Cloud Platform Release Announcements for January 13, 2016

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:

  • Azure Automation DSC GA
  • Azure MFA per user SKU GA
  • Azure Premium Storage GA – New Geo-Availability in US South Cen – SN
  • Azure Site Recovery: VMware to Azure MT/CS update GA
  • ChakraCore Open Source GA
  • Microsoft Intune January Update GA
  • Operations Management Suite Alerting and Remediation
  • Power BI app for Windows 10 Mobile GA
  • Power BI Content Pack – AT Internet GA, Smartsheet GA and Lithium GA
  • Power BI Desktop – January Update
  • Power BI Publisher for Excel Public
  • RBAC and Customer Roles GA
  • Visual Studio Dev Essentials: Universal Windows Platform VM | GA
  • Visual Studio Dev Essentials: Windows R Server
  • Z-Ray for Azure App Service GA

Azure Automation DSC GA

Microsoft Operations Management Suite enables continuous IT services delivery with Azure Automation DSC General Availability

Deploying and maintaining the desired state of your servers and application resources has been tedious and error-prone. With Azure Automation Desired State Configuration (DSC), you can consistently deploy, reliably monitor and automatically update the desired state of all your IT resources, at scale from the cloud.

Built on PowerShell DSC, Azure Automation DSC can align machine configuration with specific state across physical and virtual machines, Windows or Linux, in the cloud or on-premises. This enables continuous IT services to deliver consistent control and manage rapid change across heterogeneous hybrid IT environments with ease. Azure Automation DSC is generally available in free and basic tiers; visit the pricing page for details. It is also included as part of the System Center add-on for Microsoft Operations Management Suite, the simplified hybrid cloud IT management solution for any enterprise.

Azure MFA per user SKU GA

More ways to purchase Azure Multi-Factor Authentication

Azure Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) can now be purchased through Volume Licensing, the Cloud Solution Provider program, and Direct as an annual user based model the same way as Azure Active Directory Premium, Intune and Azure RMS. This new Azure MFA Volume License offering will be additional to the existing per-user and per-authentication consumption-based model that was billed monthly against Azure monetary commitment.

This new offer will include the same feature set with the existing offerings. It is just a different way to purchase Azure MFA, which better aligns with how Office 365 and Azure AD Basic and Premium are purchased. Azure MFA will still be included as part of Azure Active Directory Premium, Enterprise Mobility Suite and Enterprise Cloud Suite.

For pricing and licensing information please visit the Azure MFA page.

Azure Premium Storage GA – New Geo-Availability in US South Cen – SN

Azure Premium Storage now generally available in additional regions

Azure Premium Storage is a solid-state drive (SSD)–based storage solution designed to support I/O-intensive workloads. With Premium Storage, you can add up to 64 TB of persistent storage per virtual machine (VM), with more than 80,000 IOPS per VM and extremely low latencies for read operations.

Offering a service-level agreement (SLA) for 99.9 percent availability, Premium Storage is now available in US South Central in addition to the previously announced regions.

Learn more on the Azure Premium Storage page.

Azure Site Recovery: VMware to Azure MT/CS update GA

Simplified protection of workloads in Azure

We are pleased to announce that the protection of VMware and physical servers to Azure have been made even easier and more affordable with the latest update to Azure Site Recovery (ASR).

Previously, protecting these workloads required the deployment of two virtual machines to run in Azure: Master Target (MT) and Configuration Server (CS). By implementing the MT within Azure and co-locating the CS with the Process Server on premises, we have removed the requirement and associated costs for deploying these additional virtual machines. Learn more in this recent Azure blog post.

Find technical details for setting up VMware and physical servers on Azure here.

Azure Site Recovery is generally available today in Microsoft Operations Management Suite.

ChakraCore Open Source GA

The ChakraCore repository provides a fully supported and open-sourced standalone JavaScript engine to embed in projects. Developers can build ChakraCore on Windows 7 SP1 or above with either Visual Studio 2013 or 2015 with C++ support installed. Today, we’re excited to announce ChakraCore is now accepting contributions from the community. The community is at the heart of any open source project and we look forward to the community cloning the repository, inspecting the code, building it, and contributing everything from new functionality to tests or bug fixes.

To learn more, read the recent Chakra blog post.

Microsoft Intune January Update GA

We will be releasing the next service update for Microsoft Intune between January 6 and January 14. New features and enhancements will be made available as part of this service update including support for new Windows 10 features, Apple VPP for Business, and more. Learn more on the Microsoft Intune blog.

Operations Management Suite Alerting and Remediation

Microsoft Operations Management Suite enables seamless IT operations with Log Analytics alerting and remediation

Today, you can easily set up custom alerts, be informed and automatically remediate operational issues. The alert notification and remediation feature of Microsoft Operations Management Suite leverages the log analytics and automation capabilities across physical and virtual machines, Windows or Linux, in the cloud or on-premises, enabling seamless IT operations. This feature is included in the Microsoft Operations Management Suite in public preview.

Learn more about Alerting here.

