Cloud Platform Release Announcements for May 4, 2015

Cloud Platform Release Announcements for May 4, 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:

  • Windows Server 2016 TP2

  • System Center 2016 TP2

  • Microsoft Operations Management Suite

  • Azure Stack Announce

  • Azure ExpressRoute and O365 partner announce

  • Azure IaaS Announcements

  • Azure Storage Announcements

  • Microsoft Advanced Threat Analytics Public Preview

  • Support for Windows 10 with System Center Configuration Manager and Microsoft Intune

  • Microsoft Intune Conditional Access and Mobile Application Management for the Outlook app

  • Azure Active Directory announcements

  • Azure Rights Management Document Tracking Public Preview

  • SQL Server 2016 & Pub Preview in summer 2015 announce

  • Power BI Mobile App for Windows PC & Surface

  • Power BI Partners Announcements


Windows Server 2016 Technical Preview 2

Microsoft is investing in making Windows Server a first-rate application platform for modern applications as well Microsoft applications like SQL and Exchange. You’ve seen this through the introduction of technologies like Windows Server and Hyper-V containers as well as Nano Server, which is optimized to power our container technologies and more. Service Fabric will also be available on Windows Server 2016, offering customer’s choice in how they deploy and manage modern apps and micro-services on-premises.

Windows Server 2016 TP2 is available today. In addition to featuring Nano Server, the preview comes with new features for enhanced virtualization such as:

  • Rolling upgrades for Hyper-V and Storage clusters for faster adoption of  new operating systems

  • Virtual machine compute resiliency to ensure VMs continue running even if the compute cluster fabric service fails

  • Storage Replica enhancements for synchronous storage replication for  affordable backup and disaster recovery

The third preview of Windows Server 2016 will be available this summer, and will include Windows Server Containers.  To download the technical preview, and to learn more, please visit the Windows Server 2016 Technical Preview Evaluation site


System Center 2016 Technical Preview 2

System Center has always been best in class in supporting solutions such as monitoring, automation, provisioning, protection, configuration and self-service. Through system center customers can continue to excel at providing unified management for a hybrid world, reduce the time to provision and operate infrastructure, workloads and applications, and drive workflow across their enterprise.

System Center 2016 will continue to speed time to value with new provisioning, monitoring and automation capabilities designed for the software-defined datacenter. The second Technical Preview of System Center 2016 will be available this week, with features such as

  • Enhanced SDDC investments including mixed mode cluster upgrades, enhanced scale out file server management and deployment of SDN at scale.

  • Powerful monitoring for key workloads including Azure, 0365, SQL and Exchange.

  • Nano Server, Windows storage and SMI-S support

  • Increased Linux management including DSC support, native SSH module and strengthened LAMP monitoring.

This week, you can download the second Technical Preview of System Center 2016 from the evaluation center.  In the meantime, check out the System Center team blog for the latest news.


Microsoft Operations Management Suite

IT management is crucial with the proliferation of applications, but it has also become increasingly complex. Most organizations have assets in multiple vendors’ clouds – across physical, virtual, private and public clouds. IT has been charged with getting a handle on these assets to help balance business needs for agility and control. Microsoft Operations Management Suite (OMS), leverages Microsoft’s deep management experience to streamline cloud management to deliver heterogeneous management capabilities for any cloud at a lower cost than competitive solutions.

OMS provides customers:

  • Simplified IT management for any enterprise.  Manage Azure or AWS, Windows Server or Linux, VMware or OpenStack with our cost-effective, all-in-one cloud IT management solution. 

  • Backup and integrated recovery for all their servers and applications, no matter where they reside.

  • In-built automation to orchestrate complex and repetitive operations

  • Log analytics to collect and search across multiple machine data sources to easily identify the root cause of operational issues.

  • Inbuilt protection to help identify malware status and missing system updates. Collect security related events and perform forensic, audit and breach analysis.

OMS works with existing infrastructure, including System Center 2012 R2, to manage current environments. To support future needs, we will bring additional functionality to OMS, including management for Azure Stack and integration with System Center 2016. OMS will also expand to cloud based patching, inventory, container management and more.  Learn more about this new release at


Microsoft Azure Stack Announce

Microsoft is the only cloud vendor that builds and runs its own hyper-scale datacenters and delivers that technology back to customers. We are infusing our experience into our hybrid cloud technology through battle-hardened cloud infrastructure and integration of Azure design points for greater consistency between Azure and customers’ datacenters. We are bringing the next wave of this innovation to our customers with Microsoft Azure Stack.

