob operations, which are essential for our customer’s reporting needs.” 
Additionally, starting today and over the coming months, we are excited to announce that SQL Database will introduce a portfolio of security features to help customers better protect their cloud data and help further meet corporate and industry compliance policies. These security enhancements include Row-Level Security, Dynamic Data Masking, and Transparent Data Encryption and join Auditing which is currently in GA. Available in preview today, customers can implement Row-Level Security on databases to enable implementation of fine-grained access control over rows in a database table for greater control over which users can access which data.

Coming soon, SQL Database will introduce Dynamic Data Masking which is a policy-based security feature that helps limit the exposure of data in a database by returning masked data to non-privileged users who run queries over designated database fields, like credit card numbers, without changing data on the database. Finally, we are excited to announce that Transparent Data Encryption is coming soon to SQL Database V12 databases for encryption at rest on all databases.
Stay tuned over the coming months for details as we continue to rollout the latest service update GA and upcoming security features.

Multi-Factor Authentication Per Application and Connect Health is Now Available in Public Preview

Starting on January 22st, conditional access policies can be created with Azure Active Directory Premium to enforce Multi-Factor Authentication, to users and groups accessing specific applications. Trusted IP ranges can be excluded from the policy. With this release you can enforce Multi-Factor Authentication, only for access to federated applications. All other kinds of applications will be supported in upcoming releases.

Also in public preview, Connect Health, will help monitor and gain insights into your identity infrastructure that is used to extend on-premises identities to Azure Active Directory and Office 365.  In this first release we will focus on monitoring the status of ADFS infrastructure. Other sync components will be supported in the future releases. Connect Health will be an Azure Active Directory Premium feature, available via the new preview Azure Portal only.
Content Protection for Azure Media Services Generally Available

We are very excited to announce that our Content Protection service for Azure Media Services is now generally available and backed by the full support of the Azure Service-Level Agreement (SLA) for all customers.  We understand the importance of protecting your premium media content, and our robust offering features both static and dynamic encryption with first party PlayReady license delivery and an AES 128-bit key delivery service. Customers can either dynamically encrypt during delivery or statically encrypt during the content processing workflow, and our content protection options are available for both live and on-demand workflows.
For more information on functionality and pricing, please visit the Media Services Content Protection blog post, the Media Services Pricing webpage, or this Securing Media MSDN section.

Microsoft Azure Infrastructure Services Updates

From new massive G-Series VMs, to the ability to automate database HA, backup and patching make Microsoft Azure Infrastructure Services (IaaS) the ideal place to run your enterprise SQL Server workloads. Learn more by reading our blog.

Visual Studio 2015 CTP 5

On January 16th, we released Visual Studio 2015 CTP 5 with new features in debugging, diagnostics, the XAML language service, and ASP.NET 5 that we added after the November Preview release. You can read about the new features and known issues in Visual Studio 2015 CTP 5, and also download it. Alternatively, save some time and use the provided virtual machine image in Azure.

 Visual Studio 2013 Update 5 CTP 2

On January 26th we released Visual Studio 2013 Update 5 CTP 2, adding support for graphics debugging of Unity-based applications on Windows Phone, and making fixes in the IDE, Team Foundation Server, and Git support. The release notes have the complete list of features and fixes.

Azure RMS  New Features

Azure RMS is making migration easier with the introduction of the Azure RMS migration toolkit. Organizations that are looking to move from AD RMS to Azure RMS can now use the Azure RMS migration toolkit that enables AD RMS and Windows RMS customers to migrate to Azure RMS without losing access to their existing RMS-protected content or their policies. Azure RMS is also introducing departmental templates in public preview. This will allow administrators to define a list of groups or individual users that can apply a particular template to protect documents.

Additionally, to help organizations carry a phased deployment of Azure RMS, we’re introducing Onboarding controls. These controls allow users to designate a subset of users who can start to protect content with Azure RMS. Check out our Azure RMS sharing application for Windows Phone at Windows Phone store to serve all of your RMS needs on the go. To learn more about these new Azure RMS capabilities, read The RMS Team Blog.