Power BI app for Windows 10 Mobile GA

Stay connected to your data from anywhere, anytime with the Power BI app for Windows 10 Mobile and get a 360° view of your business data on the go – at the touch of your fingertips. Interact with your data easily in a touch-optimized experience with the Power BI native Windows 10 Mobile app and share live reports and dashboards to keep your team on the same page. Tell stories with your data to engage your customers and colleagues.

Learn more about the Power BI for Windows 10 Mobile on the Power BI blog.

Power BI Content Pack – AT Internet GA, Smartsheet GA and Lithium GA

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 Smartsheet, AT Internet, and Lithium.

Smartsheet is a collaborative work management platform that enables users to manage their work their way, thereby freeing them up to do what matters most. The Smartsheet connector in the Power BI desktop allows you to access your data, so you can build interactive reports to make your work more efficient. The Power BI content pack for Smartsheet gives you a comprehensive view into your environment, including how many artifacts you have and who your top users are and more, to help you understand how your organization is collaborating on work.

AT Internet for Power BI helps you to extract immediate value from your data using its unified digital analytics platform, the Analytics Suite. The AT Internet Bridge content pack for Power BI includes data around visits, sources, localization and devices for your site for the last three months. This initial version of the content pack allows you to visualize all your AT Internet analytics data in a standard dashboard and customize your reporting to get meaningful information at a glance.

Lithium builds trusted relationships between the world’s best brands and their customers, helping people get answers and share their experiences. The Lithium content pack for Power BI allows you to gain insight into key measures of community performance, such as messages posted, questions solved and your most active users.

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, check out the Power BI blog.

Power BI Desktop – January Update

We are excited to announce the Power BI Desktop January Update is now available, delivering additional features and enhancements to help the business analysts get more insights quickly. This January Update includes a number of new features:

  • Support for hierarchies with multi-dimensional models
  • Ability to see the data behind a visual
  • Visuals enhancements, e.g., Format Painter, ability to add reference lines, tooltips on Line and Area charts, sort indicator on tables, and better control of layout and alignment of visuals

Learn more and download the latest Power BI Desktop from the Power BI blog.

Power BI Publisher for Excel Public

The Power BI Publisher for Excel add-in allows users to clip any Excel grid element on a spreadsheet and publish it to a selected Power BI dashboard.

Users can select a table, a Pivot Table, a chart or any other Excel element on an already opened spreadsheet. Then click the Pin button on the Power BI ribbon tab. On the Pin to dashboard dialog, users are able select an existing dashboard out of the list of dashboards with write permission, or create a new dashboard to pin the new content on. Any pinned element can then be manually refreshed right from Excel using the same selection Pin or Pin Manager.

The add-in supports all versions of Excel starting at Excel 2010 and all versions of windows starting at Windows 7. Find the downloads at

RBAC and Customer Roles GA

Azure Role-Based Access Control with custom roles generally available

Azure Role-Based Access Control (RBAC) provides fine-grained access management for Azure resources, so you can grant users only the rights they need to perform their jobs using built-in or custom roles. RBAC is provided at no additional cost to Azure subscribers. To learn more, visit the Active Directory Team Blog or watch this Channel 9 video.

Visual Studio Dev Essentials: Universal Windows Platform VM | GA

Visual Studio Dev Essentials program now offers the Universal Windows Platform VM as part of its many benefits. With these new VMs, developers can get try out quickly the Windows 10 development environment without spending the time it would normally take to set up and configure a device for development or test use. We have provided a Windows 10 development environment in a number of different virtual machine implementations- matched to the latest release and ready to go, including VMWare, Hyper-V, VirtualBox and Parallels.

Learn more in the Universal Windows Platform announcement.

Visual Studio Dev Essentials: Windows R Server

Microsoft R Server is now available to all Dev Essentials members. It was also made available through VLSC and MSDN Downloads earlier this month. Microsoft R Server is a fast and cost-effective enterprise-class big data advanced analytics platform supporting a variety of big data statistics, predictive modeling and machine learning capabilities.

Microsoft R Server includes Open Source R and is fully compatible with R scripts, functions and CRAN packages, and offers a variety of analytics capabilities including exploratory data analysis, model building and model deployment. This new advanced analytics platform based on the R programming language, comes to market less than a year after Microsoft acquired Revolution Analytics, the company that was previously the leading commercial provider of software and services for R. To learn more, see the announcement for Microsoft R Server.

Z-Ray for Azure App Service GA

PHP developers can benefit from real-time insight into running PHP applications with Z-Ray – now on Azure.

Zend Z-Ray for Azure App Service, now generally available, gives developers awareness into entire PHP applications, including execution time, exceptions and errors, and SQL queries used. With Zend’s gallery of plugins, developers can also use Zend Z-Ray to see how every line of code is performing as it’s executing, whether it’s a Magento event, a Drupal module, a WordPress plugin, or a PHP framework function.

Building on our strategic partnership with Zend Technologies, a Rogue Wave company, Zend Z-Ray is integrated with the app management experience and easy to enable through the Settings blade of the Azure portal. Watch this quick video to see Z-Ray for Azure in action.