Cloud Platform Release Announcements for August 24, 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:

  • PowerApps | Public preview – Common data model for PowerApps
  • Operations Management Suite | OMS Security
  • PowerShell (open sourcing) | Public
  • Windows Server 2016 | VMware Migration offer – Available to purchase
  • Azure Premium Storage GA – new geo-availability | US North Central GA
  • MySQL in-app for Azure App Service | Public
  • OMS Log Analytics Linux Management | GA
  • Operations Management Suite | Docker container support
  • Azure SQL Database – P15 | GA
  • Azure SQL Database Security – Azure Active Directory authentication | GA
  • Cognitive Services | PP – Academic Knowledge and Computer Vision APIs
  • Power BI Desktop | GA
  • Power BI service | GA
  • Azure SQL Database – Surface Area Updates | GA – JSON Support
  • SQL Server Migration Assistant for Datazen | GA

PowerApps | Public preview – Common data model for PowerApps

On Monday, August 8, we announced the public preview of the Microsoft Common Data Model (CDM) in PowerApps. With this addition, app creators using PowerApps, will automatically get new capabilities that will enable them to store and manage data unique to the app their building through CDM. This will enable them to create more powerful business apps more quickly, combining data you already have in existing system with data unique to the application.

PowerApps and the Microsoft Common Data model play an important role in our business application platform innovation strategy, enabling power users to creating powerful apps without writing code.

To learn more, read the full blog post and visit the PowerApps page.

Operations Management Suite | OMS Security GA

Today’s IT operations and security teams are tasked with managing increasingly complex environments that are exposed to more sophisticated security threats than ever before. With Operations Management Suite (OMS) Security, you can now quickly and easily assess security posture and detect security threats across your hybrid cloud environments. By leveraging the powerful combination of security log event data, threat intelligence, and Microsoft security expertise, you can detect security threats sooner, and therefore mitigate damage to your business. Also, as OMS Security is born in the cloud, it enables you to cost effectively capture the critical security data at hyper-scale, providing a complete and comprehensive security management solution.

To try OMS Security, please visit the Operations Management Suite webpage for a free account.

PowerShell (open sourcing) | Public

On Thursday, August 18, PowerShell was open sourced and the alpha builds of PowerShell on Linux (Ubuntu, Centos, Red Hat) and MacOS are now available in GitHub.

As detailed in Jeffrey Snover’s Azure blog post announcing PowerShell availability on Linux, PowerShell provides you with a heterogeneous automation and configuration management framework that works well with your existing tools and is optimized for dealing with structured data (e.g. JSON, CSV, XML, etc.), REST APIs, and object models.

You can use Azure management capabilities through Operations Management Suite (OMS) and take advantage of PowerShell and Desired State Configuration (DSC) to manage not only Windows Server but Linux environments as well.

Through OMS Automation, you can graphically author and manage all PowerShell resources including runbooks, DSC configurations and DSC node configurations from one place. Using OMS hybrid runbook workers, you can extend your OMS Automation capability and apply, monitor and update configurations anywhere, including on-premises. You can also manage Linux and Windows systems from any client machine (Linux, MacOS, or Windows).

To learn more, read the full Azure blog post and visit the PowerShell page.

Windows Server 2016 | VMware Migration offer – Available to purchase

On Wednesday, August 24, we announced the availability of the new VMware migration offer. This offer will provide free Windows Server Datacenter licenses for VMware customers committing to move to Hyper-V when customers buy Windows Server Datacenter + Software Assurance.

With the upcoming launch of Windows Server and System Center 2016, Microsoft believes the transition to a proven cloud platform is key to customers in order to address security, performance and cost concerns. Windows Server 2016 and System Center 2016 were built with the learnings from running the hyper-scale Azure datacenters and will bring unique and exciting new features, such as Shielded Virtual Machines that uses BitLocker to encrypt disk and state of virtual machines and also ensures Hyper-V hosts running these Shielded Virtual Machines are “allowed and healthy” hosts. In the software-defined datacenter space, Storage Spaces Direct and new software-defined networking features will deliver the performance and flexibility customers are looking for, at no extra charge.

For more information on the offer, access the VMware Shift website. For more information on Windows Server 2016, access the Windows Server page.

Azure Premium Storage GA – new geo-availability | US North Central GA

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 the US North Central region, as well as these previously announced regions. Learn more about Premium Storage.

MySQL in-app for Azure App Service | Public

Today we’re announcing a new feature (in preview) for Web developers that are using Azure App Service to create Web applications that use MySQL. MySQL in-app enables developers to run the MySQL server side-by-side with their Web application within the same environment, which makes it easier to develop and test PHP applications that use MySQL. This feature has no additional costs and shares the resource of the existing plan. This feature is designed to facilitate development and testing and has certain limitations, and we are not recommending it for production.

Check the Azure Blog for more information on this feature and how to get started.

Operations Management Suite Log Analytics Linux Management | GA

Microsoft Operations Management Suite (OMS) now offers expanded Linux monitoring capabilities with the general availability of the OMS Log Analytics agent for Linux. Built on the Open Source project FluentD, the agent provides actionable insights for your applications and workloads across major Linux distributions. You can onboard your Linux systems into OMS and get rich analytics including near real-time performance metrics. You can collect, correlate and search on Linux system logs and process metrics. You can also bring alerts from other monitoring solutions such as Nagios and Zabbix.

