Cloud Platform Release Announcements for November 16, 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 Data Lake analytics service | GA
  • Azure Data Lake Store | GA
  • SQL Server 2016 SP1 | SQL Server 2016 SP1 GA
  • SQL Server v.Next (Windows, Linux, and Docker) | Public preview
  • R Server for HDInsight | GA
  • Kafka for HDInsight | Public
  • App Service: Linux web apps | Public preview
  • Azure Bot Services (Project Belfast) | Public preview
  • Azure Functions | GA
  • Microsoft Joins Linux Foundation | GA
  • Visual Studio Mobile Center Preview | Public preview
  • ASP.NET Core and .NET Core 1.1 | GA
  • Azure Application Insights | GA
  • Team Foundation Server 2017 | RTM
  • Visual Studio 2017 | RC
  • VS for Mac Preview | Public preview
  • Xamarin for Visual Studio GA for Profiler, Inspector, Workbooks, iOS Simulator | GA
  • .NET Foundation | GA
  • Xamarin Test Cloud Appium Support | GA
  • Visual Studio Tools for Docker | Public preview
  • Xamarin.Forms Previewer (Preview) | Public preview
  • Compute: N-Series | GA
  • Operations Management Suite | OMS Service updates
  • Data Migration Assistant v2.0 | Data Migration 2.1 RTM
  • Open source SQL Server JDBC Driver | Open source SQL Server JDBC Driver GA
  • Azure Machine Learning | Azure ML availability in East US2 and Japan East
  • DocumentDB local instance + .NET Core support | Public

Azure Data Lake analytics service | GA

Azure Data Lake Analytics GA was disclosed at the Connect(); conference. Azure Data Lake Analytics is the first cloud analytics service where you can easily develop and run massively parallel data transformation and processing programs in U-SQL, R, Python and .Net over petabytes of data. Data Lake Analytics has no infrastructure to manage (no servers, VMs, or clusters to wait for, manage, or tune) and scales instantly with every job. This minimizes the amount of time needed to manage the system including capacity planning and cluster tuning of other big data systems. It also includes U-SQL, a simple yet expressive and extensible language that lets you combine the power of .NET languages with the simplicity of SQL-based programs. Finally, Data Lake Analytics includes powerful tools within Visual Studio to write, debug, and optimize code. Visual Studio actively analyzes your programs as they run and offers recommendations to improve performance and reduce cost.

As part of GA, we are also announcing availability of Data Lake tooling in Visual Studio Code allowing users to use a cross-platform code editor available on Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux. Get additional content on Data Lake Analytics.

Azure Data Lake Store | GA

Azure Data Lake Store GA was announced at the Microsoft Connect(); conference. Azure Data Lake is the first cloud Data Lake for enterprises that is secure, massively scalable and built to the open HDFS standard. It can manage trillions of files where a single file can be greater than a petabyte in size which is 200x larger than other cloud object stores. Without the limits that constrain other stores, Data Lake Store is ideal for any type of data including massive datasets giving customers the confidence that their investment will meet their data size requirements now and in the future. It also provides massive throughput to run large analytic jobs. Finally, any analytics engine like Data Lake Analytics, HDInsight or HDFS compliant applications can process the same data at the same time seamlessly.

Get additional content on Data Lake Store.

SQL Server 2016 SP1 | SQL Server 2016 SP1 GA

SQL Server 2016 SP1 generally available

With SQL Server 2016 SP1, key SQL Server innovations are now available across editions. Developers can benefit from industry-leading innovations in SQL Server for more of their applications by building to a single application programming surface to create or upgrade new intelligent applications. Choose the edition which scales to your application’s needs. SQL Server Enterprise continues to offer the highest levels of scale, performance and availability for enterprise workloads. For more information, please see our announcement on the SQL Server Blog.

SQL Server v.Next (Windows, Linux, and Docker) | Public preview

SQL Server v.Next is the next major release of SQL Server, our industry-leading data management and business analytics platform, and represents another significant step forward in enabling choice for developers and organizations. SQL Server enables choice of development languages and data types, and deployment on-premises and in the cloud.  With SQL Server v.Next, we bring the power of SQL Server to Linux and Windows with support for Docker containers. The first public preview of SQL Server v.Next is available starting today.

Learn more.

