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Cloud Platform Release Announcements for December 6, 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.

  • Open Service Broker for Azure | Disclosure
  • Azure Reserved Virtual Machine Instances | GA
  • Microsoft IoT Central | Preview
  • Azure IoT Hub | Device Provisioning Service—GA
  • Azure Virtual Machines | M-series—GA
  • N-series virtual machines | NCv2 and ND—GA
  • Project Honolulu | Preview
  • Announcing R3 on Azure—Strengthening our partnership
  • Azure Cosmos DB | Extending IP firewall in preview
  • Azure Cosmos DB | Graph API Improvements—GA
  • Azure Location Based Services Preview | Disclosure
  • Power BI Desktop | GA
  • Power BI service | GA
  • Azure SQL Database | Three new features now available
  • Visual Studio 2017 | Update
  • Visual Studio for Mac | Update
  • System Center Configuration Manager | Co-management disclosure—GA

Open Service Broker for Azure | Disclosure

The Azure team is proud to announce continued contributions to the Kubernetes Open Source community, further enhancing what customers can do with Kubernetes and Azure. Open Service Broker for Azure (OSBA) and Kashti, two new open source projects from the Azure team, makes it easier to use containers to modernize and manage new and existing applications to drive digital transformation. And the Virtual Kubelet features a pluggable architecture that supports a variety of runtimes, and uses existing Kubernetes primitives, making it much easier to build on.

OSBA is built on the Open Service Broker API, providing a standard way for service providers to expose backing services to applications running in cloud native platforms like Kubernetes and Cloud Foundry. OSBA exposes popular Azure services such as Azure Cosmos DB, Azure Database for PostgreSQL, and Azure Blob Storage. With OSB and the new Kubernetes Service Catalog, customers can manage these SLA-backed Azure data services via the Kubernetes API. Learn more at the OSBA blog and find OSBA at GitHub.

Kashti, is a dashboard and visualization tool for Brigade pipelines, a project recently announced in Prague at the Open Source Summit. Brigade helps developers and operations managers get their work done quickly by scripting together multiple tasks and executing them inside of containers. Kashti extends Brigade with a dashboard UI, built as a Kubernetes service and installed via Helm. With Kashti, developers can easily manage and visualize their Brigade events and projects through a web browser. Learn more at the Kashti blog and find Kashti on Github.

The Virtual Kubelet features a pluggable architecture that supports a variety of runtimes, and uses existing Kubernetes primitives, making it much easier to build on. Back in July, we released the Azure Container Instances (ACI) Connector for Kubernetes, an experimental project to extend Kubernetes with ACI, a serverless container runtime that provides per-second billing and no virtual machine management. The Kubelet can be used by customers to target ACI or any equivalent runtime.

Microsoft continues to invest and be committed to the open source and Kubernetes community to better the experience on Azure.

Azure Reserved Virtual Machine Instances | GA

Launching Azure Reserved Virtual Machine Instances
Azure Reserved Virtual Machine Instances will allow you to reserve virtual machines at extremely low prices on Azure.  Receive savings up to 82 percent lower than pay-as-you-go prices with Azure Hybrid Use Benefit, and up to 72 percent savings for all virtual machines (VMs). Azure Reserved Virtual Machine Instances are flexible and easy to exchange or cancel as business needs evolve. They're also simple to purchase in a few easy steps. Learn more here.

Microsoft IoT Central | Preview

Microsoft IoT Central is a fully managed IoT SaaS (software-as-a-service) solution that makes it easy to create products that connect the physical and digital worlds. Now you can bring your connected product vision to life, then use your connected devices to derive new insights and create better products and experiences for your customers, along with new business opportunities for your organization. Microsoft IoT Central takes the hassle out of managing an IoT solution by removing the management burden, operational costs, and overhead of a typical IoT project.

Microsoft IoT Central is now available in preview, along with our industry-leading, platform-as-a-service (PaaS) solution, Azure IoT Suite, which enables deep customization and full control. With one of the broadest portfolios of IoT offerings that includes Microsoft IoT Central, Microsoft Azure IoT Suite, and Azure IoT Edge, Microsoft can meet the needs of virtually any customer, with any set of requirements, anywhere in the world.

Get started here.

Azure IoT Hub | Device Provisioning Service—GA

The Azure IoT Hub Device Provisioning Service is now available with the same great support you've come to know and expect from Azure IoT services. The Device Provisioning Service enables customers to configure zero-touch device provisioning to Azure IoT Hub, and it brings the scalability of the cloud to what was once a laborious, one-at-a-time process. The Device Provisioning Process was designed with the challenges of the supply chain in mind, providing the infrastructure needed to provision millions of devices in a secure and scalable manner.