Now OMS transforms your cloud experience across Windows Server and Linux environments. Try Operations Management Suite today.

Operations Management Suite | Docker container support

Microsoft Operations Management Suite (OMS) is extending its monitoring capabilities to Docker Containers. By nature, containers are light-weight and easily provisioned and as such they can be difficult to manage. Without a centralized approach to monitoring, customers may find it difficult to respond to critical issues at speed. Using the OMS Docker Container monitoring, you can get visibility into container inventory, performance, and logs from one place. The monitoring solution also provides a simplified view of Docker Containers usage, and lets you diagnose problems across cloud and on-premises environments. As is the case in other OMS solutions, the logs, inventory, and performance data collected are searchable to create custom reports and alerting.

If you have Docker containers, you can start using this solution now in public preview. Try Operations Management Suite today.

Azure SQL Database – P15 | GA

New Azure SQL Database Premium performance level, P15, generally available

Pricing | SQL Database

As our customers build even more powerful applications in Azure using Azure SQL Database, they need more options to scale performance for high-demand workloads. That’s why we’re announcing a new performance level within our Premium service tier: P15. P15 offers 4,000 Database Transaction Units (DTUs)—that’s twice as powerful as our P11 offering—with extremely fast transactional performance, real-time analytics, and up to 1 TB of storage. An advantage to running a SQL database on Azure is being able to scale performance up or down, on the fly, to adapt to changing workload demands. This new performance level lets you scale up database performance for explosive growth of application workloads.

For more information, please check out the SQL Database options and performance: Understand what’s available in each service tier documentation article.

Azure SQL Database Security – Azure Active Directory authentication | GA

Help secure data in Azure SQL Database with Azure Active Directory authentication, now generally available

SQL Database

Azure SQL Database offers a set of simple-to-implement, built-in features to help secure data from malicious and unauthorized users. Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) support in Azure SQL Database is now generally available.

With SQL Database support for Azure AD authentication, you now have a mechanism of connecting to SQL Database by using identities in Azure AD for managed and federated domains. With Azure AD authentication, customers can manage the identities of database users and other Microsoft services in one central location.

To learn more the GA of Azure AD authentication with SQL Database, please review our blog.  Many more security features are available in SQL Database. To start using these features, customers can read the overview on securing their SQL Database across connectivity, authentication, authorization, encryption, auditing, and compliance.

Cognitive Services | PP – Academic Knowledge and Computer Vision APIs

Microsoft Cognitive Services are a collection of APIs which enable developers to tap into high-quality vision, speech, language, knowledge and search technologies, developed with decades of Microsoft research to build intelligent apps.

We’re excited to announce the public preview availability of the following APIs:

  • Computer Vision API, which gives you the tools to understand the contents of any image. Create tags identifying objects, beings, or actions present in the image, and then craft coherent sentences to describe it. With Computer Vision API, you are able to extract rich information from images to categorize and process visual data—and protect users from unwanted content.
  • Academic Knowledge API, which helps to tap into the wealth of academic content by applying the Knowledge Exploration Service to the Microsoft Academic Graph. Users can start from natural language queries, or you can ping the graph directly through structured query expressions.

Computer Vision API and Academic Knowledge API are available as standalone services, and public preview pricing went into effect on August 4, 2016.

For more information, please visit Computer Visions API and Academic Knowledge API pages.

Power BI Desktop | GA

New and most frequently requested Power BI Desktop features are now available to business analysts.

  • Analytics pane will be the new central location for all analytical features.
  • Dynamic reference lines provide the ability to create multiple data bound reference lines on clustered column and bar charts, line charts, and scatter charts—calculated based on the max, min, median, average, or different percentiles of a selected measure. You can add as many reference lines as you need, and for each line you can control name, what measure it is based on, the style, and if it has a label or not.
  • New data connectors include Impala DirectQuery support (preview), Snowflake connector (preview), improved Web connector, and GA of SAP BW connector.

Download the latest Power BI Desktop to experience the new features immediately. For more information on these new features and others, visit the Power BI blog.

Power BI service | GA

More new and most frequently requested Power BI features are now available to end users and business analysts in the month of July.

  • Real-time streaming (preview) provides functionality which makes it even easier to stream real-time data to Power BI, and to see that data light up in your dashboards.
  • Auditing (preview) enables logging and monitoring of user activities.
  • Azure Active Directory (AAD) Conditional Access provides the ability to set user permissions using AAD.

Sign in to to experience the new features immediately. For more information on these new features and others, visit the Power BI blog.

Azure SQL Database – Surface Area Updates | GA – JSON Support

We are happy to announce that you can now query and store both relational and textual data formatted in JavaScript Object Notation (JSON) using Azure SQL Database. Azure SQL Database provides simple built-in functions that read data from JSON text, transform JSON text into table and format data from SQL tables as JSON. JSON in Azure SQL Database enables you to build and exchange data with modern web, mobile, and HTM5/JavaScript single-page applications.

Now you can easily integrate your Azure SQL Database with any service that uses JSON. Learn more.

SQL Server Migration Assistant for Datazen | GA

The SQL Server Migration Assistant for Datazen is now generally available. This tool is designed to help organizations migrate their existing Datazen Server content, including dashboards and KPI’s, to a SQL Server 2016 Reporting Services server. The SQL Server Migration Assistant for Datazen is available for download. For more information please read the blog post.