Cloud Platform Release Announcements for January 11, 2017

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:

  • Microsoft Connected Vehicle Platform | Pre-Announce Public Preview
  • Azure SQL DB scales on the fly | Performance Upgrades – GA
  • Kafka for HDInsight | Public Preview
  • Power BI mobile apps | GA and Public Preview
  • SQL Data Warehouse | SQL DW B tree Indexes – GA
  • DocumentDB | Azure DocumentDB now available in UK/S. Korea – GA
  • DocumentDB | DocDB Changefeed – GA
  • Azure App Service – Enterprise Integration Pack | GA
  • Azure Media Encoder | Azure Media Encoder Pricing Changes GA
  • Visual Studio Mobile Center Preview | Removal of signup wait list
  • US Gov – Data Management and Analytics | GA-Av2-Series for Azure VMs in Azure US Gov
  • US Gov – Data Management and Analytics | GA-Azure Disk Encryption in Azure US Gov
  • US Gov – Data Management and Analytics | GA-SQL Server Stretch DB in Azure US Gov
  • Australia – Cloud Infrastructure | Customer Communication
  • Azure IoT Hub | GA: Feature (message routing)

Event announcements

Cloud Infrastructure

Microsoft Connected Vehicle Platform | Pre-Announce Public Preview

Aligned Event: 01/05 – 01/08 Consumer Electronics Show

At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, we announced the Microsoft Connected Vehicle Platform, built on top of the Microsoft Azure cloud and other company technologies and designed to empower auto manufacturers to speed up bringing connected and differentiated driving experiences to their customers.   It is a living, agile platform that starts with the cloud as the foundation and aims to address five core scenarios that our customers have told us are key priorities: telematics and predictive services, improved in-car productivity, advanced navigation, connected ADAS (advanced driver assistance systems), customer insights and help building autonomous driving capabilities.

To learn more, please visit the announcement here.

General release announcements

Data + Analytics

Azure SQL DB scales on the fly | Performance Upgrades – GA

Azure SQL Database announces performance upgrades

Pricing | SQL Database

SQL Database is pleased to announce that the per-database read and log write resources across all Premium performance levels are now increased by 100%. The log write resources in the Basic and Standard performance levels have also increased by 100%. This increase in performance allows for price optimization and onboarding of workloads with even higher performance requirements than supported today. All of these performance upgrades come with no price change and are effective immediately with no required action.

To learn more, please visit the Azure SQL Database performance upgrades blog.

Kafka for HDInsight | Public Preview

Kafka for Azure HDInsight in public preview

Pass-through authentication, provided by Azure Active Directory, is in public preview. For more information about pricing, please visit the HDInsight Pricing webpage. Pass-through authentication enables users to sign in to cloud resources by validating their password against their on-premises local Active Directory.

To learn more about this service, please visit the What is Azure AD Pass-through Authentication documentation webpage.

Power BI mobile apps | GA and Public Preview

More new features and updates are available for the Power BI mobile apps:

  • Android tablet availability (Public Preview): The Power BI mobile experience is now available for Android tablets.
  • Mobile phone Power BI reports (GA): Author report views optimized for phones with Power BI Desktop to enhance the data consumption experience on mobile devices.
  • Share insights instantly with new and improved Annotate and Share (iOS): With this update, we have improved the menu and user experience to make it even easier and quicker to annotate and share.
  • Request access to dashboards directly from your mobile app (iOS): For users who scan a QR and don’t have access to the original dashboard, they can now submit a request for access directly from their mobile app.
  • Geographic filtering (Android): ability to filter reports based on your current location on Android devices.
  • Apple watch improvements (iOS): Users can now refresh Apple Watch data directly from the Watch app.
  • Custom URL on image tile (iOS, Android): improved URL and image behavior.
  • Offline background refresh adjustments (All): background refreshes ensure data is up to date, even if it hasn’t been accessed for a while.

Download the mobile apps for Windows, iOS and Android here.

For more information on these new mobile apps features and others, visit the Power BI blog.