R Server for HDInsight | GA

R Server for HDInsight GA was announced at the Connect(); conference. Running Microsoft R Server as a service on top of Apache Spark, R Server for HDInsight achieves unprecedented scale and performance by combining the familiarity of the open source R language with the power of Spark. Multi-threaded math libraries and transparent parallelization in R Server means handling up to 1000x more data and up to 50x faster speeds than open source R—helping you train more accurate models for better predictions than previously possible. Newly available in GA is the inclusion of R Studio Server Community Edition out-of-the-box making it easy for data scientists to get started quickly.

Find more details.

Kafka for HDInsight | Public

Kafka for HDInsight was announced as public preview at the Connect(); conference. This service lets you ingest massive amounts of real-time data and analyze that data with integration to Storm or Spark for HDInsight. Doing so allows you to build end-to-end real-time applications like IoT, fraud detection, click-stream analysis, financial alerts, or social analytics solutions.

Find out more details.

App Service: Linux web apps | Public preview

Back in October we announced Linux platform support for Azure App Service targeting PHP and Node.js developers. Today we are extending this support to .NET Core to allow you to bring your own container image from the Azure Container Registry, Docker Hub, or a private container registry. This enables developers to create their own container image definitions all while getting the benefits of Azure App Service.

Azure App Service provides default Linux containers for versions of node.js, php and .NET Core that make it easy to quickly get up and running on the service. With our new container support, developers can create a customized container based on the defaults. For example, developers could create a container with specific builds of node.js and pm2 that differ from the default versions provided by the service. This enables developers to use new or experimental framework versions that are not available in the default containers.

Azure Bot Services (Project Belfast) | Public preview

Today we are announcing the Azure Bot Service Preview, powered by the Microsoft Bot Framework, deployed and run on the Azure serverless cloud. Developers can build, connect, deploy and manage intelligent bots that interact naturally wherever their users are talking – from text/sms to Skype, Slack, Facebook Messenger, Kik, Office 365 mail and other popular services. They are run in a serverless environment on Azure so that the bots scale based on demand and pay only for the resources they consume.

Azure Functions | GA

In March 2016 Azure Functions was announced in Preview. Today, after an extremely successful preview, we are announcing the general availability of Azure Functions. Azure Functions is a serverless compute experience to accelerate your development. It can scale based on demand and you pay only for the resources you consume. The integrated tooling support, out of the box Azure and third party service bindings and integrated continuous deployment capability makes it stand apart from the serverless competition.

Microsoft Joins Linux Foundation | GA

Joining the Linux Foundation as a Platinum member enables Microsoft to further support, nurture, and advance the core technologies that the IT industry relies upon, and to work closely with industry leaders to help sustain related code and communities for our customers. In addition to Microsoft Azure’s strong support for open source technologies, Microsoft is bringing many of its flagship technologies to Linux, including; .NET, Visual Studio, and SQL Server.

Visual Studio Mobile Center Preview | Public

On November 16, Microsoft announced a preview of Visual Studio Mobile Center—mission control for mobile apps. The preview works with iOS and Android with apps built in Objective-C, Swift, Java, Xamarin, and React Native. Mobile Center brings together the cloud and lifecycle services that help developers deliver high-quality apps faster and drive user adoption and retention. Mobile Center lets you build, test, distribute and monitor apps, and makes it easy for developers to scale apps on demand and add popular mobile features such as identity services and offline sync.

To receive your invitation to the preview as soon as possible, please visit the Visual Studio Mobile Center page and sign up. For additional information, please see our announcement on the Visual Studio Team blog.

ASP.NET Core and .NET Core 1.1 | GA

.NET Core and ASP.NET Core give you a blazing fast and modular development platform for creating applications that run on Windows, Linux and Mac. Cross-platform and open source, .NET Core provides a light weight development model and the flexibility to work with your favorite development tools on your favorite development platform. .NET Core and ASP.NET Core 1.1 is GA and available 11/16 while .NET Core SDK (tooling) is Preview 3. Check out the list of features in 1.1 and the .NET Team blog.

Azure Application Insights | GA

On Wednesday, November 16, we announced the general availability of Azure Application Insights (formerly Visual Studio Application Insights). With general availability comes a 99.9% uptime SLA, new pricing plans that offer you greater flexibility in managing your costs, and new data center availability in Europe.

Raw data retention has been increased to 90 days, enabling you to troubleshoot issues and spot trends more easily over multiple deployments. Open Schema will enable you to import application and infrastructure data from other log sources to query all your log data within one tool. Azure Dashboard integration will let you pin the results of your query to the Azure portal for a quick view.

