Cloud Platform Release Announcements for April 29, 2015

Cloud Platform Release Announcements for April 29, 2015

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 SQL DB Service Tier Advisor GA

Azure SQL DB capabilities to work with large number of databases (Public Preview of Codenames Malmo and Fleet Management)  
  • Azure SQL DB Transparent Data Encryption Pub Preview
  • Azure SQL DW preview in summer 2015
  • Microsoft Azure Data Lake Sneak Peak
  • Azure Site Recovery Free Trial
  • Azure App Service Environment Pub Preview
  • Azure Marketplace  Feature Enhancements
  • Azure Service Fabric Developer Preview
  • Microsoft Intune Update
  • Azure AD Device Registration GA
  • Azure AD Self Service Application Requests & Reporting APIs
  • .NET 2015
  • Visual Studio 2015 RC
  • Visual Studio Code (Preview)
  • Azure Resource Manager support for VMs, Storage and Networking (Preview)
  • Additional Announcements for Visual Studio
  • Team Foundation Server 2015 RC
  • Project Oxford


Azure SQL DW preview in summer 2015

Today, at the Build conference, we are pleased to preannounce Microsoft Azure SQL Data Warehouse. As part of Microsoft’s extension to Data Warehousing, Azure SQL Data Warehouse is an elastic data warehouse-as-a-service with enterprise-grade features based on SQL Server’s massively parallel processing architecture. It provides customers the ability to scale data, either on prem, or in our cloud. It’s the first enterprise-class cloud data warehouse that can dynamically grow or shrink compute in seconds independently of storage enabling customers to only pay for the query performance they need when they need it.  SQL Data Warehouse enables customer to use their existing T-SQL skills to integrate queries across structured and unstructured data.  SQL Data Warehouse integrates with our existing data platform tools including Azure HDInsight, Azure Machine Learning, Azure Data Factory and Power BI for a complete data warehousing and business intelligence solution in the cloud.  With SQL Data Warehouse, customers have a choice about where to keep their data, based on performance, security and scale requirements, enabled by SQL Data Warehouse either in the cloud or on-premises. Sign-up to be notified once the public preview is available.


Microsoft Azure Data Lake Sneak Peak

At the Build conference, we are pleased to preannounce Microsoft Azure Data Lake. As part of Microsoft’s big data and analytics portfolio of products, Azure Data Lake is a hyper scale repository for big data analytic workloads. It provides organizations a single place to store every type of data prior to any formal definition of schema or transformation requirements. Azure Data Lake is a Hadoop File System compatible with HDFS and provides no fixed limits on account or file size and massive throughput to increase analytic performance. This will allow big data analytic engines like Azure HDInsight, Hortonworks, or Cloudera to mine Azure Data Lake for new insights. 

- HDFS for the cloud: Azure Data Lake is a Hadoop File System compatible with HDFS that works with the Hadoop ecosystem including Azure HDInsight, Hortonworks, and Cloudera. 

**No fixed limits on file or account size**: Azure Data Lake has no fixed limits on file or account size.  While other cloud storage offerings might restrict individual file sizes to a few terabytes, Azure Data Lake can store very large files hundreds of times larger while still providing very low latency.  
  • Optimized for massive throughput: Azure Data Lake is built for running large analytic systems that require massive throughput to query and analyze petabytes of data. You need only focus on the application logic and throughput can be tuned to meet the needs of the application.
  • High frequency, low latency, real-time analytics: Azure Data Lake is built to handle high volumes of small writes at low latency making it optimized for near real-time scenarios like website analytics, Internet of Things (IoT), analytics from sensors, and others
  • Store data in its native format: Azure Data Lake is built as a distributed file store allowing you to store relational and non-relational data without transformation or schema definition. This allows you to store all of your data and analyze them in their native format.

For more information, go to


Azure SQL DB Service Tier Advisor GA

Moving your databases from the retired Web or Business tiers to the new tiers is now even easier with the new service tier advisor. Using this new tool, you can now assess your performance needs for individual databases within the Basic, Standard, or Premium tiers. The service tier advisor analyzes the performance and feature requirements for individual Web and Business databases and provides insights to help you choose the right Basic, Standard, and Premium tier and performance level for your database upgrade. A migration cookbook is also now available to help guide you through the upgrade process.

For more information about upgrading retired Web and Business editions to the new service tiers, please visit the Web and Business edition upgrade webpage.

