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Microsoft's Intelligent Data Platform aims to unify data and analytics

A blue pipe with binary data flowing

Microsoft had a bunch of stuff to reveal across its wide range of products today for developers, consumers, and enterprise customers. A key announcement it made concerns the general availability of its Intelligent Data Platform too. The solution aims to unify databases, analytics, and data governance on the cloud enabling customers to rapidly adapt to changing landscapes while continuing to draw insights.

In the same domain, Microsoft Purview Data Policy for SQL DevOps roles has hit preview. It enables data owners to centrally manage and govern their data from Purview. Meanwhile, Purview Data Estate Insights will hit GA in July and will enable Chief Data Officers to get a summary of their data's estate and health, and close gaps in governance. Other preview updates to Purview include new integrations with Adobe Acrobat PDFs and Microsoft Graph APIs.

SQL Server 2022 already became available in preview back in November 2021, and you can now use it in tandem with Azure Synapse Link, Azure Synapse Analytics, and Microsoft Purview. Meanwhile, Azure Cosmos DB now has the following features in preview:

  • Increased serverless capacity to 1 TB
  • Shared throughput across database partitions
  • Support for hierarchical partition keys

There are new ways to try out the service in different environments and use-cases too.

Organizations who use Azure SQL Database can take advantage of three updated capabilities in preview: flexible input and output bindings in Azure Functions, local development environments, along with JSON constructors and ISJSON improvements. The ledger which decentralizes data in Azure SQL Databases and provides other blockchain capabilities - and its associated overhead - without even using blockchain is now GA too.

Microsoft is also rebranding Azure Database for MySQL Flexible Server Memory Optimized service tier to the Business Critical service tier. All of its core capabilities including lower latency, high availability, improved load balancing, and more are now GA.

A brain on a stand

On the Azure AI side of the fence, there are two updates to Azure Cognitive Services. The first is the preview availability of Azure OpenAI Service. This can only be used by "approved" customers for now and can be leveraged to use language models from OpenAI - including base models of GPT-3 - for a bunch of different use-cases. These involve comprehension, code generation, and writing assistance. Secondly, Azure Cognitive Service for Language has been updated to support custom named entity recognition in GA.

The Azure Machine Learning responsible AI dashboard, currently in preview, will allow data scientists to responsibly build AI solutions. It now also includes scorecards which will inform users about the impact responsible AI is making in their solution through various metrics. Managed endpoints in Azure Machine Learning are GA, while AutoML capabilities and the Python SDK v2 is in preview.

Azure Form Recognizer can be used to take advantage of more document processing scenarios while Azure Metrics Advisor has auto-tuning configurations. The latter enables customers to identify anomalies, define sensitivity thresholds, and more. Both of these features are now in preview.

Azure logo new - full color - on dark grey background

On the Azure cloud-native and app platform side of things, Azure Container Apps built on Kubernetes are now GA. Same is the case with Azure Communication Services Mobile UI Library which empowers developers to utilize production-ready mobile components. However, email notifications via Azure Communication Services Email are now in preview.

It's not a major update but Azure Spring Cloud has been rebranded to Azure Spring Apps. Meanwhile, developers can now use Draft 2 to build deployable apps for Kubernetes faster on the Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS). Other preview features include Draft Azure CLI and add-ins for web application routing and Kubernetes-based Event Driven Autoscaler (KEDA).

Moreover, Service Bus Explorer has hit GA on Azure portal, while Azure Private Link, managed certificates, and GraphQL passthrough are now generally supported in Azure API Management. That said, GraphQL Federation and Token Store are in preview.

Meanwhile, Azure App Service contains the following updates:

  • Google Remote Procedure Call (gRPC) support, in preview, makes it possible for customers to host their gRPC apps on Azure App Service. gRPC uses the HTTP/2 protocol to streamline messaging between clients and back-end servers, providing an efficient way to connect services that require high-performance communication.
  • The App Service Landing Zone Accelerator has been released. The Accelerator is a combination of documentation and automation to help customers deploy a reference enterprise scale deployment of Azure App Service on the App Service Environment v3. The combination of documentation and deployable artifacts makes it easier to move enterprise apps from an on-premises environment to Azure App Service.
  • Azure App Service bulk migration capabilities is coming to preview in the coming weeks. This feature will make it possible for customers to not just discover and assess ASP.NET web apps, but categorize which apps are ready for migration, suggest a SKU for migration and provide a guided content and configuration experience for ASP.NET web apps to Azure App Service.

You can read more about these updates here.

Cloud-shaped object stating Microsoft Cloud hanging from the ceiling at a Microsoft event

There is a new landing zone accelerator for customers using Azure Arc-enabled Kubernetes too. Microsoft hopes that these reference implementations will get you up and running in hybrid and multi-cloud environments in no time. Azure Stack HCI, which is used in multi-cloud scenarios, has hit GA too.

Microsoft and F5 have partnered to launch NGINX for Azure. This is currently in preview but offers enhancement traffic monitoring and management capabilities while being tightly coupled with Azure. In the same vein, the Redmond tech giant has also joined forces with Dynatrace to unveil Dynatrace for Azure. This will provide "deep cloud observability for proactive identification and resolution of issues impacting mission critical apps" through integration with Azure. Microsoft cloud customers can also take advantage of AIOps-powered Smart Maps in Azure Monitor to detect and diagnose app performance issues.

On the Azure confidential computing front, customers can leverage DCsv3 virtual machines (VMs) with Intel Software Guard Extensions (SGX). These are GA.

Finally, for cloud migrations and the overall streamlining of the process, the following features are now available on Azure:

  • Agentless discovery and grouping of dependent Hyper-V virtual machines (VMs) and physical servers to ensure all required components are identified and included during a move to Azure. This feature is generally available.
  • Azure SQL assessment improvements for better customer experience. Assessments now include recommendations for SQL Server on Azure VMs and support for Hyper-V VMs and physical stacks, along with already existing assessments for Azure SQL Managed Instance and Azure SQL Database. This feature is in preview.
  • Pause and resume of migration function has been included to provide control over the migration window. This mechanism can be used to schedule migrations during off-peak periods. This feature is in preview.
  • Discovery, assessment and modernization of ASP.NET web apps to native Azure Application Service. Customers can discover and modernize an ASP.NET web app to Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS) Application Service Container and discover Java apps running on Apache Tomcat.

You can read more about these updates here.

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