06

Apr

Accelerating innovation: Start with Azure Sphere to secure IoT solutions

From agriculture to healthcare, IoT unlocks opportunity across every industry, delivering profound returns, such as increased productivity and efficiency, reduced costs, and even new business models. And with a projected 41.6 billion IoT connected devices by 2025, momentum continues to build.

While IoT creates new opportunities, it also brings new cybersecurity challenges that could potentially result in stolen IP, loss of brand trust, downtime, and privacy breaches. In fact, 97 percent of enterprises rightfully call out security as a key concern when adopting IoT. But when organizations have a reliable foundation of security on which they can build from the start, they can realize durable innovation for their business versus having to figure out what IoT device security requires and how to achieve it.

Read on to learn how you can use Azure Sphere—now generally available—to create and accelerate secure IoT solutions for both new devices and existing equipment. As you look to transform your business, discover why IoT security is so important to build in from the start and see how the integration of Azure Sphere has enabled other companies to focus on innovation. For a more in-depth discussion, be sure to watch the Azure Sphere general availability webinar.

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02

Apr

New Azure RTOS collaborations with leaders in the semiconductor industry

IoT is reaching mainstream adoption across businesses in all market segments. Our vision is to enable Azure to be the world’s computer, giving businesses real-time visibility into every aspect of their operations, assets, and products. Businesses are harnessing signals from IoT devices of all shapes and sizes, from the very smallest microcontroller units (MCUs) to very capable microprocessor units (MPUs). This presents a great opportunity for collaboration between semiconductor manufacturers with extensive expertise in MCUs/MPUs and Azure IoT, an industry leader in IoT.

It has been nearly one year since we acquired Express Logic and their popular ThreadX RTOS, and last year we announced Azure RTOS that provides customers those capabilities with the leading real-time operating system (RTOS) in the industry.

Today, we’re announcing additional collaborations with industry leaders, which together represent the vast majority of the market for 32-bit MCUs. Their MCUs are embedded into billions of devices from sensors, streetlights, and shipping containers to smart home appliances, medical devices, and more.

STMicroelectronics, Renesas, NXP, Microchip, and Qualcomm will all offer embedded development kits featuring Azure RTOS ThreadX, one of the components of the Azure RTOS embedded application development suite. This allows embedded developers to access reliable, real-time performance

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02

Apr

Announcing server-side encryption with customer-managed keys for Azure Managed Disks

Today, we’re announcing the general availability for server-side encryption (SSE) with customer-managed keys (CMK) for Azure Managed Disks. Azure customers already benefit from SSE with platform-managed keys for Managed Disks enabled by default. SSE with CMK improves on platform-managed keys by giving you control of the encryption keys to meet your compliance need.

Today, customers can also use Azure Disk Encryption, which leverages the Windows BitLocker feature and the Linux dm-crypt feature to encrypt Managed Disks with CMK within the guest virtual machine (VM). SSE with CMK improves on Azure Disk encryption by enabling you to use any OS types and images, including custom images, for your VMs by encrypting data in the Azure Storage service.

SSE with CMK is integrated with Azure Key Vault, which provides highly available and scalable secure storage for your keys backed by Hardware Security Modules. You can either bring your own keys (BYOK) to your Key Vault or generate new keys in the Key Vault.

About the key management

Managed Disks are encrypted and decrypted transparently using 256-bit Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) encryption, one of the strongest block ciphers available. The Storage service handles the encryption and decryption in a fully transparent fashion using envelope

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01

Apr

General availability of new Azure disk sizes and bursting

Today marks the general availability of new Azure disk sizes, including 4, 8, and 16 GiB on both Premium and Standard SSDs, as well as bursting support on Azure Premium SSD Disks.

To provide the best performance and cost balance for your production workloads, we are making significant improvements to our portfolio of Azure Premium SSD disks. With bursting, even the smallest Premium SSD disks (4 GiB) can now achieve up to 3,500 input/output operations per second (IOPS) and 170 MiB/second. If you have experienced jitters in disk IOs due to unpredictable load and spiky traffic patterns, migrate to Azure and improve your overall performance by taking advantage of bursting support.

We offer disk bursting on a credit-based system. You accumulate credits when traffic is below the provisioned target and you consume credit when traffic exceeds it. It can be best leveraged for OS disks to accelerate virtual machine (VM) boot or data disks to accommodate spiky traffic. For example, if you conduct a SQL checkpoint or your application issues IO flushes to persist the data, there will be a sudden increase of writes against the attached disk. Disk bursting will give you the headroom to accommodate the expected and unexpected change in

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31

Mar

Microsoft partners with the industry to unlock new 5G scenarios with Azure Edge Zones

Cloud, edge computing, and IoT are making strides to transform whole industries and create opportunities that weren’t possible just a few years ago. With the rise of 5G mobile connectivity, there are even more possibilities to deliver immersive, real-time experiences that have demanding, ultra-low latency, and connectivity requirements. 5G opens new frontiers with enhanced mobile broadband up to 10x faster, reliable low-latency communication, and very high device density up to 1 million devices per square kilometer.

Today we’re announcing transformative advances to combine the power of Azure, 5G, carriers, and technology partners around the world to enable new scenarios for developers, customers, and partners, with the preview of Azure Edge Zones.

