Cloud Platform Release Announcements for June 28, 2017

This is a blog post for a new, ongoing series of consolidated updates from the Cloud Platform team.

We’re here to help you embrace the cloud. Realize your true potential with our unique innovations, comprehensive mobile solutions, and developer tools across the breadth of our product portfolio. To help you stay current, here are our latest releases.

  • Microsoft Stream | general availability
  • Cloud Foundry Foundation Announce Messaging | general availability
  • Azure Container Service | ACS Docker CE Support Pre-announcement
  • Azure Architecture Center | general availability
  • Azure Virtual Machines | Dv3/Ev3 general availability and B Series Preview
  • Operations Management Suite | Azure Backup and Site Recovery updates
  • Windows Server | Disclosure
  • System Center 2016 | SC Semi-annual Channel External Disclosure
  • Azure Traffic Manager | Fast Failover general availability
  • Azure Traffic Manager | TCP Probing general availability
  • Azure HDInsight | R Server 9.1 on Spark 2.1
  • Azure SQL DB learns and adapts | adaptive query processing preview
  • Azure SQL DB Preferred Dev Environment | SQL Data Sync Preview
  • Azure SQL DB Preferred Dev Environment | SQL Graph support preview
  • Power BI Desktop | general availability
  • Power BI service | general availability
  • Azure Event Hubs | Capture general availability (was Archive)
  • Azure Logic Apps | Logic Apps cumulative features and connector
  • PingAccess For Azure Active Directory (AD) | general availability

Microsoft Stream | general availability

On June 20, 2017, we announced the general availability of Microsoft Stream and the new intelligent features that will enable greater productivity and user engagement with video.

Microsoft Stream provides a common destination for video management with built-in intelligence features like face detection, speech-to-text transcript, deep integration across Office 365, and the IT management and security capabilities that businesses of all sizes require. It’s available as a standalone application, or as part of Office 365 commercial plans.

Read more in this blog post.

Cloud Foundry Foundation announce messaging | general availability

Microsoft Joined the Cloud Foundry Foundation as a Gold Member

On June 13, 2017, Microsoft joined Cloud Foundry Foundation as a Gold Member, marking an important milestone in Microsoft’s vision of delivering Azure as an open, flexible, and portable platform.

Cloud Foundry is an open cloud application development platform used by many of the largest enterprises to solve their complex business challenges. Enterprises including Ford, Manulife, and Merrill have chosen Cloud Foundry as an application development platform, and look to Azure as their leading enterprise cloud on which to run their critical applications.

The partnership with the Cloud Foundry Foundation extends Microsoft’s commitment into the open community—a deeply collaborative, innovative, and diverse technology ecosystem—and underscores how Microsoft Azure provides an unparalleled choice of tools, frameworks, and platforms.

In addition, Microsoft has joined the Open Service Broker API working group to enable a standardized interface making it easier for you to connect cloud native to platforms like Cloud Foundry and Kubernetes.

Benefits

  • Choice—run Cloud Foundry implementations on Azure.
  • Build on an open platform—use an open-source ecosystem to build Azure-based applications.
  • Support partners’ Cloud Foundry solutions—Pivotal, SAP Cloud Platform, GE Predix (coming soon).

Key features

Additional resources

Azure Container Service | Docker Community Edition (CE) support pre-announcement

Docker Community Edition description

  • Free Docker platform for “do it yourself” dev and ops
  • Monthly Edge release with latest features for developers
  • Quarterly release with maintenance for ops

Docker Community Edition for Azure Container Service

  • There are currently two different ways to deploy Docker on Azure
    • Docker for Azure
    • Azure Container Service with Swarm support
  • Docker and Microsoft are working on simplifying this
  • First step Docker CE for Container Service using Ubuntu – available in July
    • Working on further integrating Docker for Azure and Container Service
  • Swarm orchestration refresher:
    • Docker-native clustering and orchestration
    • Secure by default:  secrets, mutual TLS
    • Built-in load-balancing, overlay networking, and service discovery
  • Scalable and easy-to-use

Azure Architecture Center | general availability

To help you get the most out of your Azure deployment, we’re pleased to bring you the Azure Architecture Center. Our team of cloud engineers constantly update the Architecture Center with the releases of new services and capabilities, so you can take full advantage of the guidance that helps you:

  • Get started—we provide the information you need to get started fast, and save time by building correctly the first time.
  • Get the most out of your existing deployment so you can optimize for security, availability, scalability, performance, cost, and manageability.
  • Get going today with proven guidance, tested deployment scripts, and verified recommendations for your production workloads.

