Cloud Platform Release Announcements for September 2, 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:

  • GS-Series virtual machines, D-series price reductions, and more
  • Advanced Threat Analytics (ATA) General Availability
  • Revolution R Enterprise in Azure Marketplace Public Preview
  • SQL Server 2016 CTP 2.3 Public Preview
  • Announcement of the new JDBC 4.2 for SQL Server Driver
  • Visual Studio 2012 Updates 5 General Availability
  • New Power BI content packs for Adobe Analytics and Azure Mobile Engagement
  • Azure SQL Database – P11 Offer General Availability
  • Azure SQL Database Elastic Database Basic and Premium tiers in public preview

GS-Series virtual machines, D-series price reductions, and more

Today we’re excited to announce a variant of G-series, the GS-series, which combines the compute power of G-series with the performance of Premium Storage to create powerful VMs for your most storage and compute intensive applications. Powered by the Intel Xeon E5 v3 family processors, the GS-series can have up to 64TB of storage, provide 80,000 IOPs (storage I/Os per second) and deliver 2,000 MBps of storage throughput. The GS-series offers the highest disk throughput performance, by more than double, of any VM type offered by any hyperscale public cloud provider. Furthermore, both the G-series and GS-series offer up to 20 Gbps of network bandwidth, more than double that of the closest VMs of any hyperscale public cloud provider.

While the GS-series will provide you the largest VMs and the fastest storage in the public cloud, the D-series and DS-series in Azure provide a good combination of CPU performance, memory and local SSD for most common workloads. We’re continuously striving to make these more accessible at lower price points, and are pleased to announce today that we’re reducing the prices on D-series and DS-series instances by as much as 27%. The price changes will take effect on October 1st.

We also announced the ability to diagnose boot-up issues with VMs running Windows or Linux, and a new Service Bus tier called the Azure Service Bus Premium Messaging.

Please read the Azure blog for more information.

Advanced Threat Analytics (ATA) General Availability

Cybersecurity is no longer a subject just for IT. From the datacenter to the board room, it’s become a widespread concern as the frequency of the attacks continues to grow. There’s a lot at stake: customer privacy, brand reputation, and possibly significant financial loss.

We understand how much pain these security threats cause your organization. In order to help you identify these advanced attacks before they cause damage, we previewed a new cyber-security product, Microsoft Advanced Threat Analytics (ATA), back in May 2015.

Leveraging User and Entity Behavioral Analytics (UEBA), this innovative technology is designed to help you identify a key blind spot: suspicious user and entity activity. It also helps to identify known malicious attacks, security issues, and risks using security researchers’ work regionally and globally.

We are excited to let you know that Microsoft Advanced Threat Analytics is now generally available! You can download the evaluation bits and implement ATA in your organization. To learn more about this release, please read this blog post.

Revolution R Enterprise in Azure Marketplace Public Preview

Revolution R Enterprise 7.4.1 (RRE) is now available as a technical preview on Microsoft Azure for both Windows and Linux virtual machines in the Azure Marketplace. This release in Azure Marketplace is the first step in Microsoft’s plan to integrate Revolution R Enterprise with the Azure Analytics products, including HDInsight, Machine Learning, and Stream Analytics.

Through the Azure Marketplace, users can run computations on data sets up to 1 terabyte on cloud-based Windows and Linux multi-CPU instances from 4 to 32 vCPUs (virtual CPUs), accessing data copied from an Azure data store, including blob storage or SQL Server, or accessed directly through an ODBC connection. Utility pricing for both versions starts at $1.50 per 4-cores per hour with no long-term commitments. During this preview period RRE users will be supported through a monitored Azure forum.

The Windows version of RRE is accessed with Windows Remote Desktop and includes Revolution’s Visual Studio-based IDE for R developers (Revolution R Enterprise DevelopR). Access to the Linux version of RRE is via SSH with R access through the RGui. Alternatively, customers have the option of bringing their own license for a favorite IDE such as RStudio, or RStudio Server, or StatET.

A 30-day free trial is available with no software charge, though standard Azure cloud usage charges still apply. Get your free trial of RRE in Azure Marketplace.

SQL Server 2016 CTP 2.3 Public Preview

The SQL Server 2016 Community Technology Preview (CTP) 2.3 is now available for download!

In SQL Server 2016 CTP 2.3, part of our new rapid preview model, we have made enhancements to several features that customers can try in their SQL Server 2016 development and test environments.

