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Microsoft brings DALL·E 2 to Azure OpenAI, launches new employability program, and more

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Just as it does at each one of its developer-oriented Ignite conferences, Microsoft has announced a bunch of new capabilities for its Azure cloud in the 2022 edition as well.

Starting off with Azure Cognitive Services, DALL·E 2 is now available for select customers through a preview in Azure OpenAI. For those unaware, the model allows the generation of images via a text or image input. Better text summarization capabilities in over 90 languages are now present in Azure Cognitive Service for Language too.

Meanwhile, Image Analysis 4.0 and Spatial Analysis on the Edge are two tools ready for preview in the computer vision space. They will offer better feature extraction and analysis with a focus on safety and security. Furthermore, Azure Cognitive Service for Speech is getting new customization features such as more languages and emotions too. You can read more about all the updates to Azure Cognitive Services here.

Azure Form Recognizer has a couple of preview capabilities as well, including content extraction from contracts and support for 275 languages.

On the Azure Machine Learning side, we have registries, Azure Container for PyTorch, Azure Data Science Virtual Machines for PyTorch, and Apache Spark pools integration available as preview. The generally available capabilities include automated machine learning features and Python SDK v2. The Responsible AI dashboard is set to become generally available soon too.

Microsoft had some updates to share regarding its low-code industrial AI development platform "Project Bonsai" as well. There are a bunch of new capabilities in preview including action masking, training from data with OfflineRL, model-based training acceleration, Assessment 2.0, and Bonsai Samples in Azure Marketplace. It has also added Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) as a partner in this initiative.

A infographic showing Microsofts Intelligent Data Platform

Coming over to the Azure Data side of things, Microsoft announced a bunch of new partner solutions in multiple domains for its Intelligent Data Platform. This includes MongoDB and YugabyteDB for databases, Qlik, Informatica, Fivetran, and more for analytics, and Onetrust, Delphix, and others for data governance.

On the databases end, Azure CosmosDB has better performance through the Citus engine and support for documents larger than 16MB in Azure CosmosDB for MongoDB. Meanwhile, Azure Database for PostgreSQL has a preview feature in tow in the form of support for customer-managed encryption keys (CMEK) for data at rest. And Azure Database for MySQL now sports a preview for Autoscale IO. As the name suggests, it manages IO dynamically and you only pay for the IO that you use.

As expected, Azure Synapse Analytics is also getting more capabilities soon. This includes a pipeline template for connectivity to Microsoft 365 data and an improvement to the Copy Activity functionality through a tool called Mapping Data Flows. Meanwhile, R language is now supported in preview form in Azure Synapse while a new version of SynapseML is generally available.

Azure Data Explorer is adding support for new data ingestion types, including Amazon S3, Azure Event Grid, Azure Synapse Link, and OpenTelemetry Metrics. It can also read and write in the open standard Parquet and Delta formats. Additionally, the SAP Change Data Connector (CDC) for Azure Data Factory is now generally available. Finally, Microsoft Purview Data Governance has new features such as SQL Dynamic lineage, Metamodels, and machine learning-based classifications for more data formats in preview.

Shifting gears to Azure hybrid, multi-cloud, and edge, we have a single sign-on experience (SSO) experience integrated with Azure Active Directory (AAD) on Azure Arc-enabled SQL Server along with better security through Microsoft Defender. There are more hybrid deployment options for Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS) as well. Meanwhile, Azure Stack HCI has a new release featuring improved Azure remote support, ​Azure Marketplace for VM self-service, and ​Graphics processing unit partitioning (GPU-P) with live migration in preview, along with intent-based network automation with Network ATC being generally available.

On the Azure infrastructure track, Azure Automanage is available for for Azure Arc-enabled servers and Azure virtual machines, and there are flexible orchestration options for Virtual Machine Scale Set and Spot Virtual Machines for more cost-saving too. Similarly, Azure Premium SSD v2 is generally available while Azure Elastic SAN (storage area network) is now in preview.

Over on the monitoring side, Azure Monitor has cost optimizations for logs and predictive autoscale for Virtual Machine Scale Sets. Azure Monitor Agent (AMA) now supports Windows 10 and Windows 11 through the Windows client installer and also has an agent migration tool, now in preview. In the same vein, alert rule recommendations will be offered too.

In the networking space, Azure Domain Name System (DNS) private resolver and Azure public multi-access edge compute (MEC) are generally available. Microsoft is also expanding Azure Hybrid Benefit and is offering the Windows admin center through the Azure portal as well. Additionally, Microsoft will soon offer a savings plan for compute that will enable customers to take advantage of a fixed hourly rate for all compute as long as they sign up for a commitment. Finally, Nutanix Cloud Clusters are generally available too.

Customers of Azure VMware Solution will likely be pleased to find out that stretched clusters now provide 99.99% private cloud uptime in preview. Customer managed keys (CMK) are supported as well, offering easier management, rotation, and integration with Azure Monitor and Azure Log Analytics.

Screenshot showing a developer deploying a dev box

Finally, when it comes to DevOps and other developer tools on Azure, we have a whole bunch of updates. We have listed them below for brevity and you can view more details via the embedded link, where available:

Last, but definitely not the least, Microsoft is launching an employability program to bridge the gap between job seekers and the Microsoft partner and customer ecosystem. The former will be able to upskill themselves through self-paced trainings on Microsoft Learn and will be able to showcase this proficiency on LinkedIn. They will also be invited to a private LinkedIn group where employers will be able to directly engage with them.

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