Built on the same core technology as Azure, Microsoft Azure Stack designed to bring Azure to your datacenter for the deployment of enterprise and modern applications at any scale. Azure Stack enables IT professionals to transition from traditional IT control methods to providing users and developers access the tools they need when they need them, while still maintaining central control.  

  • Empowering users and developers with a consistent, self-service cloud experience: Azure Stack brings the ease of cloud application deployment to the on-premises datacenter, supporting the same experience as Azure with Azure Resource Manager (ARM) templates (made available in preview last week at BUILD). ARM templates provide a gateway through the Azure portal for seamless service delivery across Azure and datacenters, reducing friction in the hybrid environment. Users can deploy workloads to Azure or on-premises based on business requirements, focusing on the application itself rather than the infrastructure. Azure Stack enables access to many of the same Azure IaaS and PaaS services on-premises, with the same intuitive self-service experience they would have with Azure. Azure Stack also empowers developers to innovate faster and on their terms by providing access to the broadest set of development tools and platforms.

  • Improving flexibility with cloud-inspired software defined infrastructure: Azure Stack extends Microsoft’s investments in the software-defined datacenter across compute, software-defined storage, software-defined networking, and software-defined security. These innovations provide a flexible and more secure datacenter architecture

  • Speeding time to value with simplified deployment: The deployment and configuration of private and hybrid clouds can be daunting and resource-intensive. Azure Stack will offer a simplified deployment and configuration experience.

Customers will be able to take advantage of the first Azure Stack features in preview this summer.  For more information, visit


Azure ExpressRoute and O365 partner announce

We recently announced that Office 365 customers will be able to use Azure ExpressRoute to establish a private, managed connection to Office 365. This is something our customers have been asking for since ExpressRoute launched last year. At Ignite, we will be announcing that we expect availability in CY15Q3 and will also have information on a few partners who’re working with to enable this capability.


Azure IaaS Announcements

  • Azure DNS Public Preview: Azure Domain Name System (DNS) allows you to host your domains alongside your Azure apps. By hosting your domains in Azure, you can manage your DNS records using your existing Azure subscription. The global Microsoft network of name servers has the reach, scale, and redundancy needed to ensure ultra-fast DNS responses and ultra-high availability for your domains.

  • User Defined Routing: Users can now define custom routes in their Virtual Networks to control how traffic flows in their networks. Azure now allows customers to override the default static routing policy which enables a number of Virtual Appliance scenarios such as ‘NAT’ing, ‘Application firewall’, ‘Bring your own gateway’, ‘Intrusion protection systems’ and ‘Intrusion detection systems’. It will now be possible to run sophisticated network topologies in the cloud, which mirrors the setup in on-premises.

  • Azure Standard VPN Gateway: We’re announcing a new Azure Virtual Private Network (VPN) Gateway that allows you to connect your VNet via both ExpressRoute and site-to-site VPN. It also provides higher throughput for ExpressRoute than the current dynamic routing VPN gateway.

  • Multiple VIPs per Cloud Service: Now customers can get more than one load-balanced public IP address assigned to a set of virtual machines (VMs), enabling high-availability and high-scale scenarios. This enables scenarios such as hosting of multiple secure websites in a cloud service or allow multiple SQL Server AlwaysOn Availability Group listeners access to the same set of VMs.

  • Azure ExpressRoute, S2S, P2S co-exist GA: We will be announcing the ability for customers to use ExpressRoute and Site-to-Site VPN simultaneously on the same virtual network. This enables customers to set up highly available cross-premises connections by using one as a failover for the other. In order for customers to use this capability, they will have to use the High-performance VPN gateway or the new Standard VPN gateway.

  • Azure ExpressRoute Premium Add-on: For Azure ExpressRoute customers who require a large number of Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) routes, global connectivity, or more Azure Virtual Network (VNet) links per circuit, we’ve introduced the ExpressRoute Premium add-on package. This add-on can be applied over the ExpressRoute Network Service Provider or Exchange Provider circuits, increasing the limit for public and private peering from 4,000 to 10,000 routes. In addition, the ExpressRoute Premium add-on provides global connectivity (for example, a VNet created in West Europe can be accessed through an ExpressRoute circuit provisioned in the West US region), while now allowing more than 10 VNet links per ExpressRoute circuit, with the exact limit depending on circuit bandwidth. For more information, please visit the ExpressRoute Technical Overview documentation webpage.

  • Azure Network Virtual Appliance Partner Solutions: Network Virtual Appliances in Azure will include a slew of industry-leading appliances such as load balancers, WAN optimizers and network security appliances. We will be announcing partnerships with industry leaders such as Cisco, Citrix, CheckPoint, Barracuda, F5, RriverBed, Ngnix and Fortinet at Ignite and we will be featuring their solutions in the Azure Marketplace. These solutions will give, customers greater flexibility in building their applications along with a higher degree of control on the networking topologies.

