Cloud Platform Release Announcements for June 8, 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:

  • SQL Server 2016 | GA (June 1)
  • Spark on Azure HDInsight | GA
  • Microsoft R Server | R Client GA
  • F Series | GA
  • Azure Premium Storage GA - new geo-availability | CHINA – BJB
  • Availability of FreeBSD in Azure Marketplace | GA
  • Azure IoT Hub | Feature (File Upload)

Unlock insights on any data

SQL Server 2016 | GA (June 1)

On Wednesday, June 1, we announced the general availability of SQL Server 2016, the world’s fastest and most price-performant database for HTAP (Hybrid Transactional and Analytical Processing) with updateable, in-memory columnstores and advanced analytics through deep integration with R Services, and enterprise-ready business intelligence platform including mobile BI on any major mobile device. Software applications can now deploy sophisticated analytics and machine learning models in the database resulting in 100x or more speedup in time to insight, compared to deployments of such models outside of the database.

As detailed in Joseph Sirosh's blog post announcing SQL Server 2016 general availability, SQL Server 2016 offers a new platform for intelligent applications, benchmark leadership through efficient use of modern hardware, an unmatched security record, and unmatched value proposition.

To learn more, read the full blog post and visit the SQL Server webpage.

Spark on Azure HDInsight | GA

This week, we are announcing the general availability of Spark for Azure HDInsight offering customers a Spark solution hardened for the enterprise and made simpler for your users. Apache Spark is one of the most popular big data projects known for its ability to handle large-scale data applications in memory, making queries up to 100 times faster. Spark lets users do various tasks like batch and interactive queries, real-time streaming, machine learning, and graph processing – all with the same common execution model.

Enterprise-ready features of Spark for Azure HDInsight:

  • For high availability, we now offer the highest guarantee for Spark in the market with a 99.9% service level agreement.
  • To ensure that Spark will securely run at scale, we are announcing integration between Spark and Azure Data Lake Store so that Spark will encounter no bottlenecks and won’t be forced to make changes to your application/code as the data gets bigger.
  • To enable security with Spark, we are enabling role-based data access at the storage level through the integration of Spark and Data Lake Store.

Simplifying Spark experiences:

  • For the data engineer, we introduced deep integration with the IntelliJ IDE. This allows developers to code with native authoring support for Scala and Java, remote debugging, and the ability to submit Spark applications to the Azure cloud.
  • For data scientists, we introduced out-of-the-box integration with Jupyter (iPython) notebooks allowing you to create narratives that combine code, statistical equations, and visualizations that tell a story about the data.
  • For the business analysts, we offer integration with Power BI alongside other BI tools like Tableau, SAP Lumira, and QlikView.

You can find out more about Spark for Azure HDInsight here.

Microsoft R Server | R Client GA

Microsoft R Server is the most broadly deployable enterprise-class analytics platform for R available today. Supporting a variety of big data statistics, predictive modeling and machine learning capabilities, R Server supports the full range of analytics – exploration, analysis, visualization and modeling based on open source R.

By using and extending open source R, Microsoft R Server is fully compatible with R scripts, functions and CRAN packages, to analyze data at enterprise scale. We also address the in-memory limitations of open source R by adding parallel and chunked processing of data in Microsoft R Server, enabling users to run analytics on data much bigger than what fits in main memory. And since R Server is built on top of Microsoft R Open, you can use any open source R packages to build your analytics.

R Server for Hadoop on-premises now powered by Spark, as the leading solution in the world to run R at scale, R Server for Hadoop will support both Microsoft R and native Spark execution frameworks available in June. Combining R Server with Spark gives users the ability to run any of their open source R functions over thousands of Spark nodes letting you train your models on data 1000x larger and 100x faster than was possible with open source R and nearly two times faster than Spark’s own MLLib.

Transform the datacenter

F Series | GA

New Compute Optimized VMs, F Series available

We listened to feedback from our customers and partners for VMs sizes on Azure that are optimized for higher computing power, better price performance for workloads that are compute intensive and do not require a lot of memory or local SSD. F Series has been designed with this in mind and is best suited for workloads such as web servers, gaming servers, analytics and batch processing. It is based on Intel’s Haswell processor (2.4 GHz Intel Xeon E5-2673 v3), which can achieve clock speeds as high as 3.2 GHz with the Intel Turbo Boost Technology 2.0.

F Series provides the same performance as the current Dv2 VM sizes on Azure with a lower per hour price on an Azure Compute Unit (ACU). These sizes are available with both Standard and Premium Optimized sizes so you can take advantage of the Premium Storage capabilities if your workloads need them. These sizes are available from small one core to 16 core sizes, with 2GB of RAM and 8GB of local SSD per core.

Azure Premium Storage GA - new geo-availability | CHINA - BJB

Azure Premium Storage generally available in China North

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 China North region, as well as these previously announced regions.

Learn more about Premium Storage.

Availability of FreeBSD in Azure Marketplace | GA

Microsoft and FreeBSD are excited to announce the availability of FreeBSD 10.3 in Azure Marketplace. FreeBSD is a powerful operating system used for modern servers, desktops and embedded platforms. Microsoft has a long story of working with and supporting FreeBSD, including in Windows Server Hyper-V, but today we're renewing this commitment by bringing the image to our Azure Marketplace so it can be deployed by Azure customers across our data centers (excluding Azure Government and China) We believe this is an exciting announcement for the FreeBSD community and for the customers running FreeBSD in platforms such as Hyper-V, as well as for ISVs including virtual appliance vendors focused on FreeBSD solutions.

Create the Internet of Your Things

Azure IoT Hub | Feature (File Upload)

Today we are adding a new feature in IoT Hub which allows users to upload files and sensor data from their devices to the cloud. This allows customers whose existing systems produce files too large to send over the telemetry channel to get their files to the cloud without writing custom code. In addition to an easier upload experience, IoT Hub file upload also provides notifications for completed jobs as well as a new operations monitoring category to help debug. More information can be found in the developer guide and you can read more about file upload in the recent Azure IoT Hub Azure blog post.

Empower Enterprise Mobility

Azure AD Premium: Windows 10 Enterprise State Roaming | GA

Enterprise State Roaming in Windows 10, gives users a unified experience across devices. Generally available as a feature of Azure Active Directory Premium, Enterprise State Roaming allows the use of work or school identities to roam user settings and modern app data using Azure cloud for storage across Windows 10 devices. Enterprise users benefit from a unified experience across their Windows 10 devices and are protected from modern app data loss due to hardware failure, theft, or device replacement. Enterprises benefit from enhanced security and better control on the enterprise data. All data are encrypted with Azure RMS before leaving the device.

For more details, please read the Enterprise State Roaming documentation.