This is a free resource to help you whether you’re a developer building an application in Azure for the first time, a data-focused professional navigating big data tools, or an operations manager aiming to make your services more efficient. To get started, visit the Azure Architecture Center. To request new information or provide feedback, please visit the Architecture Center GitHub page.

Azure Virtual Machines | Dv3, Ev3 general availability and B Series Preview

New virtual machine families—Dv3, Ev3, and B Series

We’re excited to offer more compute options with the recent launch of three new virtual machine families—Dv3, Ev3 and B Series. You now have more choices for virtual machines based on what best meets your business needs. Please refer to the Azure Virtual Machine pricing page for more details on the SKU configuration, region availability, and pricing.

New hyperthreaded virtual machines (Dv3 and Ev3) general availability

This new generation introduces two virtual machine families—Dv3 and Ev3—including sizes with 64 vCPUs on the Intel® Broadwell E5-2673 v4 2.3 processor, and with 432-GiB of memory on the largest Ev3 sizes.

  • Dv3—A new generation of general purpose virtual machines with the introduction of Hyper-Threading Technology.
  • Ev3—A new generation and new family name, memory-optimized workloads that also supports Hyper-Threading Technology.

Burstable virtual machines (B Series) preview

We’re excited to announce the preview of a new family of virtual machines (B Series) that provide a low-cost option for workloads that typically run at a low-to-moderate baseline CPU performance, but sometimes need to burst to significantly higher CPU performance when demand rises. These are best suited for apps such as dev and test servers, low traffic web servers, small databases, micro services, build servers, code repositories that don’t require use of the full CPU at all times, and burst as needed to finish tasks.

Operations Management Suite | Azure Backup and Site Recovery updates

Generate Azure Backup reports with Power BI

To help you understand your backup data and stay compliant, Azure Backup offers Power BI reports of your backups. You can use these reports to gain visibility into metrics such as storage usage, job health and alerts. Start using Power BI with Azure Backup.

Azure Site Recovery extends Linux support and configuration options

To help you simplify migrations and make business continuity solutions accessible for all your applications, Azure Site Recovery is extending configuration options and Linux OS support. Our disaster recovery service can now support Azure IaaS machines using Storage Spaces Direct, a virtualization technology in Windows Server 2016 that groups disks into storage pools to enhance performance and accommodate larger disks. To add greater flexibility, Azure Site Recovery is extending support for Linux OS Ubuntu on VMware virtualized infrastructure or Azure virtual machines. Learn more about these features at this blog post.

Windows Server | Disclosure

Continuous innovation with Windows Server and System Center—introducing the semi-annual channel

On June 15, 2017, we announced details about the new option for customers to adopt a more frequent delivery model for Windows Server and System Center. This option is in high demand from customers who are innovating quickly and need access to new features more frequently.

Here’s how it will work:

  • We will deliver two feature releases each year, aligning to the Windows and Office Semi-annual Channel release cycle. We’ll make new Windows Server feature releases available every six months in the first and second half of the year. Feature releases are cumulative, so each release will build on the prior release and add new capabilities.
  • These releases will be available to customers with Software Assurance as well as via Azure images or other cloud/hosting environments. The first preview will be available this summer through the Windows Insider Program, and the first feature release will ship later in 2017.
  • System Center will also begin semi-annual releases to manage the new features in Windows Server.