Azure SQL DB capabilities for SaaS ISVs to manage large numbers of databases

Developers building software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications face a challenge of managing a large volume of databases. For workloads with many databases and unpredictable database resource consumption, the elastic database model gives you the flexibility to support both explosive growth and competitive business models. Instead of overprovisioning databases to meet peak demand, you can use an elastic database pool to let hundreds or thousands of databases leverage resources within a budget that you control. Elastic database tools simplify building and managing applications that scale across lots of databases. The elastic database client library and split-merge tool (previously code-named Elastic Scale) are designed to help you implement database sharding patterns and speed time-to-market. You can also enable coordinated data movement between shards to split or merge ranges of data among different databases to satisfy common scenarios such as pulling a busy tenant into its own shard. Run centralized query operations like reporting and data extractions on a number of databases where the query can return unified results from this database set. Manage and monitor a large volume of databases by running T-SQL script based jobs from the portal including permissions, schema changes, and maintenance.

To learn more about SQL Database, go to the feature webpage.

Azure SQL DB Transparent Data Encryption Pub Preview

Transparent Data Encryption for Azure SQL Database brings the trusted encryption technology found in SQL Server to the latest version of SQL Database (V12), encrypting your database at rest to help further protect against the threat of malicious activity. Transparent Data Encryption performs real-time encryption and decryption of your database, associated backups, and transaction log files. For more information read the Transparent Data Encryption documentation webpage.

Azure Site Recovery (ASR) Free Trial Pricing | Site Recovery webpage
Now we’ve made it easier to try Azure Site Recovery to enable Availability on Demand, and to extend and help protect your datacenter. With Site Recovery, you can quickly help protect applications running on your physical and virtual infrastructure, migrate applications into Azure, create copies of your applications in Azure for dev/test, or run analytics or reporting on replicated applications with a copy of production data. 

Site Recovery helps you avoid the expense and complexity of building and managing your own secondary datacenter, and leverage the power of Azure with a just a few clicks. Now, you can use the powerful replication capabilities of Site Recovery for 31 days at no charge for every new application or VM that you replicate.

Please note that the 31 day free offer trial for VMware to VMware replication between your datacenters isn’t currently available, and will be coming soon. All other Site Recovery scenarios include the first 31 days free for every application or VM you replicate.


Azure App Service Environment Public Preview

Recently we released Azure App Service, a high productivity solution for developers who need to create enterprise-grade web and mobile apps. App Service provides a complete platform as a service solution that enables you to deploy and elastically scale applications in the cloud, and seamlessly integrate them with on-premises resources and SaaS based applications. Today, we are excited to announce the Public Preview of Azure App Service Environment, a new Premium service plan option for applications requiring high scale and direct corporate connectivity.  Developers can enjoy the extensive features and devops flexibility of Azure App Service while benefiting from expanded scaling head-room with the introduction of new P4 compute resources (8 Cores and 14GB Ram).  Apps gain secure, direct access over virtual networks to their most sensitive corporate resources connected via Site-to-Site or ExpressRoute connections. The base environment contains two P2 frontends and two P1 compute resources created in a customer’s Virtual Network.   Customers can scale out front end and compute resources independently using combinations of P1 – P4 instances. Customers also pay only for what is used at $0.10 per core per hour (preview pricing), with up to 50 total instances inside each environment. For even greater scale, run multiple App Service environments with Traffic Manager.

Azure Marketplace Feature Enhancements

The Azure Marketplace recently added new features and enhancements that help ISVs get to market faster and makes it easier for customers to discover and purchase applications and services. Partners interested in publishing a single virtual machine in the Azure Marketplace benefit from increased capacity and automated processes, which minimizes their time to market and investment to partner with Azure. Customers looking to purchase applications and services to run on Azure can now use enhanced search functionality and filters to easily find the solution they need, and can deploy free versions when available for evaluation purposes without a payment instrument on record. Visit and learn more.


Azure Service Fabric Developer Preview

On April 20th we announced Azure Service Fabric, a new, high-control PaaS platform that enables developers and ISVs to build and operate cloud services with a high degree of scalability and customization. Azure Service Fabric is a mature technology that we are making available to customers for the first time, having powered Microsoft products and services for more than 5 years.

Service Fabric offers the following benefits:

- It supports creating both stateless and stateful microservices – an architectural approach where complex applications are composed of small, independently versioned services – to power the most complex, low-latency, data-intensive scenarios and scale them into the cloud.

Provides the benefits of orchestration and automation for microservices with new levels of app awareness and insight.  
  • Solves hard distributed systems problems like state management and provides application lifecycle management capabilities so developers don’t have to re-architect their applications as usage grows.
  • Includes Visual Studio tooling as well as command line support, which enables developers to quickly and easily build, test, debug, deploy and update their Service Fabric applications on single-box deployments, test deployments and production deployments.

