Cloud Platform Release Announcements for November 8, 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.

  • Azure Analysis Services | Scale out
  • Power BI Desktop | Esri Plus—GA
  • Power BI Report Server | October 2017 update—GA
  • Azure API Management announces hourly billing and new basic pricing tier
  • App Service on Azure Stack—GA
  • Azure Batch | Low priority virtual machines (VMs)—GA
  • System Center Preview update
  • Azure Log Analytics | Monitor ExpressRoute connections—public preview
  • Azure Cosmos DB | Storage Explorer + Cosmos DB—public preview
  • Azure SQL DB learns and adapts | Query auto tuning—GA
  • Azure SQL Database | Transactional replication—GA

Azure Analysis Services | Scale out

On November 1, 2017, Microsoft announced the availability of scale out functionality in Azure Analysis Services. With this update, you can interactively set the number of query replicas for your Azure Analysis Services instances to support large numbers of concurrent users—with blazing fast query performance. You can also use scripts to automate scale out of your BI solution based on your peak loads, and scale back your Azure Analysis Services replicates when your workload decreases—and only pay for the resources you use. In addition, you can choose to separate processing from query allowing fine-grained control of the user experience for your semantic model. With query scale out, Azure Analysis Services can be used to tackle your most demanding solutions.

Built on the analytics engine in Microsoft SQL Server Analysis Services, Azure Analysis Services lets you host semantic data models in the cloud, so users in your organization can connect to your data models using tools such as Excel, Power BI, and others to create reports and perform ad hoc data analysis. Find more information in the Azure Blog.  Learn more about this service at the Azure Analysis Services webpage.

Power BI Desktop | Esri Plus—GA

Power BI works with a rich network of partners to create solutions tailored to every need. In June 2017, in collaboration with Esri, a global leader in geospatial information systems, we announced the general availability of ArcGIS Maps for Power BI. 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 2017 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. Read the blog post for more information.

Power BI Report Server | October 2017 update—GA

On November 1, 2017, Microsoft released an update to Power BI Report Server. This release contains great new self-service BI capabilities, including support for data sources other than SQL Server Analysis Services, and viewing and interacting with Excel workbooks.

The June 2017 release of Power BI Report Server gave users the ability to create and publish Power BI reports on-premises by connecting to SQL Server Analysis Services data sources.

With this update, users can create Power BI reports in Power BI Desktop, import data from any data source, and publish their reports to Power BI Report Server.

This update also enables web-based viewing of Excel workbooks in Power BI Report Server, giving business users a single location to publish and view all their Microsoft BI content—Power BI reports, pixel-perfect paginated reports, mobile reports, and Excel workbooks.

Azure API Management announces hourly billing and new basic pricing tier

Azure API Management lets organizations publish APIs more securely, reliably, and at scale. Use API Management to drive API consumption among internal teams, partners, and developers while benefiting from business and log analytics available in the admin portal. This service helps provide the tools your organization needs for end-to-end API management, including:

  • Provisioning user roles.
  • Creating usage plans and quotas.
  • Applying policies for transforming payloads.
  • Throttling, analytics, monitoring, and alerts.

In response to customer feedback, we’re making three important updates to API Management beginning December 1, 2017:

  • A new hourly billing rate, instead of the daily billing rate, makes API Management more accessible and cost-effective to operate. All current customers will enjoy the same, or lower, monthly charges, and will be automatically moved to hourly pricing effective December 1, 2017.
  • In addition to the developer, standard, and premium pricing tiers, a new basic pricing tier will be available. This new, lower-cost tier makes it easier to get started with API Management in a production environment.
  • Azure Active Directory  will now be included with the standard tier.

Learn more about API Management on the overview and pricing webpages.

App Service on Azure Stack—GA

Azure App Service and Functions on Azure Stack is now generally available for customers to deploy and operate on Azure Stack. Azure App Service on Azure Stack offers customers the ability to create powerful cross-platform applications using the enterprise platform-as-a-service (PaaS) and serverless model. With this addition, you can now deploy your application in the environment of your choice with App Service, be it public cloud, virtual network, or on-premises.  Learn more in this blog post.

Azure Batch | Low priority virtual machines (VMs)—GA

Azure Batch | Pricing

Low-priority VMs are now available at a large discount compared to regular on-demand VMs. If Batch applications can tolerate interruption and job execution time is flexible, then using low-priority VMs can significantly reduce the cost of running workloads, or allow much more work to be performed at a greater scale, for the same cost. Many batch processing workloads can take advantage of low-priority VMs, and Azure Batch makes it easy to allocate and manage low-priority VMs, as well as handle any preemptions that occur.

System Center Preview update

A preview of the first semi-annual channel release for System Center Preview is now available for you to try in the Evaluation Center. This update to System Center Preview delivers early access to new features and enhancements based on your feedback, and security updates and bug fixes across all components. This release builds on the capabilities of System Center 2016, and offers you support for the latest version of Windows Server  along with added support for Windows Server 2016. It also includes improved Linux monitoring support, more efficient VMware backup, and improved user experience and performance. See more details.

Azure Log Analytics | Monitor ExpressRoute connections public preview

If your organization has dedicated connections to Azure, you can now monitor the health, uptime, and capacity of your ExpressRoute circuits using the Network Performance Monitor solution in Azure Log Analytics. By monitoring ExpressRoute, you can ensure an uninterrupted user experience, high bandwidth, and secure access to both internal line-of-business applications and services such as Office 365 and Dynamics CRM.

Azure Cosmos DB | Storage Explorer + Cosmos DB public preview

Azure Cosmos DB now comes with a desktop data management tooling offered via Azure Storage Explorer. This is a fast, responsive, cross-platform data management experience for Azure Cosmos DB on Mac, Windows, and Linux, consistent with Azure Cosmos DB Portal. The public preview allows you to manage Cosmos DB entities across multiple accounts, manipulate data, and update stored procedures and triggers. Learn more about this announcement on the Azure blog.

Azure SQL DB learns and adapts | Query Auto Tuning—GA

Artificial Intelligence-powered Azure SQL Database automatic tuning is rolling out as a new default Automatic tuning in Azure SQL Database uses the power of artificial intelligence to provide insight into potential query performance problems forstable and peak performing databases at a large scale through continuous monitoring, identifying and applying tuning actions in a safe and managed fashion. This mature capability, consisting of automated index management and plan regression correction, is rolling out as a new default. Learn more.

Azure SQL Database | Transactional Replication—GA

The transactional replication to Azure SQL Database feature replicates your data from on-premises SQL Server to Azure SQL Databases in one direction. This feature allows you to migrate your on-premises SQL Server databases to Azure SQL Databases with minimum downtime. Learn more details.