For customers looking for longer term stability and predictability in their deployments, Windows Server 2016 remains the best choice. It’s the latest release from our long-term servicing channel (LTSC) and it’s supported for 10 years (or up to 16 years with Premium Assurance).

Both Nano Server and Server Core will be options on the Semi-annual Channel. For more details, read the June 15, 2017, blog.

System Center 2016 | semi-annual channel external disclosure

A faster release cadence is coming for System Center in the next year, focusing on the highest priority needs of our customers across components. You will see releases twice a year, aligned with the Windows Server semi-annual channel timelines. A technical preview is planned for release later in 2017 with the first production version available early 2018. Subsequent releases will occur approximately every six months. These releases will be available to System Center customers with active Software Assurance. System Center Configuration Manager will continue to offer three releases a year to give you the latest updates for managing servers, PCs, and mobile devices. Learn more in this blog post.

Azure Traffic Manager | Fast Failover general availability

Azure Traffic Manager announces the general availability of Fast Failover

You can now choose to have faster redirection of users from an endpoint that has gone unhealthy. Specifically, you can now:

  • Choose a shorter interval of 10 seconds for Traffic Manager to check endpoint health status (versus the current interval of 30 seconds).
  • Configure the number of consecutive failure(s) (between 1 and 10, inclusive) before marking an endpoint unhealthy.
  • Configure the timeout interval for each probe attempt (between 5 and 9 seconds if probe interval is 10 seconds, between 5 and 10 seconds if probe interval is 30 seconds).
  • Set the Time to Live (TTL) response all the way down to zero.

The above configurable settings, when used together, allow Azure Traffic Manager to direct traffic away from a degraded endpoint in one-tenth of the time it currently takes.

Customers choosing to use fast failover will be charged an extra $1 per endpoint per month for health checking Azure endpoints, and an extra $2 per endpoint per month for health checking external endpoints.

To get started using these features, please visit Azure Traffic Manager’s Fast Failover and TCP Probing documentation pages.

Azure Traffic Manager | TCP Probing general availability

Azure Traffic Manager announces the general availability of TCP Probing

You can now choose to have Azure Traffic Manager determine your endpoints’ health by listening to responses for a TCP connection request.

This new feature allows you to add endpoints that don’t have the ability to respond to HTTP health checks, such as database backends to Traffic Manager profiles. TCP Probing also allows you to reduce your Azure endpoint resource usage by choosing a probing method that typically has lower overhead.

There’s no additional charge for using this feature. You can access the settings for Fast Failover and TCP Probing using Portal, PowerShell, Command Line Interface, and REST APIs/SDKS.

To get started using these features, please visit Azure Traffic Manager’s Fast Failover and TCP Probing documentation pages.

Azure HDInsight | R Server 9.1 on Spark 2.1

Microsoft R Server 9.1 now generally available within Azure HDInsight

The latest capabilities of Microsoft R Server 9.1 (on Spark 2.1) including neural nets for deep learning, pre-trained sentiment analysis, image featurizer models, and more are now generally available within Azure HDInsight. Learn more about R Server 9.1 on the TechNet blog.

Azure SQL Database learns and adapts | adaptive query processing preview

New improvements to adaptive query processing generally available

The adaptive query processing feature family includes three improvements:—batch mode memory grant feedback, batch mode adaptive joins, and interleaved execution. Batch mode memory grant feedback improves the performance of repeating queries that request too much or too little memory. Batch mode adaptive join is a new query operator type that allows dynamic selection of the most optimal join algorithm based on runtime row counts. Interleaved execution improves the performance of queries that reference multi-statement table valued functions by using the true row count of the function call for use during query optimization.

Azure SQL Database preferred dev environment | SQL Data Sync Preview

Get started with Azure SQL Data Sync in the new Azure Portal

Now available in the new Azure portal, Azure Data Sync is a cloud-based service built on Microsoft Sync Framework technologies. It provides single direction as well as bi-directional data synchronization and data management capabilities, allowing data to be easily shared among SQL Databases across multiple data centers, or between on-premises SQL Server databases and Azure SQL Databases. For more information, please visit the Azure blog.