A developer preview of Service Fabric will be released at BUILD, allowing any developer to evaluate the technology on a single PC. For more information visit the Azure Service Fabric page.

Microsoft Intune Update

On April 21st, we began to release a service update for Microsoft Intune that includes new features such as management of the Office mobile apps (Word, Excel, and PowerPoint) for Android tablets, ability to restrict access to Exchange on-premises for Exchange ActiveSync clients on Android devices, ability to create WiFi profiles with pre-shared keys (PSK) for Android devices, ability to deploy .appx bundles to Windows Phone 8.1 devices, and more. You can view the full list of new features by visiting the Microsoft Intune blog.


Azure AD Device Registration GA

Azure Active Directory Device Registration enables users’ to enroll devices to their organization’s directory and create a device identity for it.  Azure Active Directory will recognize this device after the registration and that allows the creation of security policies that will verify the state of a device before allowing access to resources such Office 365, SharePoint online and others


Azure AD self-service application requests & reporting API

Two more new capabilities are available in public preview by Azure Active Directory. The first one is the “self-service application request” feature through which administrators can provide a list of SaaS applications to users and they can pick the ones they want to use and either have them available immediately or after an approval workflow. The second capability is the release of a reporting API that will make data of every security report of Azure Active Directory available to other monitoring or SIEM tools.


Azure Resource Manager Support for VMs, Storage and Networking (Preview)

Azure Resource Manager Support for Virtual Machines, Storage and Networking will be in public preview at //build. Azure Resource Manager templates enable single click deployments of complex applications into a resource group. A resource groups can contain all elements of an application and can be managed as a single unit providing granular access control via role based authentication and control (RBAC). Furthermore, you have ability to tag resources so you can better manage resources with a granular understanding of costs. We will have also have a starting set of more than 80 templates available in GitHub at preview release.

As part of our Azure Resource Manager availability, we are announcing partnerships across a broad set of PaaS, orchestration and management partners building on the new scalable Resource Manager for IaaS, including Cloud Foundry, Mesosphere, Juju, Apprenda, Jelastic and Scalr. At //build we will make available templates for Apprenda and Mesosphere directly in GitHub. We will announce support for the remaining partners on the platform over the coming weeks.

The initial set of templates will also include many open-source solutions from many sources, including a template for MySQL, Chef, ElasticSearch, Zookeeper, MongoDB, and PostGreSQL.


Build vNext Preview Pre-Announce

Microsoft demonstrated a preview of “v.Next” of the Visual Studio Online Build service which will be available to all users in the coming weeks. The next generation build system will enable teams to more easily create custom build workflows by introducing reusable tasks and leverages a lightweight, web-based authoring environment. This build system will also be capable of building code from external systems such as GitHub by leveraging the REST API’s and service hooks infrastructure available in Visual Studio Online. Finally, a new cross-platform build agent will allow teams to run builds on non-Windows machines. This makes it possible for the first time to build on Linux machines and for iOS / OSX by running builds on Macs.

Visual Studio 2015 RC

Microsoft made available the release candidate (“RC”) of Visual Studio 2015, marking a major milestone on the path to its general availability (“GA”) later this summer. Visual Studio 2015 RC delivers new capabilities to help any developer achieve more, and will extend that productivity and power across multiple platforms – from Windows to Linux to iOS and Android – to meet the demands of today’s diverse mobile-first, cloud-first world.  With Visual Studio 2015 RC developers get both bug fixes and new functionality that was not previously available in past Preview and CTP releases, and includes a go-live license, making it ready for usage on production projects.

Product Highlights:

- Visual Studio 2015 RC: Visual Studio 2015 release candidate will be released with new capabilities and SKUs.  As was previously announced this will be the first release that will have the new Visual Studio Enterprise SKU that replaces the existing Premium and Ultimate SKUs.

