Azure Service Updates 2015-10-02 Summarized

Much of the below is known for the AzureCon 2015 visitors but I will summarize the info from Microsoft below.

  • Azure HDInsight makes Apache Hadoop on Linux generally available: For those planning to use Linux as Hadoop clusters for handling big data information this is generally available and will have its SLA levels guaranteed.
  • Azure Mobile Engagement generally available: haven’t personally tried this yet (subject for future blog entry?). Microsoft summarizes the functionality as follows: “Azure Mobile Engagement is a SaaS-delivered, data-driven user-engagement platform that enables real-time and fine-grain user segmentation, app-user analytics, and context-aware, smart push notifications across all connected devices. You can maximize your app usage, retention, and monetization with this powerful platform. It allows developers, app owners, and line-of-business decision makers to directly contact app users in a personal, context-aware, and nonintrusive way—exactly when it makes the most sense for both parties. Comprehensive analytics go beyond typical key performance indicators (KPIs), highlighting the data to capture, track, analyse, and act on for improving engagement precisely when customers need your products or services.”. Read more at

AzureMobile Engagement

  • Azure File Storage generally available. This feature enables file shares based on SMB 3.0 standard. It allows file shares that can be accessed both from on premise and from the cloud. It may help you get those legacy systems up and running in Azure.  Read more about file storage here.
  • Visual Studio Online Build and Deployment generally available. Visual Studio online is a service that is not talked about enough. I have myself been using it for almost a year now and the benefits of having a TFS in the cloud and available everywhere is amazing. With the build and deployment features generally available the possibilities to make the development/build and deployment processes more efficient is right at your fingertips.
  • Live Encoding for Azure Media Services generally available. Media services is another feature little talked about. I have worked with this previously to build an educational platform that allowed users to upload movies to media services and started jobs to encode the source movies into suitable viewing formats for the target audience. At that point the possibilities for live streaming and encoding was non-existing so the new features may help Microsoft Azure to become a complete package for handling all your media streaming needs. Not convinced? Consider that media service was used for the Sochi winter Olympics which worked flawlessly. The new features enabled are:
    • Live encoding of single-bitrate live feeds into adaptive bitrate streams.
    • Ingesting live feeds over RTP protocol (MPEG transport streams), RTMP, and Smooth Streaming.
    • Controlling insertion of slates and signalling ad insertions to clients.
    • Previewing thumbnails of live feeds.
  • SQL Database Elastic Database lowered pricing. Elastic Databases is also something that I should discuss in a separate post. If you have a lot of SQL servers on your subscriptions it might be too tedious to manage scale on individual databases. You can use elastic databases to create and manage databases as a group instead. See a short video that briefly explains it below (note only works with the v12 version of databases).
    Starting today, the following changes are in effect:

    •  eDTU price—the preview price you pay today for eDTUs will be the price you pay at general availability.
    • Database existence fee—to make elastic database pools more flexible, but the database existence fee is removed
  • Microsoft Azure IoT Hub in public preview. The IoT Hub was discussed during AzureCon as a collection of features to manage your IoT solutions with authentication & access rights/device, communication and analyse data.
  • Azure Redis Cache Premium. Many of you have used the Redis Cache to fasten up your web applications. Now a premium version is available to “includes all the Standard-tier features and more, such as better performance, bigger workloads, disaster recovery, and enhanced security”.
  • Azure DocumentDB now supports Order By and online index updates. NoSQL databases are slowly becoming more and more popular. Why store an order in 3-4 relational tables when the order can be stored as an entity itself. “Azure DocumentDB now supports Order By and string range queries, making it even easier to store and query JavaScript Object Notation (JSON) data in Azure. You can sort query results using any string, numeric, or Boolean property in your JSON documents.”
  • New data plans for Azure ExpressRoute: ExpressRoute I find very useful. I will discuss hybrid clouds very soon and ExpressRoute enables you to bypass internet when accessing Microsoft Azure for a more stable connection to Azure. The new data plan will allow you to “choose between unlimited or metered data plans based on your usage. The unlimited data plan allows you to transfer an unlimited amount of data for a fixed monthly charge, while the metered plan is available for a small monthly connection fee with pay-as-you-go charges.”

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