Smart detection uses machine learning to discover anomalies and trends in your application and send you diagnostic information if anomalous failures or performance issues are found in your application. Live Stream now supports display of real time failures, letting you watch for issues during deployments and to give immediate verification of issue resolution when a fix is deployed.

To learn more, read the full blog post and visit the Application Insights webpage.

Team Foundation Server 2017 | RTM

Today, Microsoft is releasing Team Foundation Server 2017, the collaboration platform for every developer. Team Foundation Server 2017 is adding Package Management, Code Search, Test & Feedback Extensions and even more improvements in Release Management. Additionally, TFS 2017 customers can browse the Visual Studio Marketplace for extensions and install them in their TFS environment. For more information, please see our announcement on Brian Harry’s blog.

Visual Studio 2017 | RC

On November 16, we announced that the release candidate (“RC”) of Visual Studio 2017 was available for download. marking a major milestone on the path to its general availability (“GA”) in the first half of 2017. Visual Studio 2017 RC delivers new capabilities to help developers to be more productive than ever for any applications and any platform. With Visual Studio 2017 RC, developers get both bug fixes and new functionality that was not previously available in past Preview releases, and includes a go-live license, making it ready for usage on production projects.

For more information about the capabilities available and download the bits, please visit Visual Studio 2017 RC page and read John Montgomery’s Visual Studio 2017 RC announcement blog post.

VS for Mac Preview | Public preview

On November 16, Microsoft shared a public preview of Visual Studio for Mac, the latest member of the Visual Studio family. Visual Studio for Mac is a macOS-based IDE focused on building mobile, cloud, and macOS apps.

The first preview release includes support for building native apps for iOS and Android using C# and F# through Xamarin, as well as application back-ends through Azure-connected services and support for ASP.NET Core. Upcoming releases will include support for a wider range of languages and backend services.

To learn more, please see our announcement on the Visual Studio Team blog, and the Visual Studio for Mac (Preview) page.

Xamarin for Visual Studio GA for Profiler, Inspector, Workbooks, iOS Simulator | GA

On November 16, Microsoft announced that several productivity features of Xamarin for Visual Studio have moved from preview to general availability, and are now fully supported.

  • Xamarin Inspector is an interactive tool that attaches to a live application that Visual Studio Enterprise subscribers can use to diagnose and prototype changes. Users can explore the UI and state of their application, alter its state, or even try new APIs on the spot.
  • Xamarin Profiler allows Visual Studio Enterprise subscribers to find memory leaks, resolve performance bottlenecks, and add polish to their apps before shipping
  • The iOS Simulator provides Visual Studio Enterprise subscribers with a remote view to simulated iOS apps, allowing them to stay focused and productive, without having to leave their IDE to view the app on a Mac.
  • Workbooks provide interactive, contextual exercises with immediate feedback to help all Visual Studio developers learn faster.

For more information please visit the Connect(); 2016 Recap post on

.NET Foundation | GA

.NET Foundation Technical Steering Group Innovation update – Google Joins the .NET Foundation Technical Steering Group. Samsung collaborates through the TSG with Microsoft to bring .NET to Tizen running on 50 million Samsung devices around the world.

More info.

GA: Xamarin Test Cloud Appium support | GA

On November 16, Microsoft announced that after a successful private preview, Xamarin Test Cloud now fully supports Java via the Appium framework.

Developers have had great success writing Xamarin Test Cloud tests using Ruby and the Calabash framework or C# with Xamarin.UITest, and will continue to support and improve support for both. By implementing Appium support, Microsoft has extended the productivity and quality benefits of Xamarin Test Cloud’s real device testing solution to a new group of developers who prefer Java to Ruby or C#.

To learn more, read the Connect(); summary blog post on

Visual Studio Tools for Docker | Public preview

Docker tooling available on Visual Studio includes multi-project debugging support for single and multi-container scenarios, publishing to Azure App Service as a container integration with CI/CD to Azure Container Service, and Windows Server Container debugging for .NET Framework apps. We are also updating the Visual Studio Code Tools for Docker. Learn more.

Xamarin.Forms Previewer (Preview) | Public preview

The Xamarin.Forms Previewer is available as a preview within Visual Studio.

The Previewer renders a live preview of a Xamarin.Forms page side-by-side with the XAML markup directly inside Visual Studio. By eliminating the build and run cycle, developers can spend more time focused on building great interfaces.