Azure SQL Database preferred dev environment | SQL Graph support preview

Graph support for Azure SQL Database Preview

The rapid growth and complexity of data can leave you struggling to optimize schema and query design to address complex relationships between the data. Graph databases introduce simple constructs of nodes and relationships into linked structures for sophisticated modeling. Azure SQL Database now offers fully integrated graph extensions, so you can define graph schema with graph objects. T-SQL language extensions help you find patterns and use multi-hop navigation. To learn more about Graph support, visit the TechNet Blog.

Power BI Desktop | general availability

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

  • Reporting—data bars for new table and matrix (preview); markers on line, area, and combo charts; accessible reports, and more.
  • Data connectivity—SAP BW connector DirectQuery support (preview), Amazon Redshift connector general availability, custom data connector support, and more.
  • Query editing—enhancements to “Add column from examples.”

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 | general availability

Additional new and most frequently requested Power BI features are now available to end users and business analysts.

  • Power BI Premium is now generally available. Power BI Report Server, as part of Power BI Premium, is also now generally available. See this blog for more information.
  • ArcGIS Maps for Power BI has reached general availability. See this blog for more information.
  • SOC certifications—Power BI has achieved SOC 1, SOC 2, and SOC 3 certifications.

See the Microsoft Trust Center for more info. Sign in to powerbi.microsoft.com to experience the new features immediately. For more information on these new features and others, visit the Power BI blog.

Azure Event Hubs | Capture general availability (was Archive)

Azure Event Hubs Capture now generally available

Pricing | Azure Event Hubs webpage

The Capture feature of Azure Event Hubs is now generally available. This key feature (which was released in preview as Event Hubs Archive), provides efficient micro-batch processing and long-term data archival.

Capture makes it easy to send data from Event Hubs to persistent storage without using code or configuring other compute services. Key features include:

  • Simple setup. Configure Event Hubs Capture with just a few mouse clicks.
  • Reduced total cost of ownership. Event Hubs handles all the management, minimizing the overhead involved in setting up and tracking your custom job processing mechanisms.
  • Supports your current storage destinations. Just choose your Azure Storage account (and soon Azure Data Lake Store) and Capture automatically pulls the data into your containers.
  • Near-real time batch analytics. Event data is available within minutes of ingress into Event Hubs. This enables common scenarios regarding near-real time analytics without having to construct separate data pipelines.

You’ll find additional details in this blog post.

Azure Logic Apps | Logic Apps cumulative features and connector

Pricing | Logic Apps webpage

We’re pleased to announce important new capabilities are now available in Azure Logic Apps. These updates deepen and broaden the functionality of Logic Apps. You can now benefit from the following:

  • BizTalk Server Connector—now generally available, the BizTalk Connector provides an easy way to integrate Logic Apps workflows with BizTalk Server. This capability is an important enabler for customers connecting existing enterprise applications with SaaS applications and cloud-based business logic and processing.
  • Expression Authoring—a new way to easily create expressions within your Logic App.
  • Message Batching—this feature (currently in preview) allows you to group messages and send as a single file once a user-specified threshold is met.

PingAccess For Azure Active Directory (AD) | general availability

Ping Identity and Microsoft are announcing the general availability of PingAccess for Azure AD. This provides secure remote access to more on-premises applications by integrating with Application Proxy, without requiring a VPN.

Application Proxy provides secure remote access to on-premises web applications. However, connecting the full set of legacy and custom on-premises apps can be challenging, especially if these apps are not standards-based. Ping Identity has developed PingAccess, to provide single sign-on (SSO) and remote access to many different types of on-premises web applications, even non-standard based ones.

This integration between Application Proxy and PingAccess allows you to expand SSO access to even more on-premises web applications. The result is seamless and secure single sign-on for all applications for users on all devices and clouds.

Azure AD Premium customers can use this integration to connect up to 20 apps at no additional cost. For more than 20 apps, full PingAccess licenses may be purchased.

More details can be found in this blog post.