  • VM Volume Encryption for Windows and Linux: Integrated with KeyVault, VM volume encryption will let customers encrypt their Virtual Machine volumes including the boot and data volumes. Customers can manage their encryption keys using KeyVault while ensuring all the data in the VM volumes is encrypted at rest in customer storage accounts. This feature will be demonstrated at Ignite and will be shortly available thereafter in preview.

  • VM Scale Set Public Preview: Through a feature called VM Scale sets, customers will be able to do set-based operations such as create/delete/update on a group of identical VMs (e.g 1000’s of VMs) through a single API. Since all VMs in a VM Scale set have the same configuration, it supports rapid autoscaling of VMs. It also helps with image patching across a set of VMs. VM Scale sets are ideally suited for building hyper-scale services targeting big compute, big data, containerized workloads and supports both windows and Linux.


Azure Storage Announcements

  • Azure Storage: C++ 1.0.0 GA: We’ve just released the GA version (v1.0.0) of the Microsoft Azure Storage Client Library for C++. The Azure Storage Client Library for C++ provides a comprehensive C++ API for working with Azure storage including the ability to:

    • Create, read, delete, and list blob containers, tables, and queues.

    • Create, read, delete, list, and copy blobs plus read and write blob ranges.

    • Insert, delete, replace, merge, and query entities in an Azure table.

    • Enqueue and dequeue messages in an Azure queue.

    • Lazily list containers, blobs, tables, and queues, and lazily query entities (new in version 1.0.0)

      Start using these features now by downloading the nuget package, or find the source code at GitHub.

      To get started with the Azure Storage Client Library for C++, please see the following documentation: How to use Blob Storage from C++, How to use Table Storage from C++, and How to use Queue Storage from C++. To see what’s new in version 1.0.0, see the Change Log in GitHub.

  • Client-Side Encryption for Azure Storage Preview: A frequent request we’ve had from customers is to provide an easy way to encrypt their data before sending it to Azure Storage. We’ve listened, and we’re excited to announce the public preview of client-side encryption in the Azure Storage client library for .NET. You can use client-side encryption to encrypt blob data, table data (you select the properties to encrypt), and queue messages. Client-side encryption also integrates with Azure Key Vault and allows for integrating with other key management systems if you prefer.

    Client-side encryption uses envelope encryption methods to maintain great performance. In most cases, you can take advantage of client-side encryption by adding just a few lines of code to your application. Unlike server-side encryption, this new feature gives users complete control over the keys used for encryption. Azure Storage never sees your keys, so it can’t decrypt your data.

    Please inform customers to start using client-side encryption now by downloading the latest .NET client library.

  • Xamarin Storage Client Library: We are pleased to announce an Azure Storage client library preview for Xamarin!  Xamarin allows developers to use a shared C# codebase to create iOS, Android, and Windows Store apps with native user interfaces. Customers can start building Xamarin apps that use Azure Storage now by downloading the latest .NET client library.

  • New Storage Blob type: Append Blob: Append Blob is a new blob type (alongside our existing Block and Page blobs) that is optimized for fast append operations, making it ideal for scenarios that add data to an existing blob without modifying the existing contents of that blob, such as logging and auditing. Visit Introducing Azure Storage Append Blob blog for more information.


Public preview of Microsoft Advanced Threat Analytics (ATA

We are pleased to announce the public preview of Microsoft Advanced Threat Analytics (ATA), a product based on Microsoft’s recent acquisition of Aorato, an innovator in enterprise security. Microsoft Advanced Threat Analytics is an on-premises product to help IT organizations protect their enterprise from advanced targeted attacks by automatically analyzing, learning, and identifying normal and abnormal entity (user, devices, and resources) behavior through Active Directory, the identity management technology used by most enterprises. It also detects known malicious attacks and security issues using security research work. ATA provides clear and relevant threat information on a simple convenient feed, helping IT security professionals to focus on what is important.  You can learn more by visiting the Microsoft Advanced Threat Analytics page.  Read today’s blog post from our engineering team.


Support for Windows 10 with System Center Configuration Manager and Microsoft Intune

In this increasingly mobile-first world, Windows 10 is evolving to deliver updates on a rapid cloud cadence, offering best-in-class experiences across PCs, tablets, and mobile devices. To support this evolution, we plan to offer the leading mobile-first, cloud-first management capabilities for Windows 10 with System Center Configuration Manager and Microsoft Intune.

