Cloud Platform Release Announcements for November 14, 2018

Azure Virtual Machines (VMs) | HB VMs for HPC are in preview

New H-series Azure VMs for HPC workloads are in preview

Two new H-series (HB and HC) Azure Virtual Machines for high-performance computing (HPC) workloads are now available in preview.

The HB-series VMs are optimized for HPC applications driven by memory bandwidth, such as fluid dynamics, explicit finite element analysis, and weather modeling. The HB VMs feature 60 AMD EPYC 7551 processor cores, 4 GB of RAM per CPU core, no hyperthreading, and up to four managed disks. The AMD EPYC platform provides more than 260 GB/sec of memory bandwidth.

HC-series VMs are also now in preview.These are optimized for HPC applications driven by intensive computation, such as implicit finite element analysis, reservoir simulation, and computational chemistry. HC-series VMs feature 44 Intel Xeon Platinum 8168 processor cores, 8 GB of RAM per CPU core, no hyperthreading, and up to four managed disks. The Intel Xeon Platinum platform supports Intel’s rich ecosystem of software tools and features an all-cores clock speed of 3.4 GHz for most workloads. Both VMs are now in preview.

For more information, read our blog or sign up to request access to these new virtual machines. Pricing details for Linux or Windows can be found on our websites.

Azure Event Hubs | Event Hubs for Kafka is now available

Azure Event Hubs for Apache Kafka is now generally available 

With Azure Event Hubs for Apache Kafka, we’re bringing together two powerful distributed streaming platforms so you can access the breadth of Kafka ecosystem applications without having to manage servers or networks. Event Hubs is a fully managed, real-time data ingestion service that’s simple, trusted, and scalable. As a distributed streaming platform, Event Hubs lets you stream your data from any source—storing and processing millions of events per second—so you can build dynamic data pipelines and respond to business challenges in real time. Event Hubs for Kafka provides a Kafka endpoint so that any Kafka client running Kafka 1.0 or newer protocols can publish and subscribe events to and from Event Hubs with a simple configuration change. Easily access Kafka ecosystem applications like MirrorMaker while also benefitting from Event Hubs features like Capture (automatic delivery to Blob or Data Lake storage),  Auto-Inflate (auto-scaling of throughput), and Geo Disaster-Recovery. With this integration, you can easily load data from on-premises to the cloud, and unlock analytics with native Azure services such as Azure Stream Analytics and Azure Databricks.

Azure SQL Data Warehouse | Row level security now supported

Azure SQL Data Warehouse (SQL DW) now supports row level security (RLS) adding a powerful capability to secure your sensitive data. With the introduction of RLS, you can implement security policies to control access to rows in your tables, as in who can access what rows. RLS enables this fine-grained access control without having to redesign your data warehouse. This simplifies the overall security model as the access restriction logic is located in the database tier itself rather than away from the data in another application. RLS also eliminates the need to introduce views to filter out rows for access control management. There’s no additional cost for this enterprise-grade security feature for all our customers.

To learn more, read this Azure blog.

Azure SQL Data Warehouse | Azure Data Lake Storage Gen2 integration

Azure SQL Data Warehouse (SQL DW) now has native integration with Azure Data Lake Storage Gen2. Load data using external tables from ABFS into SQL DW. This functionality enables customers to integrate with their data lakes in Data Lake Storage Gen2.

To learn more, read this Azure blog.

Azure SQL Data Warehouse | Maintenance scheduling

Azure SQL Data Warehouse (SQL DW) maintenance scheduling is now available. This new feature seamlessly integrates the Azure Service Health planned maintenance notifications with Resource Health monitor services. Maintenance scheduling allows customers to plan around the scheduled maintenance events the Azure SQL DW service uses to roll out new features, upgrades, and patches. There’s no additional cost for this enterprise-grade security feature.

To learn more, read this Azure blog.

Azure Functions | Runtime 2.0 available on US Gov and China regions

Azure Functions 2.0 is now available to customers in Azure Government and China cloud regions, bringing to those regions the performance improvements and language support included on the new version of the service runtime.

Learn more about the updates included on the runtime 2.0 version.

Azure Functions | Functions in IoT Edge is now available

Azure Functions runtime 2.0 is now available on IoT Edge. Use the C# precompiled versions of Functions for development rather than C# Script. This makes for a richer local development experience, one that’s closer to the experience of Azure Functions in the cloud.

See all the details regarding latest updates on IoT Edge, and learn how to deploy Azure Functions as IoT Edge modules with this tutorial.

To rebuild the existing code from Azure Functions previously deployed as edge modules, see our docs on how to migrate CSX to C#, and learn more about the programming model using C# in Azure Functions in the Developer reference.

Azure Functions | Consumption plan available in US Gov Virginia

Azure Functions in consumption plan is now available in the US Gov Virginia region. The consumption plan lets you pay-per-execution and dynamically allocates resources based on your app’s load, while App Service plans let you use a predefined capacity allocation with predictable costs and scale.

Learn more about the different pricing models.

Azure Virtual Machines | NDv2 in preview

New GPU enabled NDv2 Azure VMs for AI and HPC scenarios are now in preview

Pricing Linux Pricing Windows | Azure Virtual Machines

NDv2 Azure virtual machines are now available in preview. The NDv2 VMs have been architected to accelerate machine learning and high-performance computing workloads.

The new NDv2 will feature eight NVIDIA Tesla V100 NVLINK interconnected GPUs, 40 Intel Skylake cores, and 672 GiB of system memory. The CPU class has been upgraded compared to the prior generation and the system memory has been materially increased.