In SQL Server 2016 CTP 2.3, available for download today, customers will see enhancements in several key areas:

  • Row Level Security support for in-memory OLTP tables
  • A core engine scalability improvement, dynamically partitioning thread safe memory objects by NUMA or CPU, which enables higher scalability
  • In-memory data warehouse (column tore) performance optimizations
  • Many-to-many derived hierarchies in Master Data Services
  • Several performance improvements to SQL Server Analysis Services, including DAX query performance

For additional details, please visit the detailed SQL Server 2016 CTP 2.3 Engineering blog.

Learn more about setting up a SQL Server 2016 CTP 2.3 preview test environment today! To experience the new, exciting features in SQL Server 2016 and the new rapid release model, download the preview or try the preview by using a virtual machine in Microsoft Azure and start evaluating the impact these new innovations can have for your business.

Announcing the new JDBC 4.2 for SQL Server Driver

We are pleased to announce availability of the Microsoft JDBC 4.2 Driver for SQL Server! The updated driver provides robust data access to Microsoft SQL Server and Microsoft Azure SQL Database for Java-based applications.

The JDBC Driver for SQL Server is a Java Database Connectivity (JDBC) type 4 driver that implements full compliance with the JDBC specifications 4.1 and 4.2 and supports Java Development Kit (JDK) version 1.8. There are several additional enhancements available with the driver:

  • The updated XA Transaction feature includes new timeout options for automatic rollback of unprepared transactions.
  • New SQLServerBulkCopy class enables developers to quickly copy large amounts of data into tables or views in SQL Server and Azure SQL Database databases from other databases. For more details about what is currently supported in the bulk copy feature preview, please refer to What’s New in the JDBC driver.

The JDBC driver is part of SQL Server and the Microsoft Data Platform’s wider interoperability program, with drivers for PHP 5.6, Node.js, JDBC, ODBC and ADO.NET already available.

Customers can download the JDBC 4.2 driver here.

Visual Studio 2012 Updates 5 GA

In Team Foundation Server 2015 we introduced a new feature Team Project Rename. This update for Visual Studio 2012 is primarily focused on the ability to update local workspaces after a team project is renamed. If you are using Visual Studio 2012 and have updated to Team Foundation Server 2015, you should consider installing this update.

New Power BI content packs for Adobe Analytics and Azure Mobile Engagement

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 experience. This month we added content packs for Adobe Analytics and Azure Mobile Engagement. Adobe Analytics is part of the Adobe Marketing Cloud and can be used to analyze your customer data. You can view where your visitors are coming from, what days they come the most frequently, and how long they’re staying as well as several metrics based on e-commerce data, CRM attributes, engagement, etc. Now you can use Power BI to monitor, explore and visualize your Adobe Analytics data. With an out-of-box content pack, you can connect and discover insights from your data immediately.

Azure Mobile Engagement is an app analytics service that allows developers to track their application’s performance helping them increase retention and app usage. Using the Power BI Azure Mobile Engagement content pack you can quickly connect to an out-of-box dashboard, a set of reports and a curated data set, and instantly get insights into how well your app is doing.

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

Azure SQL Database – P11 Offer Generally Available
Pricing | SQL Database webpage

As more customers build more powerful applications in Azure using Azure SQL Database, we’ve seen strong demand for more options to scale both performance and database size. To help meet this demand, we’ve announced two new performance levels within our Premium service tier: P4 and P11.

P4 makes it easier for customers to scale performance with more granularity, while P11 offers greater performance and larger database size. And, as previously announced, the P6 offering is now available to replace P3, with no impact to database cost or service.

Customers who create or assign performance levels in code or scripts can visit the Create Database documentation webpage for more information.

One of the advantages of running SQL Database on Azure is the ability to dynamically change database performance to adapt to changing workload demands. These new performance levels help you to scale your performance and to meet the demands of your application workloads.

Azure SQL Database Elastic Database Basic and Premium tiers in public preview
Pricing | SQL Database webpage

Elastic databases support SaaS applications that have many databases and unpredictable database resource demands. Now you can use the flexibility of elastic databases to support both explosive growth and competitive SaaS business models. Instead of overprovisioning databases to meet peak demand, you can combine elastic databases in a pool where a large number of them leverage the same resources, all within a budget that you control. This can be much more efficient than dedicating resources to each database individually—and that can mean cost savings.

Now in public preview, the Basic tier enables small, less demanding databases to be combined in a pool, while the Premium tier allows larger, more demanding databases to be pooled. In addition to the public preview release of Basic and Premium, we have increased the maximum database per pool for the Standard tier from 100 database to 200 databases.

For more information about elastic databases, please visit the Tame explosive growth with elastic databases documentation webpage.