**Visual Studio Tools for Windows 10 (Insider Preview):** Build the next generation of Windows apps and games for the Universal Windows Platform that run across all Windows 10 devices, including phones, tablets, PCs, Xbox, Internet of Things and HoloLens.     
  • Cross-platform mobile development: Build cross-platform mobile apps that run on multiple platforms including Android, iOS and Windows. With Visual Studio 2015, developers can choose from options such as Visual Studio Tools for Apache Cordova, Visual C++ cross-platform library development, or build native apps using C# in conjunction with Xamarin, now including its free edition as part of Visual Studio 2015.
  • Cross-platform server development: Build cross-platform server applications with your choice of language and deployment platform such as Windows or Linux servers. With Visual Studio 2015 you can use the programming language of your choice including rich tooling support for Python, Node.js, or Microsoft’s newest managed language solution based on .NET Core 5 which supports Windows, Linux and Mac OS X. The preview of the Visual Studio Tools for Docker also helps developers to deploy their .NET Core applications directly to Docker containers.
  • Innovation for Productivity: Visual Studio 2015 contains many improvements to help developers be more productive, and take advantage of newer developer hardware capabilities. Visual Studio 2015 introduces a much richer debugging experience, now with integrated advanced capabilities such as performance monitoring and historical debugging in the same experience. In addition we’ve added many new features for managed developers through the .NET Compiler Platform, such as Light Bulbs to help fix common code issues, improved refactoring tools and live code analysis that automate code fixes as you type.

For the complete list of features in Visual Studio 2015 RC, including those that shipped in previous pre-release versions see our comprehensive release notes.


Team Foundation Server 2015 RC

We announced the release candidate (“RC”) of Team Foundation Server 2015, marking a major milestone on the path to its general availability (“GA”) later this summer. Team Foundation Server 2015 RC gives on-premises customers many of the same innovations that are being continuously delivered in Visual Studio Online for agile team collaboration and DevOps, such as the new agile planning and Kanban enhancements and the next generation build system that builds any application on Windows, Linux or the Mac.

Product Highlights:

- Agile Planning Improvements: Taskboards will show bugs regardless of process template. Updated Kanban features include inline editing right on the board, reordering of items and the ability to specify a definition of done for each of the columns.

**Quick Code Editing:** Users will directly edit code files using their web browser, through the web access interface. Changes to files will be committed back to the source code repository without the need for additional tools.  
  • Server Extensibility: REST APIs will be available, enabling customers and the community to develop custom solutions, making it possible to extend and integrate Team Foundation Server into almost any scenario. In addition, service hooks are also provided, making it easy to integrate with external services such as Trello or Campfire, or build your own app experience that is instantly notified when events are triggered such as completed builds, commits/check-ins, or work item changes.
  • Expanded Basic License: Users with a “Basic” license to Team Foundation Server will have access to web-based test execution, Team Rooms, work item chart authoring, and Agile portfolio planning tools.
  • Build vNext (Preview): Preview release of the new build automation system in Team Foundation Server will enable you to define builds in a web browser, reuse a rich gallery of reusable and extensible build tasks, support for Ant, Maven and Gradle out of the box, and the ability run your build agent on Windows, Linux or the Mac. 
  • SonarQube: SonarQube is the defacto open source software (OSS0 solution for controlling technical debt. Builds in Team Foundation Server and Visual Studio Online will send code analysis and coverage data to SonarQube for deep analysis and problem prioritization.


.NET 2015

We announced a series of updates to the .NET 2015 story.  See the bulleted list of items below for details.

Cross-platform distribution for Linux and Mac: In November 2014, we announced that the next release of .NET will bring in a new era of development by enabling developers to build .NET cloud applications on multiple platforms. At Build 2015, we will deliver the next milestone in our .NET 2015 vision, announcing the availability of both the full .NET Framework 4.6 (RC) for Windows and the .NET Core 5 (Preview) runtime distribution for Linux and Mac OS X. The .NET Core implemented and supported by Microsoft and developed as open source, in close collaboration with the developer community. Developers can now install a preview of the .NET Core support for Linux and Mac OS X and get involved in the associated open source project, overseen by the .NET Foundation. 

  • ASP.NET 5 (Beta 4) and Entity Framework 7 (Beta 4): Both frameworks have been designed from top to bottom to be ready for cloud deployments by reducing memory footprint and increasing the throughput. Both are also Open Source, cross-platform and are able to run on the traditional .NET Framework 4.6 and the new cloud-optimized .NET Core 5.

Visual Studio Code (Preview)

Microsoft unveiled Visual Studio Code, a free cross-platform code editor for building modern web and cloud applications. It extends the Visual Studio family by offering a lightweight code editor that runs on Mac OS X, Linux and Windows. Visual Studio Code redefines code editing, providing a streamlined & fast coding experience with rich code assistance and navigation for multiple languages, with an enhanced set of features for developers building JavaScript, TypeScript, Node.js and ASP.NET 5 applications. Visual Studio Code preview will be available for developers to download on April 29th 2015.