New 5G customer scenarios with Azure Edge Zones

Azure Edge Zones and Azure Private Edge Zones deliver consistent Azure services, app platform, and management to the edge with 5G unlocking new scenarios by enabling:

Development of distributed applications across cloud, on-premises, and edge using the same Azure Portal, APIs, development, and security tools. Local data processing for latency critical industrial IoT and media services workloads. Acceleration of IoT, artificial intelligence (AI), and real-time analytics by optimizing, building, and innovating for robotics, automation, and mixed reality. New frontiers for developers

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30

Mar

https://azure.microsoft.com/blog/extending-the-power-of-azure-ai-to-microsoft-365-users/Today, Yusuf Mehdi, Corporate Vice President of Modern Life and Devices, announced the availability of new Microsoft 365 Personal and Family subscriptions. In his blog, he shared a few examples of how Microsoft 365 is innovating to deliver experiences powered READ MORE

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28

Mar

Update #2 on Microsoft cloud services continuity
Update #2 on Microsoft cloud services continuity

Since last week’s update, the global health pandemic continues to impact every organization—large or small—their employees, and the customers they serve. Everyone is working tirelessly to support all our customers, especially critical health and safety organizations across the globe, with the cloud services needed to sustain their operations during this unprecedented time. Equally, we are hard at work providing services to support hundreds of millions of people who rely on Microsoft to stay connected and to work and play remotely.

As Satya Nadella shared, “It’s times like this that remind us that each of us has something to contribute and the importance of coming together as a community”. In these times of great societal disruption, we are steadfast in our commitment to help everyone get through this.

For this week’s update, we want to share common questions we’re hearing from customers and partners along with insights to address these important inquiries. If you have any immediate needs, please refer to the following resources.

Azure Service Health – for tracking any issues impacting customer workloads and understanding Azure Service Health
Microsoft 365 Service health and continuity – for tracking and understanding M365 Service health
Xbox Live – for tracking game and service status

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26

Mar

How Azure Machine Learning enables PowerPoint Designer

If you use Office 365, you have likely seen the Microsoft PowerPoint Designer appear to offer helpful ideas when you insert a picture into a PowerPoint slide. You may also have found it under the Home tab in the ribbon. In either case, Designer provides users with redesigned slides to maximize their engagement and visual appeal. These designs include different ways to represent your text as diagrams, layouts to make your images pop, and now it can even surface relevant icons and images to bring your slides to the next level. Ultimately, it saves users time while enhancing their slides to create stunning, memorable, and effective presentations.

Designer uses artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities in Office 365 to enable users to be more productive and unlock greater value from PowerPoint. It applies AI technologies and machine learning based techniques to suggest high-quality professional slide designs. Content on slides such as images, text, and tables are analyzed by Designer and formatted based on professionally designed templates for enhanced effectiveness and visual appeal.

The data science team, working to grow and improve Designer, is comprised of five data scientists with diverse backgrounds in applied machine learning and software engineering. They strive to continue

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26

Mar

Announcing general availability of incremental snapshots of Managed Disks

We’re announcing the general availability of incremental snapshots of Azure Managed Disks. Incremental snapshots are a cost-effective, point-in-time backup of managed disks. Unlike current snapshots, which are billed for the full size, incremental snapshots are billed for the delta changes to disks since the last snapshot and are always stored on the most cost-effective storage, Standard HDD storage irrespective of the storage type of the parent disks. For additional reliability, Managed Disks are also stored on Zone Redundant Storage (ZRS) by default in regions that support ZRS.

Incremental snapshots provide differential capability, enabling customers and independent solution vendors (ISVs) to build backup and disaster recovery solutions for Managed Disks. It allows you to get the changes between two snapshots of the same disk, thus copying only changed data between two snapshots across regions, reducing time and cost for backup and disaster recovery. Incremental snapshots are accessible instantaneously; you can read the underlying data of incremental snapshots or restore disks from them as soon as they are created. Azure Managed Disk inherit all the compelling capabilities of current snapshots and have a lifetime independent from their parent managed disks and independent of each other.

Examples of incremental snapshots

Let’s look at

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26

Mar

Azure Container Registry Private Link support preview for virtual networks

Azure Container Registry announces preview support for Azure Private Link, a means to limit network traffic of resources within the Azure network.

With Private Link, the registry endpoints are assigned private IP addresses, routing traffic within a customer-defined virtual network. Private network support has been one of the top customer asks, allowing customers to benefit from the Azure management of their registry while benefiting from tightly controlled network ingress and egress.
  

Private Links are available across a wide range of Azure resources with more coming soon, allowing a wide range of container workloads with the security of a private virtual network.

Private Endpoints and Public Endpoints

Private Link provides private endpoints to be available through private IPs. In the above case, the contoso.azurecr.io registry has a private IP of 10.0.0.6 which is only available to resources in contoso-aks-eastus-vnet. This allows the resources in this VNet to securely communicate. The other resources may be restricted to resources only within the VNet.

At the same time, the public endpoint for the contoso.azurecr.io registry may still be public for the development team. In a coming release, Azure Container Registry (ACR) Private Link will support disabling the public endpoint, limiting access to

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