Cloud Platform Release Announcements for December 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:

  • PowerApps limited preview
  • Azure App Service: Mobile Apps generally available
  • Azure Content Delivery Network Premium generally available
  • Azure Portal generally available
  • Azure Container Service gated preview
  • Introducing predictive maintenance preconfigured solution for Azure IoT Suite
  • HPE launches new hyper converged solution for Cloud Platform System Standard
  • Azure Security Center public preview
  • Preview Power BI integration with Cortana
  • Power BI Desktop November update now available
  • Power BI Excel Tiles generally available
  • Power BI introduces new Quick Insights feature for automatic detection of patterns and trends in your data
  • Power BI Content Packs Project Online and ProjectPlace generally available
  • Power BI for developers API update
  • Microsoft Power BI gateway for enterprise deployments available in preview
  • SQL Server 2016 Community Technology Preview 3.1 public preview
  • SQL Server 2012 Service Pack 3 generally available

PowerApps limited preview

Microsoft PowerApps enables everyone in your company to create new experiences that do more with your data and run on any device. Unlock the value of your existing systems and data by giving your employees the ability to access information in the way they need to be more productive and drive your business. For business users and developers alike, PowerApps makes it easy to quickly create new apps, connect your systems and share apps with anyone on your team. Build the apps your business demands at the pace it demands—in a secure and reliable way.

PowerApps benefits the entire organization:

  • Business users: Create, connect, and share apps quickly with anyone on your team
  • Developers: Continue to create native web and mobile apps and APIs with Azure App Service to expose data to empower everyone to innovate on their own
  • IT professionals: Manage data and app sharing in a controlled and secure way
  • Business leaders: Get more value out your existing investments and improve business agility by empowering everyone in your organization to innovate

PowerApps is the enterprise software service for innovators everywhere to connect, create and share business apps.
We’re eager to have you experience PowerApps, currently available in a limited preview. Please visit powerapps.com and register to access the service as it becomes broadly available.

Learn more and register for the limited preview of PowerApps at powerapps.com.

Additional information also available by Bill Staples on the Official Microsoft Blog and Scott Hanselman on hanselman.com.

Learn how to get started developing APIs and connectors for PowerApps with Azure App Service on Channel 9.

Azure App Service: Mobile Apps generally available

Pricing | Azure Mobile Apps

Azure App Service Mobile Apps have now entered general availability and are now fully supported with a 99.95 SLA. Azure App Service Mobile Apps allow you to build engaging iOS, Android, and Windows apps featuring:

  • Broadcast push notifications capable of sending millions of push notifications to iOS, Android, Windows, or Nokia X devices within seconds.
  • Enterprise single sign-on with Active Directory allows you to securely connect to on-premises resources like SAP, Oracle, SQL Server, and SharePoint; and leverage cross-platform frameworks like Xamarin and PhoneGap to build enterprise-grade apps for your employees.
  • Autoscale to support millions of devices allows you to spin up/down resources based actual usage and pay only for what you need. With access to the global network of Microsoft managed data centers, you can reach users anywhere in the world.
  • Offline support for your mobile apps with data sync allows you to easily provide a native sync experience across your iOS, Android, and Windows apps, improving app responsiveness by caching server data locally on the device.
  • Connect your apps to on-premises data to build mobile apps that can consume data from your own data center. With Hybrid Connections and VPN, it’s easy to access your data securely from your on-premises data centers, anywhere in the world.

While Mobile Services will continue to be available as a standalone, fully supported service you can learn how to migrate your existing Mobile Service to a Mobile App in the Azure Mobile Apps documentation.

For more information about the capabilities available, please check out the Azure Mobile Apps documentation.

Azure Content Delivery Network Premium generally available

Pricing | Azure CDN

Azure Content Delivery Network Premium is an expansion of the existing service, offering a set of new premium features including:

  • Rules Engine: Provides highly granular control over how requests are processed by the CDN
  • Advanced Content Analytics: Provides multiple advanced analytic modules enabling deep insight into CDN activity, performance, efficiency, and real time statistics

This offer is designed for cloud platform users with simple billing through a single price point rather than multiple line items. The existing offer is now known as CDN Standard. CDN Premium also includes everything available in the standard offer—support for external origin, content purging, country filtering, compression, query string caching and core analytics. Additionally, Azure CDN has new delivery regions/POPs in Australia, South America, and India.
For more information about the capabilities available, please check out the Azure CDN documentation.

Azure Portal generally available

Azure portal is now available with improved performance and productivity enhancements Numerous enhancements to the Azure portal make it easier and faster for you to discover, create, and manage Azure resources. For a personalized experience, you can add, resize, move, remove, duplicate, and configure tiles in the dashboard and resource blades. All Azure services are now listed in the portal, and with improved search, you can easily find the resources you need. You can also quickly move resources between resource groups or subscriptions on your own. An enhanced integrated support experience makes the portal a truly unified hub for all Azure services.