  • System Center Configuration Manager Technical Preview: Today, we are making available the System Center Configuration Manager Technical Preview. This preview provides an early glimpse of the functionality that we are planning to make generally available in Q4 of this calendar year to deliver full support for Windows 10 deployment, upgrade, and management.

  • System Center 2012 R2 Configuration Manager SP1 and System Center 2012 Configuration Manager SP2: Next week, we will be making available System Center 2012 R2 Configuration Manager SP1 and System Center 2012 Configuration Manager SP2 to provide full compatibility with existing features for Windows 10 deployment, upgrade and management. Read more about System Center Configuration Manager support for Windows 10.

  • Microsoft Intune: Intune has also been updated to provide support for Windows 10 management with incremental support for new Windows 10 features to be added over the coming months. Read more about Intune support for Windows 10.


Microsoft Intune Conditional Access and Mobile Application Management for the Outlook app

This quarter, Intune will enable customers to restrict access to the Outlook app based upon device enrollment and compliance policies as well as restrict actions such as cut, copy, paste, and save as between the Intune-managed Outlook app and personal apps.  Stay tuned to the Intune blog for more information on this feature when it becomes generally available. 


Azure Active Directory Announcements

  • Azure AD Cloud App Discovery:  In the next month Azure AD will enable customers to identify cloud apps being used in a customer’s IT environment revealing shadow IT.  Read more from our engineering team about Cloud App Discovery.

  • Public preview of Azure AD Privileged Identity Management: Enables customers to discover, restrict and monitor privileged accounts and their access to resources and enforce on-demand temporary administrative access when needed. Azure AD Privileged Identity Management is available in Azure AD Premium. Read more from our engineering team about Privileged Identity Management.


Public preview of Azure Rights Management Document Tracking

Enables customers to track activities on sensitive files that they have shared with others. With a single click, users can also revoke access to shared files.  Read more from our engineering team about Document Tracking.


SQL Server 2016 & Pub Preview in summer 2015 announce

Today Microsoft formally announced the planned release of SQL Server 2016.  In addition Microsoft also announced the upcoming release of Community Technology Preview (CTP2) of Microsoft SQL Server 2016 coming this summer.  This is the first public CTP of the release.  CTP2 is not a feature complete build, but does offer several of the new capabilities announced as part of SQL Server 2016.  Customers can test and provide feedback on CTP2 as we drive toward the release of SQL Server 2016.

SQL Server 2016 delivers breakthrough mission-critical capabilities with in-memory performance and operational analytics built-in. Comprehensive security with new Always Encrypted technology protects your data at rest and in motion, and a world class high availability and disaster recovery solution adds new enhancements to AlwaysOn technology.

Organizations will gain deeper insights into all of their data with new capabilities that go beyond business intelligence to perform advanced analytics directly within their database and present rich visualizations for business insights on any device.

You can also gain the benefits of hyper-scale cloud with new hybrid scenarios enabled by new Stretch Database technology that lets you dynamically and securely stretch your warm and cold transactional data to Microsoft Azure so your data is always at hand for queries, no matter the size. In addition, SQL Server 2016 delivers a complete database platform for hybrid cloud, enabling you to easily build, deploy and manage solutions that span on-premises and cloud.

Learn more by visiting the SQL Server 2016 preview page.


Power BI Mobile App for Windows 8 Desktop & Surface

The Power BI app for Windows 8 Desktop and Surface will be available in public preview for download from the Windows Store. The app allows Windows 8 Desktop and Surface users to easily monitor and access their data stored in the Power BI service anywhere, anytime. Users will be able to explore live dashboards and reports natively, invite colleagues to view dashboards, share dashboard and report snapshots by email, and add annotations to mark and explain specific reports and insights. Learn more about the Power BI app for Windows 8 Desktop and Surface, and download the app starting on 05/07 here.


Power BI Partner Integration

For Power BI we showed a sneak peek of upcoming Power BI integration with Cortana as well as with Office 365 for system admin reporting. We will provide more detailed information for these capabilities as we approach feature availability. We also announced the availability of three new Power BI content packs providing prepackaged support for Google Analytics, Dynamics Marketing, and Visual Studio Online. We also announced additional content packs in development by our SaaS partners which will be made available in the coming months, including:  appFigures, MailChimp, Adobe Analytics, SpaceCurve, SQL Sentry, and SweetIQ. In addition, Power BI will extend support for Big Data sources through support for Simba Technology’s ODBC Big Data connectors which provide data support for Cloudera Impala, Red Shift, Mongo DB, Couchbase and others. Simba Technology’s ODBC data connector can be acquired from Simba Technologies and will interoperate with Power BI in the coming weeks. Additional information for these announcements are available on the Power BI blog.