Cloud Platform Release Announcements for June 24, 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:

  • Announcing the Limited Public Preview of Azure SQL Data Warehouse

  • Azure AD Connect and Connect Health are generally available

  • Azure Application Gateway generally available

  • SQL Server 2016 CTP 2.1 now available

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

  • New Microsoft Power BI Content Pack and connector generally available

  • Key Vault is now generally available across all regions (except Australia)


Announcing the Limited Public Preview of Azure SQL Data Warehouse

Azure SQL Data Warehouse is a fully managed, elastic and petabyte-scale columnar data-warehouse service that’s fully compatible and integrated with the Microsoft SQL Server and BI ecosystem. Unique to the industry, this is the first cloud data-warehouse service to enables you to scale compute capacity up or down in seconds. SQL Data Warehouse can independently scale storage and compute power, so you pay only for the query performance they need. Built on top of SQL Server, SQL Data Warehouse offers access to a large data-warehouse ecosystem of tools that support data loading, transformation, visualization, and analytical scenarios—including Microsoft Power BI, Azure HDInsight, Machine Learning, and Data Factory, as well as supporting hybrid implementations of modern data warehousing. SQL Data Warehouse, together with Microsoft’s on-premises massively parallel processing (MPP) modern data warehouse, the Analytics Platform System (APS), offer customers a choice: in the cloud, on-premises or both.

The initial public preview will target data warehouses in the 5-10 TB range to give you the ability to start testing and providing feedback on the service. Participation in the preview will be limited based on capacity so customers will first request access to the preview and access will be approved based on availability.  Additional customers will be onboarded as capacity increases.  To learn more about our ecosystem of partners, click here

To learn more, click here.


Azure AD Connect and Connect Health are generally available

Azure Active Directory Connect, the simple, fast and lightweight tool to connect Active Directory and Azure Active Directory in a few clicks is now generally available. Azure AD Connect will guide you to synchronize only the data you really need from single or multi-forest environments and will enable single sign on via password sync or federation with AD FS to Office 365 and thousands of other SaaS applications. Organizations already using older sync tools can take advantage of the benefits of Azure AD Connect with migration or in place upgrade from supported configurations.

Also generally available, 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 future releases

 Learn more for Azure AD Connect here and for Azure AD Connect Health here


Azure Application Gateway generally available

Azure Application Gateway provides application-level routing and load balancing services to enable you to build a scalable and highly-available web frontend in Azure. You control the size of the gateway, and can scale your deployment based on your needs. This is useful for large web hosting environments and supports both private and public websites.  Go here for more information.


SQL Server 2016 CTP 2.1 now available

With the release of SQL Server 2016 Community Technology Preview (CTP) 2.1, customers can for this first time experience the rapid preview model for their on-premises SQL Server 2016 development and test environments.  This new rapid release model born in the cloud means customers don’t have to wait for traditional CTPs that are released after several months for the latest updates from Microsoft engineering, and can gain a faster time to production.  The frequent updates are also engineered to be of the same quality as traditional major CTPs, so customers don’t have to be concerned about build quality.  In addition, customers have the flexibility to choose which CTP they will deploy for the development and test environment and are not forced to upgrade to the most recent preview release. 

Be sure to visit the SQL Server 2016 preview page to get access to the latest CTPs and learn more about SQL Server 2016.  To learn more about the specific improvements included in CTP 2.1, please view the SQL Server 2016 Community Technology Preview 2.1 blog

In addition to the new CTP model, SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS) is now being offered as a stand-alone install outside of the SQL Server release.  This means Azure SQL database customers can use SSMS for the new features being released in cloud as well as their on-premises SQL Server.  SSMS as a standalone tool will also follow the rapid preview model with frequent updates to keep pace with the new features being released in Azure SQL Database.  Customers can download the first Preview release of the standalone SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS) June 2015 Preview, here.


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

On June 18th, we announced that with Microsoft Intune you can now restrict access to the Outlook app based upon device enrollment and compliance policies and can restrict actions such as cut, copy, paste, and “save as” between the Intune-managed Outlook app and personal apps. Additionally, the Intune-managed Outlook app now includes a new multi-identity feature that enables users to access both their personal and work email accounts in the same Outlook app while Intune mobile application management (MAM) policies are only applied to the user’s work email account.

Several other Intune features were also released in June, including the addition of multi-identity support for the Word, PowerPoint, and OneDrive apps for iOS devices. You can view the full list of Intune features that were released by visiting the Intune blog.


New Microsoft Power BI Content Pack and connector generally available

Power BI continues to make it easier for users to connect to their data, providing pre-built solutions for popular services as part of the Power BI experience. This month we add content pack for SweetIQ. The content pack brings in data about your listings, locations, ratings and reviews from SweetIQ.  Subscribers to this supported service can now quickly connect to their account from Power BI and see their data through live dashboards and interactive reports that have been pre-built for them.

We are also announcing the availability of Azure SQL Data Warehouse connector in Power BI. This connector will allow users to connect directly to their data in Azure SQL Data Warehouse and build live reports over big data scenarios.

Getting started with data visualization and analysis has never been easier, for additional information visit the Power BI blog.


Key Vault generally available

Key Vault enables you to store and control cryptographic keys and other secrets used by cloud applications. With Key Vault, you can centrally manage your keys and secrets—taking them out of vulnerable locations like source code and plain text files. You can safeguard those keys and secrets using FIPS-validated hardware security modules (HSMs). Key Vault enables you to manage the full lifecycle of your keys and secrets, and to grant applications controlled and audited access to those keys and secrets, helping you achieve and maintain regulatory compliance.

You can use Key Vault within applications you develop, as well as with applications that are pre-integrated with Key Vault. Using Key Vault, you can centrally manage master keys used by CloudLink SecureVM for VM encryption, by Brocade’s SteelApp traffic manager for TLS, and by the upcoming Azure Disk Encryption feature for disk encryption. You will also soon be able to use Key Vault to manage keys used by SQL Server for database encryption. You can deploy certificates to your Azure VMs from your key vault, and manage those certificates separately from the VM image. Applications you write with the latest Azure Storage SDK can encrypt data automatically with a master key in your key vault. Other applications from Microsoft and its partners will be integrated with Key Vault in the coming months.

Key Vault is available across all regions except Australia (where it will be coming soon). Learn more about Key Vault here. Get a deeper look with this video. When you’re ready to start coding, watch the developer quick start.