With general availability support comes expanded protocol support. Automatic device provisioning with the Device Provisioning Service now supports all protocols that IoT Hub supports: HTTP, AMQP, MQTT, AMQP over websockets, and MQTT over websockets. This release also corresponds to expanded SDK language support for both the device and client side. We now support SDKs in the following languages—C, C#, Java, Node (service for now, device coming soon), and Python (device for now, service coming soon). Get started with the Device Provisioning Service with the quickstart tutorials.

Learn more about all the technical concepts involved in device provisioning.

Azure Virtual Machines | M-series—GA

M-series virtual machines support increased memory, vCPUs, storage, and scale for the most demanding in-memory applications such as SAP HANA.

We're releasing the highest performance Azure Virtual Machines to date, the M-series, optimized for large in-memory workloads such as SAP HANA. The new M-series VMs are designed with very high RAM and vCPU capabilities to meet the most demanding environments. The M-series support up to 128 virtual CPUs (vCPUs) and between 1 tebibyte (TiB) and 3.8 TiB RAM. (Note—3.8  TiB RAM support for the 128 vCPU configuration coming soon.) In addition, these VM instances support Premium Storage to tackle the largest enterprise workloads. The new M-series also incorporates accelerated networking enabling up to 30 gigabits per second (Gbps) VM-to-VM data transfer—great for extremely fast real-time database replication and backups. This new M-series release will eliminate headroom issues in your rapidly growing cloud environment. The M-series VMs will be initially available in the East US 2, West US 2, and West Europe regions. See the latest availability of M-series VMs by region.

N-series virtual machines | NCv2 and ND—GA

The NCv2 and ND virtual machine series have entered general availability.. NCv2 series virtual machines are the next generation of our popular NC-series machines, powered by NVIDIA Tesla P100 GPUs.  Take advantage of these updated GPUs for traditional HPC workloads that will benefit from a performance boost, powering scenarios like reservoir modeling, DNA sequencing, protein analysis, Monte Carlo simulations, and others. These new GPUs can provide more than two times the computational performance of the current NC-series. And like our NC series, we offer a configuration with InfiniBand networking for workloads that require fast interconnect, like Oil & Gas, Automotive, and Genomics to also accelerate scaleout capability as well as improved single instance performance.

ND-series virtual machines are a new addition to the GPU family specifically designed for the needs of the AI and Deep Learning workloads, offering excellent performance for training and inference powered by NVIDIA Tesla P40 GPUs. These instances provide excellent performance for single-precision floating point operations, for AI workloads utilizing CNTK, TensorFlow, Caffe, and other frameworks. The ND-series also offers a much larger GPU memory size (24 GB), enabling larger neural net models. Like our NC-series, the ND-series offers a configuration with a secondary low-latency, high-throughput network through RDMA, and InfiniBand connectivity so you can run large-scale training jobs spanning many GPUs.

For more information, see Azure Virtual Machines.

Project Honolulu | Preview

Project Honolulu is a flexible, locally-deployed, browser-based management platform and solution. It contains core tools for troubleshooting, configuration, and maintenance of Windows and Windows Server. Project Honolulu  Preview will add support for managing Windows 10 in a new computer management solution, a new remote desktop tool for connecting directly to targeted machines, along with some performance improvements and bug fixes. Get more information and download Project Honolulu.

Announcing R3 on Azure—Strengthening our partnership

We recently announced the expansion of our partnership with R3. As financial institutions and financial technologies move their blockchain projects from innovation labs to lines of business, they require a seamless integration between their preferred ledger stack and infrastructure, and a robust set of platform components and tooling in order to develop, manage, and optimize blockchain applications. To meet these growing needs, Microsoft is expanding its strategic partnership with R3 to more deeply integrate R3’s distributed ledger platform, Corda and R3Net, with Azure. Read more here.

Azure Cosmos DB | Extending IP firewall in preview

Azure Cosmos DB Network Security—new IP firewall rule Azure Cosmos DB already supports IP-based firewall rules used to limit database access to specific IP addresses. We are now supporting  a new firewall rule allowing customers to limit access to their Azure Cosmos DB account from services deployed in Azure. Learn more about this new feature.

Azure Cosmos DB | Graph API Improvements—GA

Azure Cosmos DB Graph API: improved support for PHP
The Azure Cosmos DB Graph API now supports the Apache Tinkerpop recommended Gremlin frameworks gremlin-php. Check out our new guide for Quickstart with Azure Cosmos DB Graph API in PHP.

Azure Location Based Services Preview | Disclosure

Azure Location Based Services—Preview—Announcement Pricing | Azure Location Based Services

Microsoft recently announced the launch of the Azure Location Based Services Preview. This new offering provides a portfolio of geospatial service APIs that enable developers, enterprises and partners to create location-aware apps and solutions. Familiar REST APIs and a JavaScript Map Control help enable customers to get their products out the door quickly.

With location and geospatial data becoming increasingly critical for IoT, urban mobility, field service, and logistics use cases, Azure customers will see benefits from having access to integrated capabilities such as:

  • Global maps and map controls.
  • Comprehensive routing options, including commercial scenarios.
  • Geocoding and business search.
  • Dynamic traffic conditions and incidents.
  • Time zone information.

