Cloud Platform Release Announcements for February 3, 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:

  • Availability of OMS Extension for Linux VMs | Public - Extension Only
  • Azure IoT Hub | Price increase due to GA
  • Azure Premium Storage GA - new geo-availability | East Asia & AU SE- MEL
  • Azure Site Recovery - US Gov | GA
  • DV2 Price Drops | GA
  • Key Vault | GA
  • Power BI Content Pack - February | Troux GA & Azure Search GA
  • Power BI publish to web
  • Power BI gateway - enterprise | GA
  • Power BI mobile apps for iOS and Android update | GA
  • Power BI Windows 10 Universal app | GA
  • SQL Server 2016 | CTP 3.3
  • Virtual Machines and Cloud Services - D-Series - US Gov | GA
  • Visual Studio Code Extension for Apache Cordova | Public Preview
  • Visual Studio Dev Essentials: Azure Credit | GA
  • Visual Studio Dev Essentials: Xamarin University | GA

Availability of OMS Extension for Linux VMs | Public - Extension Only

Ease of onboarding is critical to for massive deployments especially when they are living in Cloud. Azure today, will provide an Operations Management Suite’s extension for Linux machines. This capability will enable Azure users to simply onboard to the Log Analytics service from the Azure management portal. Microsoft Operations Management Suite leverages the log analytics and automation capabilities across physical and virtual machines, using Windows or Linux, in the cloud or on-premises, for seamless IT operations. Now in public preview, this feature is included in Microsoft Operations Management Suite.

Azure IoT Hub | Price increase due to GA

Microsoft Azure IoT Hub Generally Available as of February 3, 2016.

Microsoft Azure IoT Hub provides a secured way to connect, provision, monitor, update, and send commands to devices. Azure IoT Hub enables companies to control millions of Internet of Things (IoT) assets running on a broad set of operating systems and protocols to jumpstart their IoT projects.

Azure IoT Hub helps enable companies to:

  • Establish reliable bi-directional communication with IoT assets, even if they’re intermittently connected, so companies can analyze incoming telemetry data and send commands and notifications as needed
  • Enhance security of IoT solutions by leveraging per-device authentication to communicate with devices with the appropriate credentials
  • Revoke access rights to specific devices, if needed, to maintain the integrity of the system
  • Monitor device connectivity to identify security threats and operational issues as soon as possible
  • Work with common protocols such as HTTP, AMQP, AMPQ over web sockets and MQTT

Azure IoT Hub is available as a standalone service or as one of the services used in Microsoft Azure IoT Suite.

General availability pricing will go into effect on April 1, 2016. For details and pricing for Azure IoT Hub please visit the pricing page.

Azure Premium Storage GA - new geo-availability | East Asia & AU SE- MEL

Azure Premium Storage generally available in additional regions.

Azure Premium Storage is a solid-state drive (SSD)–based storage solution designed to support I/O-intensive workloads. With Premium Storage, you can add up to 64 TB of persistent storage per virtual machine (VM), with more than 80,000 IOPS per VM and extremely low latencies for read operations.

Offering a service-level agreement (SLA) for 99.9 percent availability, Premium Storage is now available in the East Asia and Australia Southeast region, as well as these previously announced regions.

Learn more about Premium Storage.

Azure Site Recovery - US Gov | GA

Azure Site Recovery is generally available.

Site Recovery

Azure Site Recovery provides you with full-featured disaster recovery that is simple, and provides automated protection and replication of your physical and virtual environment. Some must-have advantages Site Recovery furnishes for you are:

  • Ability to help quickly protect critical applications running on physical and virtual infrastructures—including Hyper-V and VMware.
  • Replicate and failover your on-premises applications to Azure, negating the need to build and manage a second datacenter for recovery. Reduce expenses and only pay for compute when you need it.
  • Detect and stage multi-tier applications and restore them as a group, with specified startup ordering and the ability to insert scripts to bypass the need for manual configurations.
  • Perform periodic DR drills and testing without any impact to the production or recovery virtual machine.
  • Have a secured, orderly recovery of services in the event of a site outage
  • Continuous visibility with remote health monitoring and extensibility

The addition of Site Recovery as part of our Azure Backup and disaster recovery features help meet a Government agency’s security rigor and requirements, as well as help meet your hybrid cloud objectives. More updates will become available in the near future as we enable physical Linux and VMWare Linux VM replication scenarios to Azure Storage and/or a secondary datacenter.

For more information on how this service helps extend and protect your datacenter, and enables your hybrid cloud, please visit the Site Recovery documentation page.

For more information on deployment scenarios, workload guidance, and features/requirements, please visit the What is Site Recovery? documentation page.

For more information on best practices, please visit the Prepare for Azure Site Recovery deployment documentation webpage.