Additional Announcements for Visual Studio

We will also made other developer announcements outside of Visual Studio, Team Foundation Server and .NET. This includes a new lightweight code editor, cross-platform analytics capabilities, updated release management technologies and more.

- Visual Studio Application Insights (Public Preview): At the Build conference, we will be announcing that the Application Insights service will be moving into Public Preview in addition to integration of crash analytics from iOS and Android apps from our HockeyApp acquisition as native capabilities of the Application Insights services.  As part of the public preview announcement, we will be publicly disclosing pricing & business model details to help customers prepare.

**Release Management as a Service (Pre-Announce):** Microsoft will demo the next set of major improvements in the Release Management Service of Visual Studio Online, coming in preview this summer. Updates to Release Management will include a web interface and the ability to deploy apps compiled in the Visual Studio Online Build system through Chef, Docker or Azure resource groups, as well as to on premise servers from Visual Studio Online.  
  • Visual Studio 2013 Update 5 (RC): Announcing the latest in a cumulative series of technology improvements and bug fixes for Visual Studio 2013 and Team Foundation Server 2013. In this release we’ve fixed numerous bugs and known issues for both products, and added two additional features to Team Foundation Server 2013. For full details and download instructions see our release notes.
  • TypeScript 1.5 (Beta): TypeScript 1.5 has been through several iterations, as part of this release we’re sharing part of the work completed with the AngularJS team to improve integration with dynamic libraries, richer ES6 support and other language improvements like for-of support for better iteration, Unicode support and more. We’re also announcing a growing tooling ecosystem with a new added plug-in for Sublime Text, and the enhanced experience for TypeScript in Visual Studio Code.
  • Python Tools for Visual Studio 2.2 (RC): Python Tools for Visual Studio is an official Microsoft open-sourced extensions that enables first-class Visual Studio tooling support for Python projects. Today we’ve released an update to Python 2.2 beta that adds support for Visual Studio 2015 RC. Learn more and download the extension here.
  • Azure SDK 2.6 (RTM): Azure SDK 2.6 continues to build on innovations in previous releases, including improvements to diagnostic capabilities and updated tooling for API apps released in SDK 2.5.1. In addition we’ve added new features to tooling for HDInsight, Service Bus and Azure Resource Manager. For full details see this blog post.
  • Visual Studio 2015 RC Tools for Docker (Preview): A new Visual Studio extension that enables developers to publish ASP.NET 5 web and console applications to a Linux virtual machine hosting the Docker engine.
  • Azure Cloud Code Analysis Pack (Beta): This NuGet package uses the code analysis capabilities of the .NET Compiler Platform in Visual Studio 2015 RC to identify coding patterns which cause performance, scalability or security problems with your Azure applications. By adding the Microsoft Code Analysis for Azure NuGet Package to your project you can detect code issues in real time as the code is being written in the editor. Some code analysis rules also suggest automatic fixes to your code.
  • Office Developer Tools for Visual Studio 2013 (RTM): This release updates the Office Developer tools in Visual Studio 2013, with new capabilities such as support for Service Bus SAS connection string for remote event debugging and Improved SharePoint version re-targeting.
  • New Visual Studio Online Extensibility Model: Microsoft is introducing a new extensibility model for Visual Studio Online that enables partners and developers to extend the Visual Studio Online web access interface with new capabilities that can be integrated directly into the user experience.


Project Oxford

Microsoft announces new machine learning services for developers

Available in beta today, Project Oxford is a new collection of Microsoft’s evolving portfolio of machine learning powered REST APIs and SDKs. These new APIs enable developers to easily implement intelligence features -- such as images, speech and text -- that can detect, interpret and gain insights from data into their applications without having to be machine learning experts.

Today’s beta release includes REST APIs and client SDKs for four services: Face APIs, Vision APIs, Speech APIs and Language Understanding Services (LUIS).

Project Oxford services:

- The Face APIs are Microsoft’s state-of-the-art cloud-based algorithms to detect and recognize human faces in images. Your mobile and PC Apps will be powered with face detection capabilities.

The Speech APIs provide algorithms to process spoken language. With these APIs, developers can easily include the ability to add speech driven actions to their applications. In certain cases, the APIs also allow for real-time interaction with the user as well.  
  • The Vision APIs are a collection of image processing algorithms designed to return information based on the visual content. They can also be used to generate your ideal thumbnail.
  • The Language Understanding Intelligent Service (LUIS) offers a fast and effective way of adding language understanding to applications. With LUIS, you can use pre-existing, world-class, pre-built models whenever they suit your purposes -- and when you need specialized models, LUIS guides you through the process of quickly building them.

For more information, go to