Learn more about this new offering, or sign up directly for the preview trial online. Pricing information for the preview timeframe is also available.


Power BI Desktop | GA

New features and updates are now available in Power BI Desktop.

  • Esri Plus subscription general availability—The integration of Power BI with ArcGIS has allowed us to redefine how business users experience their data using maps and advanced GIS techniques previously available only in specialized tooling. We're excited to announce the general availability of the new Plus subscription for ArcGIS Maps for Power BI with the November release of Power BI Desktop. The Plus subscription allows users to access more maps, global demographics, verified ready-to-use data, and plot even more locations on their maps for compelling visualizations that give perspective and impact decisions. Learn more about the Esri Plus subscription availability.
  • Enhancements to reporting capabilities—Continued improvements to reporting including, for example, rule-based conditional formatting for table and matrix, cell alignment for table and matrix, control visual ordering through the selection pane, lock objects on your report, and filtering performance improvements.
  • Additional custom visuals—New custom visuals are now available, including Image Timeline, Social Network Graph, Venn Diagram, and HTML Viewer.
  • Improvements to analytics and data connectivity—Power BI now supports cell-level formatting for multi-dimensional AS models for a multi-row card, Windows Authentication for the Impala connector, and generating conditional columns transforms as part of the “Add Column From Examples” experience. 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 | GA

Power BI users can seamlessly distribute Power BI apps and dashboards to guest users outside of their organization—recipients are able to securely sign into the service using their own organization’s security credentials or personal email address, while the content owner is able to maintain control over the internal data.

This new feature is the result of Power BI integration with Azure Active Directory (AD) business-to-business (B2B) collaboration. Read more about this integration.

Azure SQL Database | Three new features now available

Azure SQL Database engine functionality updates

Three new Azure SQL Database engine features are now generally available. The Resumable online index rebuild feature allows the ability to pause an operation and resume it later from where the rebuild operation was paused or failed. Database scoped temporary tables allow the use of global temporary tables scoped to specific database that allows sharing tables among all users’ sessions within the same database. The catalog collation feature specifies the default collation for the metadata catalog used for system views and system tables to match the default collation for the database.

Visual Studio 2017 | Update

A new update to Visual Studio 2017 is now available. With every update to  Visual Studio 2017, we listen to your feedback and strive to make improvements that are important to you.

This update reduces project load time, letting you spend more time coding and less time waiting.  We also made it easier to modify your Visual Studio installation by enabling modification through Add & Remove Programs.

For new features, we're bringing you updated mobile app tooling with Xamarin.iOS 11.4 and Xamarin.Android 8.1, and enabling Xamarin Live which lets you continuously deploy, test, and debug your apps directly on iOS and Android devices. We're bringing multiple language improvements to the C++, C#, and F# languages.

For Visual Studio Enterprise 2017 users, we made enhancements to Live Unit Testing and enabled step-back while debugging with IntelliTrace for specific project types. Also, you can now use Snappoints and Logpoints to debug ASP.NET and ASP.NET Core applications running in Azure App Services.

To learn more, read the release notes and download the update today.

Visual Studio for Mac | Update

A new update to Visual Studio for Mac is now available. For mobile developers, the iOS development experience is smoother, with Fastlane integration to automatically set up your devices for development and provisioning. It also fully supports the new iOS 11, tvOS 11, and watchOS 4 APIs. The Visual Studio for Mac updater will now also update previous installations of .NET Core to 2.0. Finally, VSTest support gives Visual Studio for Mac developers an integrated experience for a wide array of popular test frameworks, including MSTest and Xunit.

See the complete release notes. Download the update here or through the Visual Studio for Mac updater.

System Center Configuration Manager | Co-management disclosure—GA

One of the key features in the updated  release of System Center Configuration Manager is co-management, which enables a new and more practical path to transition the management of Windows 10 devices to a modern management approach. While there were a few paths to move to modern management, it wasn’t always easy to make the transition. Some customer scenarios require the ConfigMgr agent, and there are also Windows 7 devices that need to be managed. Many organizations were also looking for a more simplified and manageable way to transition from ConfigMgr and Active Directory to a modern management approach with Intune and Azure Active Directory (AD). This is now possible with co-management.

Starting with the Anniversary Update (June, 2016), a Windows 10 device can be joined to on-premises Active Directory and cloud-based Azure AD at the same time. Co-management takes advantage of this improvement and enables the device to be managed by both ConfigMgr agent and Intune MDM. This allows organizations to move specific workloads of their management to the cloud in manageable chunks. For example, customers can transition device compliance check, resource access policies, or Windows 10 update management from ConfigMgr to Intune while continuing to use ConfigMgr for other workloads such as software distribution and deep device security configuration. Learn more here.