DV2 Price Drops | GA

Effective early February 2016, prices for the Dv2-Series for Azure Virtual Machines and Azure Cloud Services will be reduced by 10 to 17 percent, depending on the instance and operating system. These are the latest version of the popular D-Series VMs, and they have CPUs that are 35 percent faster, on average, and are based on the Intel Xeon (Haswell) E5 processors. The price reductions are in the following Azure regions: Australia East, Australia Southeast, Central US, East Asia, East US, East US 2, Japan East, North Central US, North Europe, South Central US, Southeast Asia, West Europe, and West US.

For more details, please read the blog post to learn more.

Key Vault | GA

Azure Key Vault is generally available.

Key Vault

Government agencies using Azure Key Vault will be able to safeguard cryptographic keys and secrets used by cloud applications and services, enhance data protection and compliance:

  • Secure key management is essential to helping protect government data in the cloud.
  • Store keys and small secrets like passwords protected by hardware security modules (HSMs).
  • For added assurance, keys can be stored in HSMs that are validated to FIPS 140-2 Level 2 standard (hardware and firmware).
  • Key Vault is designed so Microsoft doesn’t see or extract your keys.
  • Reduce latency with cloud scale and global redundancy.
  • Protect your cloud application secrets (passwords, connection string, storage account key, SSL certificates etc.) and reduce the risk of them leaking out via source code or configuration files proliferation.

With Key Vault, there's no need to provision, configure, patch, and maintain HSMs and key management software—you maintain all of the control, but we do the work.

  • You can provision new vaults and keys (or import keys from your own HSMs) in minutes and centrally manage keys, secrets, and policies.
  • You maintain control over your keys—simply grant permission for your own and third-party applications to use them as needed.
  • Applications do not have direct access to keys.
  • Developers easily manage keys used for Dev/Test and migrate seamlessly to production keys managed by secured operations.

Key Vault becomes the single place to manage keys and secrets for your important Microsoft first-party services, for third-party services seeking to offer higher assurances, and for your own custom line of business (LOB) Azure-hosted applications. For example, you can:

  • Use Key Vault to store master key(s) for SQL Server with Transparent Database Encryption (TDE).
  • Use client-side Storage SDK to encrypt data using encryption keys stored in Key Vault.

Note there are two tiers: Standard and Premium. Only the Premium tier supports creating HSM-protected keys.

For more examples of what you can do with Key Vault, please visit the What is Azure Key Vault? documentation page.

For more information on how to get started and links to refresh your PowerShell with new Key Vault cmdlets, please visit the Get started with Azure Key Vault documentation page.

Power BI Content Pack - February | Troux GA & Azure Search GA

Power BI continues to make it easier for users to connect to their data, providing pre-built solutions for popular services as part of the experience. This month we added content packs for Azure Search and Troux.

Azure Search for Power BI allows you to monitor and understand the traffic to your Azure Search service. The Azure Search content pack for Power BI provides detailed insights on your Search data, including Search, Indexing, Service Stats and Latency. Connecting Power BI to your Azure Search analytics storage is easy and the analytics will include metrics from the last 30 days for you to explore.

Troux enables businesses to manage technology investments and ensure the greatest impact while minimizing risk. The Power BI content pack allows you to visualize your applications, technologies and capabilities of your current system as well as analysis over time.

Subscribers to these supported services can now quickly connect to their account from Power BI and see their data through live dashboards and interactive reports that have been pre-built for them. Getting started with data visualization and analysis has never been easier, for additional information visit the Power BI blog.

Power BI publish to web

We are announcing the public preview of the exciting new Microsoft Power BI publish to web capability. Microsoft Power BI publish to web allows you to tell compelling stories with interactive data visualizations in minutes.

  • Easily embed interactive Power BI visualizations in your blog and websites or share the stunning visuals through your emails or social media communications.
  • Reach millions of users on any device, anywhere.
  • Edit, update, refresh or un-share visuals with ease.

Real-life industry usage and reference examples, videos, demos, and supporting blog posts and details are now publicly available.

Power BI gateway - enterprise | GA

Microsoft Power BI gateway for enterprise deployments are generally available.

With Power BI gateways, you can keep your data fresh by connecting to on-premises data sources. The gateways provide the flexibility you need to meet individual needs, and the needs of your organization. The Power BI gateway for personal use is designed for use with personal data sets and allows you to refresh your on-premises data quickly without waiting for an IT Admin. In addition to the Power BI gateway for personal use, we are now releasing the Power BI gateway for enterprise deployments. This gateway is used by organizations to serve a large number of users.

Please visit the Power BI blog to learn more about this release or download and learn more about the Power BI gateways here.

Power BI mobile apps for iOS and Android update | GA

This massive mobile update contains major improvements that will help enhance the Power BI mobile experience making it slicker, faster and more fun.

Among the features added we have Real Time Data, R-Tiles, Bing Dashboards and several data consumption improvements.

All these new capabilities and improvements are already available on the Power BI app for Windows 10 Mobile announced just before the end of 2015 and are now introduced also to iOS and Android.

Learn more about the update on the Power BI blog.

