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Microsoft announces PyTorch Enterprise for Azure and Spark enhancements for Synapse

At its virtual Build conference this year, Microsoft has a bunch of developer-focused announcements planned across various platforms such as Azure, Power Platform, Teams, Windows, and more. When it comes to Azure, the company has revealed enhancements to the AI module as well as Synapse.

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Azure Bot Service now features an visual authoring canvas where developers can test and debug without major changes to the code. Azure Metrics Service Advisor has hit general availability. This component can be used to detect anomalies in time-series data that it ingests. Meanwhile, Azure Video Analyzer is merging Live Video Analytics and Video Indexer under a shared umbrella. That said, the component is still in preview. Similarly, Azure Cognitive Search, Azure Form Recognizer and Azure Immersive Reader are being grouped into a single category called "Applied AI Services".

When it comes to Azure Cognitive Services, Document Translation is generally available. As the name suggests, this service allows translation of complex documents while retaining their structure. In the same vein, Text Analytics for health has also hit general availability. It allows developers to extract information from unstructured medical data. It features a Question Answering capability too through which users can get answers to their questions from passages of textual data.

Microsoft has enhancements in line for the AI model deployment process as well. To that end, it has announced PyTorch Enterprise which allows customers under the Microsoft Premier and Unified Support for Enterprise program prioritized access to hotfixes and hands-on support. Moreover, Azure Machine Learning managed endpoints is now in preview and enables developers to deploy and operationalize models at scale.

Meanwhile, numerous updates have hit Azure analytics tools in preview stage. Azure Synapse Link for Dataverse allows developers to bring their Dataverse environments to Synapse for enrichment of data, among other things. Azure Purview now packs support for Azure Database for MySQL as well as PostgreSQL for data governance. Azure Synapse supports the Spark 3.0.1 runtime which brings performance boosts.

Similarly, developers utilizing Azure Cosmos DB will be happy to hear a bunch of announcements for their interest too. Starting with features scheduled for preview releases, Partial document update - which enables exactly what it says - will be available as preview soon and those interested can sign up here. The Azure Cosmos DB Linux emulator allows developers to utilize the service on their Linux and macOS environments. An integrated cache for Azure Cosmos DB can be set up under hourly billing. Finally, Always Encrypted ensures that data is encrypted in the client app before being saved in the database.

Speaking of features hitting general availability for Azure Cosmos DB, a serverless pricing model is out for all APIs for customers looking to save money in apps with moderate amounts of traffic. Moreover, the free tier is being expanded with increased throughput and storage. Finally, role-based access control (RBAC) is available too.

New cost models have been announced for Azure Database for PostgreSQL and MySQL. This includes a Flexible Server coming soon that gives 12 months of the aforementioned services for free with up to 750 hours of usage to new Azure users. Those testing Hyperscale (Citus) will be pleased to know that a basic tier is available in preview in some regions for cost-effectiveness. Lastly, ledger capabilities are present in Azure SQL Database, and can be previewed now.

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