07

Oct

Optimize your Azure workloads with Azure Advisor Score

Modern engineering practices, like Agile and DevOps, are redirecting the ownership of security, operations, and cost management from centralized teams to workload owners—catalyzing innovations at a higher velocity than in traditional data centers. In this new world, workload owners are expected to build, deploy, and manage cloud workloads that are secure, reliable, performant, and cost-effective. If you’re a workload owner, you want well-architected deployments, so you might be wondering, how well are you doing today? Of all the actions you can take, which ones will make the biggest difference for your Azure workloads? And how will you know if you’re making progress?

That’s why we created Azure Advisor Score—to help you understand how well your Azure workloads are following best practices, assess how much you stand to gain by remediating issues, and prioritize the most impactful recommendations you can take to optimize your deployments.

Introducing Advisor Score

Advisor Score enables you to get the most out of your Azure investment using a centralized dashboard to monitor and work towards optimizing the cost, security, reliability, operational excellence, and performance of your Azure resources.

Advisor Score will help you:

Assess how well you’re following the best practices defined by

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06

Oct

Lower prices and more flexible purchase options for Azure Red Hat OpenShift

For the past several years, Microsoft and Red Hat have worked together to co-develop hybrid cloud solutions intended to enable greater customer innovation. In 2019, we launched Azure Red Hat OpenShift as a fully managed, jointly engineered implementation of Red Hat OpenShift running on Red Hat OpenShift 3.11 that is deeply integrated into the Azure control plane. With the release of Red Hat OpenShift 4, we announced the general availability of Azure Red Hat OpenShift on OpenShift 4 in April 2020.

Today we’re sharing that in collaboration with Red Hat, we are dropping the price of Red Hat OpenShift licenses on Azure Red Hat OpenShift worker nodes by up to 77 percent. We’re also adding the choice of a three-year term for Reserved Instances (RIs) on top of the existing one year RI and pay as you go options, with a reduction in the minimum number of virtual machines required. The new pricing is effective immediately. Finally, as part of the ongoing improvements, we are increasing the Service Level Agreement (SLA) to be 99.95 percent.

With these new price reductions, Azure Red Hat OpenShift provides even more value with a fully managed, highly-available enterprise Kubernetes offering that manages the

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06

Oct

IoT Signals Research, edition 2: global insights for 2020 and beyond

If your business is already harnessing IoT, you likely believe IoT is critical to your long-term success. You are not alone. According to our latest annual report, IoT Signals edition 2 released today, 90 percent of decision makers now believe IoT is critical to their company’s success. The last six months have been tumultuous to say the least, however for many business decision makers it has actually accelerated their work towards a connected and secured future.

On our daily Microsoft Teams calls with customers and partners, we often say that it feels like a year’s worth of digital transformation is happening each and every month in 2020. For IoT, that transformation is providing near real-time visibility into physical assets and environments, enabling increased efficiency, reduced downtime, and keeping employees safe as they return to work during COVID-19.

Customers have shared that they are seeking guidance on what we see happening in IoT around the world in industries like Healthcare, Retail, Manufacturing, Oil and Gas, and Power and Utilities, and how other leaders are navigating rapid transformation.

We learned that looking ahead to the next two years, two out of three organizations are planning to use IoT even more than

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06

Oct

Microsoft partners expand the range of mission-critical applications you can run on Azure

How the depth and breadth of the Microsoft Azure partner ecosystem enables thousands of organizations to bring their mission-critical applications to Azure.

In the past few years, IT organizations have been realizing compelling benefits when they transitioned their business-critical applications to the cloud, enabling them to address the top challenges they face with running the same applications on-premises. As even more companies embark on their digital transformation journey, the range of mission and business-critical applications has continued to expand, even more so because technology drives innovation and growth. This has further accelerated in the past months, spurred in part by our rapidly changing global economy.

As a result, the definition of mission-critical applications is evolving and goes well beyond systems of record for many businesses. It’s part of why we never stopped investing across the platform to enable you to increase the availability, security, scalability, and performance of your core applications running on Azure. The expansion of mission-critical apps will only accelerate as AI, IoT, analytics, and new capabilities become more pervasive.

We’re seeing the broadening scope of mission-critical scenarios both within Microsoft and in many of our customers’ industry sectors. For example, Eric Boyd, in his blog, outlined

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05

Oct

Enabling resilient DevOps practices with code to cloud automation

This blog post was co-authored by Usha Narayanabhatta, Product Manager, GitHub.

As digital transformation has evolved, so have customer expectations. Enterprises are expected to deliver continuous value by releasing frequent bug-proof updates with little to no disruption to their userbase. This is no small feat, as nations and governments roll out stringent new data and security measures.

So how are enterprises able to ship faster while maintaining governance, security, and compliance standards amidst a pandemic that has forced work to be remote?

Based on the Enterprise DevOps 2020-2021 report, 80 percent of top-performing enterprises surveyed say they have begun “shifting-left,” or automating governance, security, and compliance into the early stages of their software development lifecycles (SDLC). These enterprises are not only automating their build and release workflows, but they’re also adopting an “everything-as-code” mindset. This shift means that not just infrastructure configurations and release pipelines, but also compliance and security policies, are written “as code,” enabling continuous improvement, while promoting better re-use, resilience, and driving greater transparency.

It’s with all this in mind that we continue to refine, update, and add to our GitHub Actions portfolio. At Microsoft Ignite we announced new GitHub Actions for Azure, which we added

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05

Oct

Deliver AI-powered application search with Azure Cognitive Search and BA Insight

Data is growing exponentially, and over 80 percent of data is unstructured1, creating a challenge for organizations to find and surface the right information to their customers. What organizations need is a solution that enables them to uncover latent insights from all their content by quickly identifying relevant information and meaningful patterns.