SQL Data Warehouse | SQL DW B tree Indexes – GA

Azure SQL Data Warehouse supports creation of secondary B-Tree indexes

Now available worldwide in all regions, Azure SQL Data Warehouse supports the creation of secondary B-Tree indexes on column store tables. There is often a need to look for a ‘needle in a haystack’ which translates to a query that does a lookup of a single row or a small range of rows. Such look up queries can get orders of magnitude (even 1000x) improvement in response time and potentially run in sub-second if there is a B-Tree index on the filter column.

Please visit the Columnstore Indexes Guide webpage for more information.

DocumentDB | Azure DocumentDB now available in UK/S. Korea – GA

Azure DocumentDB now generally available in more regions

Pricing | DocumentDB webpage

Azure DocumentDB is now generally available in South Korea and the UK regions. For more information about pricing, please visit the DocumentDB Pricing webpage. DocumentDB is a fast, global-scale NoSQL service for building highly available, globally distributed apps.

To learn more about this service, please visit the DocumentDB webpage.

DocumentDB | DocDB Changefeed – GA

Introducing Azure DocumentDB ChangeFeed

Available immediately, the Azure DocumentDB ChangeFeed functionality can be used to listen for modifications to data within DocumentDB collections. It can also be used to perform actions such as triggering a call to an API when a document is inserted or modified, performing real-time processing on updates, and synchronizing data in DocumentDB with a cache, search engine, or data warehouse.

To learn more, please visit the Azure blog post.

Developer Tools + Services

Azure App Service – Enterprise Integration Pack | GA

Azure Logic Apps Enterprise Integration Pack is now generally available

The Enterprise Integration Pack Feature within Azure Logic Apps is now generally available. Customers can now easily create and manage B2B- related artefacts including XML schemas, maps, agreements, trading partners and certificates. Electronic data interchange (EDI) has never been easier. With Enterprise Integration Pack, customers can send and receive encoded messages across many formats like AS2, EDIFACT, X12 and many more. Customers can also leverage out-of-the-box tracking capability to easily view and troubleshoot B2B transactions using Microsoft Operations Management Suite (OMS). Please refer to Logic Apps web page and pricing page for more details. Read the full announcement here.

Azure Media Encoder | Azure Media Encoder Pricing Changes GA

Azure Media Services: Pricing Model Change to Standard and Premium Encoder meters

As of January 1, 2017, we will implement a new pricing model for on-demand encoding of media with Azure Media Services. For the Standard Encoder and Premium Encoder, we will calculate usage based on the total duration of the media files produced as output by the encoder. Based on our cost modeling and analysis of typical customer scenarios, the new duration-based billing meter should result in approximate 40–50 % reduction in cost. Savings will vary by usage scenario and prior per-GB pricing.

As part of this change, the currently used meters Standard Encoder (billed per Output GB, GUID – 91ca2643-d874-4da6-a684-bbc95c756bc8) and Premium Encoder (bill per Output GB, GUID – 5a52f29c-0b10-47c6-9eb6-7f668ab6635c)—will be deprecated. The new meters Standard Encoder (billed per minute) and Premium Encoder (billed per minute) will have the GUIDs 62d6fa0e-34e0-4dbd-87d5-179e4d5298a6 and bbd00a1f-e294-49a2-9d09-1709bc28c5c4 respectively. Your application will not require any code changes, however you may need to modify billing routines that rely on resource GUIDs.

For more information, please visit the Azure Blog.

Visual Studio Mobile Center Preview | Removal of signup wait list

Microsoft has removed the waiting list for signups to the Visual Studio Mobile Center Preview. All previously waitlisted users have been admitted to the program, and new registrants will be able to use the service right away.

Visual Studio Mobile Center is mission control for mobile apps, brings together all the cloud and lifecycle services that help developers deliver high quality apps faster. With Mobile Center, developers can build, test, distribute, and monitor apps and easily add backend cloud services to scale to millions of users on demand.