Some name changes have also taken place in the portal. It no longer carries the “preview” tag—it’s now the primary Azure portal. The portal previously referred to as the “Azure management portal” has been renamed “Azure classic portal” and will continue to be available to users. You can find deep links to easily navigate from the classic portal and the portal. For more information about the portal enhancements and roadmap, please read the Azure blog, as well as discover them in the portal.

Azure Container Service gated preview

The Azure Container Service is an open source container scheduling and orchestration service which builds on our partnerships with both Docker and Mesosphere, as well as our contributions to open source projects in this space. This service leverages both Docker and Apache Mesos in order to deliver an open source environment for running container workloads.

The Azure Container Service uses open source components from their DCOS offering including DCOS Marathon (for launching and scaling container based applications) and Chronos (for distributed cron and batch workloads). Additionally, many of our customers are excited to deploy Docker containers using Docker Swarm and Docker Compose. In continuing our partnership with Docker, the Azure Container Service will also have the ability to deploy, scale and orchestrate Swarm based solutions as well. Learn more on the Azure Container Services documentation page.

Introducing predictive maintenance preconfigured solution for Azure IoT Suite

Microsoft Azure IoT Suite helps you capture and analyze untapped device data to improve results across your business. With preconfigured solutions, you can quickly and confidently get started with a solution that is tailored to meet your business needs, then scale your Internet of Things (IoT) projects across your company.

In addition to the remote monitoring preconfigured solution we introduced on September 28, 2015, today, we’re announcing availability of predictive maintenance preconfigured solution. Learn how this new preconfigured solution can help you anticipate maintenance needs and avoid unscheduled downtime.

Get started with Azure IoT Suite to capture and analyze untapped data and transform your business.

HPE launches new hyper converged solution for Cloud Platform System Standard

At the HP Discover event in London, HPE will launch the Hyper Converged 250 for Microsoft Cloud Platform System Standard (CS 250). The CS 250 extends the CPS product line to HPE hardware and provides industry’s first “hyper-converged” integrated system with true hybrid cloud capabilities. The fully integrated CS 250 solution goes beyond traditional virtualization solutions to bring Azure services right to your datacenter. A self-service cloud environment with services and automation help users quickly deploy the Windows and Linux apps they need to increase business agility and still maintain the central control. With Azure services for backup and disaster recovery, your workloads are better protected, even in the face of disaster. This software-defined and scalable solution can be up and running in a matter of hours, and allows you to start small and scale up or down as your business needs evolve. The CS 250 is available to order today. Learn more at Microsoft.com/cps.

Azure Security Center public preview

Azure Security Center helps you prevent, detect and respond to security threats with increased visibility and control over the security of your deployments across Azure. Azure Security Center provides visibility into the security state of your Azure resources. It also enables you to set security policies for resources to help you maintain and improve the level of security by deploying, configuring, and managing security controls from Microsoft and its partners.

Azure Security Center helps detect advanced threats with analytics-driven detection. Its machine learning combines information from the global threat landscape that Microsoft observes, with activity happening in your Azure deployments, to help you see real threats – and fewer false alarms. Azure Security Center helps you build a comprehensive view of your total security posture by exporting security logs to your existing SIEM solution. No other public cloud provider offers this combination of integrated visibility, control, and advanced detection.

Azure Security Center is in public preview now. Learn more here.

Preview Power BI integration with Cortana

Today we announce an exciting enhancement to the Cortana Analytics Suite with the preview of Power BI integration with Cortana.

With Power BI we continue to find new ways to simplify how people analyze and gain insight from data, providing industry leading features such as for natural language query. Natural language query provides users with an easier way to interact with their data, allowing them to type questions of their data and receive answers in the form of live visualizations. Power BI integration with Cortana allows you to now ask these question directly from Cortana and to have answers from your Power BI data surfaced to you by Cortana. These data driven answers can range from simple numeric values (“revenue for the last quarter”), charts (“revenue over time”), maps (“revenue by region”) or data represented through any of the other Power BI data visualizations.

Combined with the Cortana Analytics Suite, this opens up amazing new opportunities to use Cortana to enable your business, and your customers’ businesses, to get things done in more helpful, proactive, and natural ways.

Find out more about the preview of Power BI integration with Cortana on the Power BI blog.

Power BI Desktop November update now available

We are excited to announce the Power BI Desktop November update is now available. This November update includes a number of new features including:

  • The ability to get R data into Power BI Desktop
  • Support for MOLAP (preview)
  • Support for SAP Hana (preview)
  • Azure Data Lake connector
  • Time intelligence features

For more information and to download the latest Power BI Desktop, check out our recent post on the Power BI blog.

Power BI Excel Tiles generally available

Users can take their existing Excel workbooks, with the features and formatting they have learned to use and love over the years, and create dashboard tiles from within an embedded Excel workbook in Power BI. Pining capabilities include any Excel range containing charts, tables, Pivot tables, Pivot charts, and many other Excel features. The tiles are connected to the workbooks in OneDrive for Business, and are being refreshed automatically every few minutes.