The NDv2 VM is in preview now. For more information including regional availability refer to our blog  and sign up to request access to this new VM series during the preview period.

Azure Cognitive Services | Container support in preview

Container support is now available in preview for a few of the Azure Cognitive Services, including Computer Vision, Face, and Text Analytics. Deploy Azure Cognitive Services on-premises and on the edge with container support.. Cognitive Services containers allow developers to use the same intelligent APIs that are available in Azure, but with the flexibility that comes with Docker containers. Use Cognitive Services with complete control over your data, which is essential when you can’t send data to the cloud but need access to Cognitive Services technology. Cognitive Services containers give you flexibility in versioning and updating of models deployed in your solutions, and also enable the creation of a portable application architecture that can be deployed in the cloud, on-premises, and on the edge.

Please refer to our documentation for additional details.

Visual Studio 2017 | Version update

A version update to Visual Studio 2017 is now available. With this update, take advantage of everything listed below (and more) for free.

Please note that following our support policy, this final update to Visual Studio 2017 is designated as the “Service Pack” and will be the only supported version starting January 14, 2020.

  • Installation
    • Import and export an installation configuration file that specifies which workloads and components should be installed with an instance of Visual Studio.
  • C++ development
    • Visual Studio Enterprise customers now have access to the step back feature in the debugger for C++. Additionally, we updated the Desktop Bridge framework packages and support ARM64 C++ scenarios.
  • UWP development
    • ARM64 support has been added for .NET UWP apps built (.NET Native), as well as creation of .MSIX packages. We’ve also improved the designer experience with platform only mode and fallback controls.
  • .NET mobile development
    • Xcode 10 is now supported, which enables you to build apps for iOS 12, tvOS 12, and watchOS 5. Xamarin.Android build performance has also been improved.
  • Other languages
    • F# developers will see several improvements when using byref—we’ve updated to the latest Vue CLI 3.0, and now support project references for TypeScript projects.
  • SharePoint 2019 support
    • We added new templates that allow you to create projects for SharePoint 2019. Migrate existing SharePoint projects from both SharePoint 2013 and 2016 to the new template.

For more details, see the blog or the release notes. Download the updated Visual Studio 2017 today through the Visual Studio installer or VisualStudio.Microsoft.com.

Announcing Bot Framework SDK and Tools 4.1 Release

Bot Framework SDK version 4.1 is now available. This includes the availability of the Bot Framework Emulator, the Web Chat V4, and version 4.1 of the C# and JavaScript SDKs. With this update, the team is focusing on periodical releases of the SDK and tools for bot development.

Learn more about Bot Framework SDK and Tools.

Virtual Assistant solution accelerator is now in preview

Many customers are looking to deliver conversational assistants tailored to their brand, personalized to their customers and made available across multiple devices and apps. The virtual assistant solution accelerator simplifies the creation of your own assistant, enabling you to get started building in minutes.

Learn more and get started building your own branded virtual assistant for your organization.

Azure Bot Service | In preview

Azure Bot Service enforcing transport layer security (TLS) 1.2

On December 4, 2018, the Azure Bot Service will require all connections to be secured using transport layer security (TLS) 1.2.
This enforcement is critical to providing the best possible security for your data. Microsoft, the Payment Card Industry (PCI), and the entire internet community are moving away from TLS 1.0 and TLS 1.1, which have been shown to be vulnerable to determined attackers.
This change will be enforced for all connections to Azure Bot Service servers, either from a chat client or from a bot. It will not yet be enforced for connections from the Azure Bot Service to bots.

More Information

The vast majority of connections to the Azure Bot Service already use TLS 1.2. The few that do not are from old clients or old operating systems. In most cases, an upgrade to a newer browser or a patch to the operating system is all that’s required to enable TLS 1.2.

We’ll still allow bots to accept the older protocols but that won’t be available in the future, so it’s recommended that bot developers configure their servers to accept TLS 1.2 or higher. If your bot is hosted on Azure Web Apps or Functions the change is easy. If your bot is hosted on an older version of Windows, such as Windows Server 2008 or Windows 7 (Windows Server 2008 R2), you will need to install a patch and enable the updated protocols. TLS 1.2 is not supported on Windows Vista and earlier.

The following clients are known to be unable to use TLS 1.2. Update your clients and encourage your customers to do the same to ensure uninterrupted access to the service.

  • Android 4.3 and earlier versions
  • Firefox version 5.0 and earlier versions
  • Internet Explorer 8-10 on Windows 7 and earlier versions
  • Internet Explorer 10 on Win Phone 8.0
  • Safari 6.0.4/OS X10.8.4 and earlier versions

References

Azure Cognitive Services | GA

Azure Cognitive Services—New enhancements

Logo detection in Custom Vision Service

Custom Vision Service now supports logo detection. This new support allows businesses to create their own logo detector with very little expertise.

Translation improvements

The Microsoft Translator API has been updated with new translation systems for Chinese and German from and to English, drastically increasing translation quality and expanding application scenarios. Translation quality for these languages has increased due to Microsoft’s human parity work from Chinese to English.

SQL Server 2014 Service Pack 3 | GA

SQL Server 2014 Service Pack 3 is now available. SQL Server 2014 SP3 contains more than 25 improvements centered around performance, scalability, and diagnostics based on the feedback from customers and the SQL community. These improvements enable SQL Server 2014 to perform faster and scale out of the box on modern hardware design. It also showcases the SQL product team’s commitment to provide continued value into in-market releases. Additional release information can be found in the this blog post and this article.