To learn more, read the full Connect(); summary blog post on

Compute: N-Series | GA

We’re excited to announce the general availability of the Azure N-Series of Azure Virtual Machines as of December 1, 2016. Azure N-Series virtual machines—powered by NVIDIA GPUs—provide customers and developers around the globe access to industry-leading accelerated computing and visualization experiences via the Azure public cloud. We’re additionally excited to announce availability in East US, West Europe and South East Asia at GA joining the current South Central US region.

We’ve had thousands of customers participate in the N-Series preview since we launched it back in August. We’ve received fantastic feedback, especially around the enhanced performance and the work Microsoft and NVIDIA have done together to make this a turnkey experience for cloud adopters. During the preview, customers exercised these unique capabilities on a wide range of potential breakthrough scenarios—including artificial intelligence (AI), 3D visualization and interactivity, highly computational medical research, and beyond.

Learn more:

Operations Management Suite | OMS service updates

New in Operations Management Suite: Ransomware protection, VMware backup, and container monitoring

Guard against Ransomware attacks with new features in Azure Backup. Regularly backing up data is the first step, but now with tighter control on admin credentials, alerts of anomalous activity, and retention of deleted files for up to 14 days, you can feel more secure in your backup and disaster recovery plan. Other new enhancements for Azure Backup include the ability to back up VMware virtual machines without an agent and at a folder level, ability to back up your IaaS virtual machines, and added retention of Azure SQL Database from 35 days up to ten years to meet your compliance requirements.

Operations Management Suite is also introducing the public preview of container monitoring. A new solution in the Solution Gallery for the Insight & Analytics service, container monitoring presents a view of your container performance metrics, log analysis, container image inventories, and events in a centralized location. As you start to scale out your environment and increase the number of containers, this monitoring solution gives you the visibility you need. Try it now.

Data Migration Assistant v2.0 | Data Migration 2.1 RTM

Database Migration Assistant 2.1 is a free tool that reduces the effort required to upgrade SQL Server by detecting compatibility issues that can impact database functionality after an upgrade. Database Migration Assistant automates the potentially overwhelming process of checking database schema and static objects for breaking changes from prior versions. It also recommends performance and reliability improvements for your target environment. New in this version of Data Migration Assistant is the ability to assess your databases at scale in an un-attended mode using dmacmd.exe utility, performance improvements when starting and closing the application, and SQL connection time-out is now configurable. Learn more by reading the Data Migration blog.

Open source SQL Server JDBC Driver | Open source SQL Server JDBC Driver GA

To make it more seamless for all developers to build with SQL Server, Microsoft has released a portfolio of updated tooling and connectors. These connectors enable developers to be more productive with SQL Server across Linux, PHP, Java, Python, Ruby, and Node.js and include a JDBC Driver which is now 100 percent open source. The open source JDBC Driver not only gives developers more flexibility in how to deploy it, but a chance to contribute to the driver. To learn more, please see our announcement on the SQL Server blog.

Azure Machine Learning | Azure ML availability in East US2 and Japan East

We are happy to announce that we took the step towards making Azure Machine Learning available in additional Microsoft Azure data centers. Specifically, Azure ML is now available in Azure data centers located in the Japan East region and in East US2.

Through this evolution, we’re helping customers who are under regulatory constraints requiring all their data storage and computation resources to be located in specific areas. Network latency and bandwidth limitations can also be potential obstacles for our international customers. That’s why we’ve been working to make Azure ML available in additional regions.

In the Japan East, data center, customers will now be able to easily train their machine learning models with Azure ML Studio, deploy and run them as web services.  For the East US2 data center, customers will be able to deploy their web services.

For more information, please read the detailed blog post.

Azure Machine Learning is a fully managed service that you can use to create, test, operate, and manage predictive analytic solutions in the cloud. With only a browser, you can sign-in, upload data, and immediately start machine learning experiments. Please visit the Azure Machine Learning website for more information.

DocumentDB local instance + .NET Core support | Public

The new Local Instance for DocumentDB introduces a new preview for the DocumentDB service that is a client-side high-fidelity service emulator that supports the complete DocumentDB API and stores your data/collections locally. With this local instance experience, developers can program and test code using the DocumentDB API in a disconnected and offline environment without incurring any charges for Azure DocumentDB usage, making it much easier to code NoSQL applications for Azure. Please read the blog post for more information.