Knowledge mining is a category in AI that brings together multiple AI capabilities, making it easier for developers to get to insights faster. Azure Cognitive Search powers knowledge mining solutions to easily identify and explore relevant content at scale.

With Azure Cognitive Search, cloud search has evolved to include AI capabilities, across ingestion, enrichment, and exploration of structured and unstructured content. With APIs and tools, developers can build solutions that power rich search experiences over a variety of content in web, mobile, and enterprise applications.

Customers across multiple industries have leveraged Azure Cognitive Search to deliver enhanced app search experience. Amway has used Azure Cognitive Search to power applications and help sellers better explore and understand product information. As a result, search time for sellers reduced significantly, empowering them to help four times more customers every day. The Atlantic utilized Azure Cognitive Search to transition to

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05

Oct

Azure Machine Learning helps customers stay ahead of challenges

Organizations today are striving to build agility and resilience to the fast-changing environment we live in. AI and machine learning  innovation can help tackle these emerging challenges and enable cost efficiencies. However, organizations still encounter barriers to adopting and deploying machine learning at scale. Recently at Microsoft Ignite, Azure Machine Learning made a number of announcements that help organizations harness machine learning more easily, securely, and at scale. This includes capabilities like designer and automated machine learning UI, now generally available, that simplify machine learning for beginners and professionals alike. Advanced role-based access control (RBAC) and private IP link, in preview, make it possible to build machine learning solutions more securely. In addition, we are merging the Azure Machine Learning Enterprise and Basic Editions to deliver greater value at no extra cost.

“With Azure Machine Learning, we’re increasing speed-to-value while reducing cost-to-value.” – Sarah Dods, Head of Advanced Analytics, AGL. Read the story.

  Machine learning simplified

Azure Machine Learning designer provides a drag-and-drop canvas to build no-code models with ease. Built-in modules help preprocess data and build and train models using machine learning and deep learning algorithms, including computer vision, text analytics, recommendation, anomaly detection, and

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01

Oct

Azure introduces new capabilities for live video analytics

In June 2020, we announced the preview of the Live Video Analytics platform—a groundbreaking new set of capabilities in Azure Media Services that allows you to build workflows that capture and process video with real-time analytics from the intelligent edge to intelligent cloud. We continue to see customers across industries enthusiastically using Live Video Analytics on IoT Edge in preview, to drive positive outcomes for their organizations. Last week at Microsoft Ignite, we announced new features, partner integrations, and reference apps that unlock additional scenarios that include social distancing, factory floor safety, security perimeter monitoring, and more. The new product capabilities that enable these scenarios include:

Spatial Analysis in Azure Computer Vision for Cognitive Services: Enhanced video analytics that factor in the spatial relationships between people and movement in the physical domain. Intel OpenVINO Model Server integration: Build complex, highly performant live video analytics solutions powered by OpenVINO toolkit, with optimized pre-trained models running on Intel CPUs (Atom, Core, Xeon), FPGAs, and VPUs. NVIDIA DeepStream integration: Support for hardware accelerated hybrid video analytics apps that combine the power of NVIDIA GPUs with Azure services. Arm64 support: Develop and deploy live video analytics solutions on

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30

Sep

Azure Cost Management + Billing updates – September 2020

Whether you’re a new student, thriving startup, or the largest enterprise, you have financial constraints, and you need to know what you’re spending, where, and how to plan for the future. Nobody wants a surprise when it comes to the bill, and this is where Azure Cost Management + Billing comes in.

We’re always looking for ways to learn more about your challenges and how Azure Cost Management + Billing can help you better understand where you’re accruing costs in the cloud, identify and prevent bad spending patterns, and optimize costs to empower you to do more with less. Here are a few of the latest improvements and updates based on your feedback:

Simplify financial reporting with cost allocation, now in preview. Connector for AWS is now generally available. Get pay-as-you-go rates for all Azure products and services. What’s new in Cost Management Labs. Expanded availability of resource tags in cost reporting. 15 ways to optimize your Azure costs. New ways to save money with Azure. Upcoming changes to Azure usage data. Documentation updates.

Let’s dig into the details.

 

Simplify financial reporting with cost allocation, now in preview

Managing cloud

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30

Sep

Scaling Microsoft Kaizala on Azure
Scaling Microsoft Kaizala on Azure

This post was co-authored by Anubhav Mehendru, Group Engineering Manager, Kaizala.

Mobile-only workers depend on Microsoft Kaizala—a simple and secure work management and mobile messaging app—to get the work done. Since COVID-19 has forced many of us to work from home across the world, Kaizala usage has surged close to 3x from pre-COVID-19. While this is a good opportunity for the product to grow, it has increased pressure on the engineering team to ensure that the service scales along with the increased usage while maintaining the customer promised SLA of 99.99 percent.

Today, we’re sharing share some of the learnings about managing and scaling an enterprise grade secure productivity app and the backend service behind it.

Foundation of Kaizala

Kaizala is a productivity tool primarily targeted for mobile-only users and is based on Microservice architecture with Microsoft Azure as the core cloud platform. Our workload runs on Azure Cloud Services, with Azure SQL DB and Azure Blob Storage used for primary storage. We use Azure Cache for Redis to handle caching, and Azure Service Bus and Azure Notification Hub manages async processing of events. Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) is used for our user authentication. We use Azure Data

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