Power BI Windows 10 Universal app | GA

The Power BI app for Windows 10 becomes available as a Windows 10 Universal app that can be installed and run on PCs, tablets and phones.

The Power BI universal app for Windows 10 offers a touch-optimized consumption experience for Power BI. With this app you can easily take your data on the go. The great advantage of being a Windows 10 universal app makes Power BI look great on different form factors, starting from a small screen device like your phone or your tablet all the way up to the Microsoft Surface Hub, including Continuum support for Windows Phone.

SQL Server 2016 | CTP 3.3

SQL Server 2016 Community Technology Preview (CTP) 3.3 was released earlier this week. In SQL Server 2016 CTP 3.3, part of our new rapid preview model, we have made enhancements to several features customers can try in their SQL Server 2016 development and test environments. In SQL Server 2016 CTP 3.3, customers will see advancements in several areas, including enhancements to Stretch Database, In-Memory OLTP, Analysis Services DirectQuery models, and Reporting Services web portal.

Set up a SQL Server 2016 CTP preview test environment today! To experience the new, exciting features in SQL Server 2016 and the new rapid release model, download the preview or try the preview by using a virtual machine in Microsoft Azure and start evaluating the impact these new innovations can have for your business.

Virtual Machines and Cloud Services - D-Series - US Gov | GA

D-Series for Azure Virtual Machines, Azure Cloud Services and web/worker roles.

Virtual Machines

There is now expanded support for United States Government agencies with a new series of virtual machine (VM) sizes for Azure Virtual Machines and web/worker roles. The D-Series sizes offer up to 112 GB in memory with compute processors that are approximately 60 percent faster than our A-Series VM sizes (relative to the A1-A7 VM sizes). Even better, these sizes have up to 800 GB of local solid-state drives (SSDs) for blazingly fast disk read/write.

The new sizes offer an optimal configuration for running workloads that require increased processing power and fast local disk input/output (I/O). These sizes are available for both Virtual Machines and Azure Cloud Services.

In meeting US government requirements, this expanded support houses all customer data, applications, and hardware in the continental United States.

Visual Studio Code Extension for Apache Cordova | Public Preview

We are pleased to announce new ways to build, debug and preview Cordova apps using your favorite light-weight text editor (it's your favorite, right?).

With this extension, you can debug hybrid apps, find Cordova-specific commands in the Command Palette, and use IntelliSense to browse objects, functions, and parameters. You can use it with both “stock” versions of the Apache Cordova framework and downstream frameworks like Ionic, Onsen, PhoneGap and SAP Fiori Mobile Client. Because they all use the same Cordova build systems and core runtime, the TACO extension is adaptable to the JavaScript framework of your choice.

In fact, you can even use Visual Studio Code on a project created with the full Visual Studio IDE. For example, imagine creating a Cordova project using Ionic templates with Visual Studio on a Windows machine, then opening it on an OS X or Linux machine using Visual Studio Code—making some edits—then continuing your work in the Visual Studio IDE. No matter which editor you choose, you get the full benefit of debugging, IntelliSense, and language support. How cool is that?

Visual Studio Code + Cordova Tools currently support debugging apps on emulators, simulators, and tethered devices for Android and iOS. If you ask for it (find us on Twitter), Windows support will follow not too far behind. You can also attach the debugger to an app that is already running on a device; the debugger simply uses the application ID to locate the running instance.

Visual Studio Dev Essentials: Azure Credit | GA

As a Visual Studio Dev Essentials member, you’ve got the power of the cloud at your command. Azure’s integrated tools, pre-built templates, and managed services make it easier to build and manage enterprise, mobile, web, and Internet of Things (IoT) apps faster, using skills you already have and technologies you already know.

Use your credit on popular Azure services, including Virtual Machines, Web Apps, Cloud Services, Mobile Services, Storage, SQL Database, Content Delivery Network, HDInsight, and Media Services. All pricing for services uses the standard pay-as-you-go rates shown on the Pricing Calculator.

Here are some ways you can use your $25 every month:

  • Provision and use one S0 Standard Azure SQL Database
  • Use one D2 Windows virtual machine for 95 hours
  • Analyze big data for 24 hours with an A3 Hadoop Insight Cluster
  • Run five Linux D11 virtual machines for 24 hours

Activate your $25 monthly credit today!

Visual Studio Dev Essentials: Xamarin University | GA

Now, members of Visual Studio Dev Essentials have access to Xamarin University Mobile Training. This benefit equips Dev Essentials members with Xamarin University class recordings and materials from Xamarin Mobile Fundamentals Course.

The initial course line-up includes the following lectures, and all the associated materials including interactive lab projects:

  • Intro to iOS 101 and 102
  • Intro to Android 101 and 102
  • Intro to Xamarin.Forms
  • Two guest lectures from industry luminaries (Azure Mobile Services and Intro to Prism)

Activate your Xamarin University Mobile Training through Visual Studio Dev Essentials now!

Learn more here.