There are many features already included in the Preview, with even more to come. The Preview currently supports the following services:

  • Build apps automatically with every pull request
  • Test apps on thousands of real-world devices
  • Distribute passing builds to beta testers
  • Monitor apps for crashes and bugs
  • Learn about real world usage with mobile analytics
  • Connect to a mobile backend for automatic scaling and to add important cloud services like offline data sync, tabular data storage, and end-user authentication services

To get started, users can connect using their existing Microsoft or Github credentials at mobile.azure.com.

Trusted Cloud

US Gov – Data Management and Analytics | GA-Av2-Series for Azure VMs in Azure US Gov

Av2-Series instances for Azure Virtual Machines and Cloud Services generally available in Azure Government

Pricing | Virtual Machines webpage

Now generally available for Azure Government, Av2-Series virtual machines include load balancing and auto-scaling at no additional charge. For more information about pricing, please visit the Virtual Machines Pricing webpage. These virtual machines are available in standard memory options in 1, 2, 4, and 8 cores with memory ranging from 2 GB to 16 GB, and in higher memory options in 2, 4, and 8 cores with memory ranging from 16 GB to 64 GB.

To learn more please visit the Virtual Machines webpage or the Cloud Services webpage.

For further documentation visit here.

US Gov – Data Management and Analytics | GA-Azure Disk Encryption in Azure US Gov

Azure Disk Encryption availability in Azure Government

Today, we announce the general availability of Azure disk encryption for Windows and Linux IaaS VMs in Azure Government cloud regions. With this announcement, Azure disk encryption for Windows and Linux IaaS Standard tier VMs (Std A, D, DS, G, GS etc series) are now generally available in all Azure Gov cloud regions to enable customers to protect the OS and data disk at rest using industry standard encryption technology.

Azure Disk Encryption is a capability that lets you encrypt your Windows and Linux IaaS VM disks. Azure Disk Encryption leverages the industry standard BitLocker feature of Windows and the DM-Crypt feature of Linux to provide OS and data disk encryption to help protect and safeguard your data. It also can help you meet organizational security and compliance commitments.   The solution is integrated with Azure Key Vault to help you safeguard, control and manage the disk encryption keys and secrets in your key vault subscription, while ensuring that all data in the virtual machine disks are encrypted at rest in your Azure storage.

For more details on scenarios supported, user experiences enabled and prerequisites to enable Azure disk encryption, refer to the white paper located here.

US Gov – Data Management and Analytics | GA-SQL Server Stretch DB in Azure US Gov

SQL Server Stretch Database joins the Azure Government database family

SQL Server Stretch Database is now generally available in Azure Government.  A part of SQL Server 2016, it enables you to selectively, securely and transparently migrate your on-premises cold or historical data, to Azure Government. It allows you to free up disk space and reduce your enterprise storage costs, without impacting your existing business operations and applications.  Supports Always Encrypted and Row-Level Security. To learn more, please read SQL Stretch Database documentation.

Australia – Cloud Infrastructure | Customer Communication

Azure Regions in Australia are now available to Azure customers around the world

The Microsoft Azure regions in Australia – Australia East and Australia Southeast – have been available since October 2014 with restrictions on which customers could access these regions. We have now lifted the restrictions to allow customers worldwide to access these regions through the Azure portal and APIs as part of their existing subscriptions.

For detailed information on Service Availability and pricing for these two regions, please visit the Azure website.

Cloud Infrastructure

Azure IoT Hub | GA: Message Routing

Azure IoT Hub message routing dramatically simplifies IoT solution development

Imagine millions of IoT devices sending billions of messages to Microsoft Azure IoT cloud.  Some of those messages need to be processed immediately, like an alarm indicating a serious problem.  Some messages are analyzed for anomalies.  Some messages are sent to long term storage. In these cases, customers have to build routing logic to decide where to send each IoT message.

To make all of this easier, Microsoft launched a new service called IoT Hub message routing, which allows customers to setup automatic routes for IoT messages, without having to write a single line of code. Another benefit by automatic routing messages is the optimization of the IoT infrastructure.

Learn more about IoT Hub message routing by reading the blog here.