Power BI introduces new Quick Insights feature for automatic detection of patterns and trends in your data

Power BI now provides new ways to help users find hidden insights in their data. The new Quick Insights feature allows a user to automatically scan and detect patterns and trends in the data that they load into Power BI. Through a partnership with Microsoft Research, the Quick Insights feature uses a growing list of algorithms to automatically discover and visualize correlations, outliers, trends, seasonality, change points in trends, and other factors in your data that may otherwise go undetected. To find out more, visit the Power BI blog.

Power BI Content Packs Project Online and ProjectPlace 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 experience. This month we added content packs for ProjectPlace by Planview and Microsoft Project Online.

ProjectPlace is a project collaboration solution that brings teams together to improve collaboration and get things done. With the ProjectPlace content pack, you can visualize your project data with out-of-box reports and dashboards to provide key project statistics, visualize progress, find bottlenecks, distinguish who your most active team members are, and identify at-risk activities across projects.

Microsoft Project Online is a flexible online solution for project portfolio management (PPM) and everyday work. By connecting Power BI with your existing Project Online account, your organization can prioritize project portfolio investments and deliver the intended business value by exploring your project data with out-of-the-box metrics such as overdue projects or a burndown of a current project work.

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.

Power BI for developers API update

Microsoft Power BI continues to offer great developer centric capabilities that allow developers to integrate their solutions with Power BI with ease and take advantage of the fully extensible platform by building custom visuals, content packs and connectors for their applications.

Microsoft Power BI report integration API and simplified App registration process are now available. The Power BI report integration API provides capability to integrate Power BI reports into applications. In order to use the Power BI APIs you first need to register an application with Azure Active Directory. This new simpler app registration process allows you to do this with only a few clicks.

In addition to these new releases, our growing set of Power BI APIs now includes:

  • Dataset API: For creating datasets and pushing data to Power BI
  • Groups API: For enumerating groups
  • Import API: For importing Power BI desktop and Microsoft Excel files to Power BI
  • Tile API: For enumerating and embedding tiles in applications
  • Dashboard API: For enumerating dashboards

We are pleased to share that we are seeing strong momentum around the Microsoft Power BI content packs and Power BI custom visuals. There has been a weekly addition of ISV content packs since early summer this year and the Microsoft Power BI service now has 36 ISV content packs. Our recently announced Microsoft Power BI visuals gallery now features 24 custom visuals and the gallery has been growing every week since launch with contribution from our developer community. Developers are taking advantage of the Power BI custom visuals GitHub project to get started faster.

For more information, please visit the Power BI blog or learn more at dev.powerbi.com.

Microsoft Power BI gateway for enterprise deployments available in preview

With Power BI gateways, you can keep your data fresh by connecting to on-premises data sources. The gateways provide the flexibility you need to meet individual needs, and the needs of your organization. The Power BI gateway for personal use is designed for use with personal data sets and allows you to refresh your on-premises data quickly without waiting for an IT Admin.

In addition to the Power BI gateway for personal use, which is already available today, we are now releasing a preview of the Power BI gateway for enterprise deployments. This gateway is used by organizations to serve a large number of users. The preview version includes direct query capabilities to SQL Server, the ability to add live connections to SQL Server Analysis Services is planned to be available shortly after the initial preview release. You can learn more about the preview release and download the Power BI gateways here.

SQL Server 2016 Community Technology Preview 3.1 public preview

SQL Server 2016 Community Technology Preview (CTP) 3.1 was released on Monday, November 30, 2015. In SQL Server 2016 CTP 3.1, part of our new rapid preview model, we have made enhancements to several features customers can try in their SQL Server 2016 development and test environments. In SQL Server 2016 CTP 3.1, customers will see enhancements in several areas:

  • New In-Memory OLTP improvements, including Unique indexes, LOB data types, and Indexes with NULLable key columns
  • Programmability improvement for the AT TIME ZONE clause
  • Enhancements to SQL Server Analysis Services
  • PowerPivot and SSRS/Power View are now available for Point Server 2016 Beta 2

Set up a SQL Server 2016 CTP 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.

SQL Server 2012 Service Pack 3 generally available

Microsoft is pleased to announce the release of SQL Server 2012 Service Pack 3. The Service Pack is available for download on the Microsoft Download Center; it will be available on MSDN, MAPS/MPN, MBS/Partner Source, and VLSC by December 9, 2015. As part of our continued commitment to software excellence for our customers, this upgrade is available to all customers with existing SQL Server 2012 deployments.

SQL Server 2012 SP3 contains fixes to issues that have been reported through our customer feedback platforms. They contain Hotfix solutions provided in SQL Server 2012 cumulative updates up to and including Cumulative Update 9. For additional details, check out the recent SQL Server blog post.