25

Apr

The April release of SQL Operations Studio is now available
The April release of SQL Operations Studio is now available

This post is authored by Alan Yu, Program Manager, SQL Server.

We are excited to announce the April release of SQL Operations Studio is now available.

Download SQL Operations Studio and review the Release Notes to get started.

SQL Operations Studio is a data management tool that enables you to work with SQL Server, Azure SQL DB and SQL DW from Windows, macOS and Linux. To learn more, visit our GitHub.

SQL Operations Studio was announced for Public Preview on November 15th at Connect(), and this April release is the fifth major update since the announcement. If you missed the March release announcement can be viewed here.

The April Public Preview release is focused on improving our Extensibility experience with the release of new extensions as well as addressing top Github issues.

Highlights for this build include the following.

Public preview release of SQL Agent extension Added new extensions and improved existing extensions Improvements to Server Reports Extension Release of SSMS Keymap extension Release of AlwaysOn Insights extension Release of MSSQL Instance Insights Release of MSSQL Db Insights Added Visual Studio Code 1.21 platform source code refresh Improved large and protected file support for

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25

Apr

Transfer Learning for Text using Deep Learning Virtual Machine (DLVM)

This post is by Anusua Trivedi, Data Scientist, and Wee Hyong Tok, Data Scientist Manager, at Microsoft.

Motivation

Modern machine learning models, especially deep neural networks, can often benefit quite significantly from transfer learning. In computer vision, deep convolutional neural networks trained on a large image classification datasets such as ImageNet have proved to be useful for initializing models on other vision tasks, such as object detection (Zeiler and Fergus, 2014).

But how can we leverage the transfer leaning technique for text? In this blog post, we attempt to capture a comprehensive study of existing text transfer learning literature in the research community. We explore eight popular machine reading comprehension (MRC) algorithms (Figure 1). We evaluate and compare six of these papers – BIDAF, DOCQA, ReasoNet, R-NET, SynNet and OpenNMT. We initialize our models, pre-trained on different source question answering (QA) datasets, and show how standard transfer learning can achieve results on a large target corpus. For creating a test corpus, we chose the book Future Computed by Harry Shum and Brad Smith.

We compared the performance of the transfer learning approach for creating a QA system for this book using these pretrained MRC models. For our evaluation scenario, the

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25

Apr

Modernize to cloud with Azure SQL Database
Modernize to cloud with Azure SQL Database

Companies are embracing digital transformation by migrating to the cloud. IT organizations are continuously looking for new ways of optimizing how they use the data that fuels their operations. Modernizing to the cloud offers the right mix of operational efficiencies and business enablement to drive continued growth. IT optimization now requires new perspectives to consider:

eliminate time spent managing “long tail” of applications – lift and shift to managed cloud, free up limited IT resources to drive transformation, and migrate business critical apps to the cloud – extend and innovate

One way IT organizations can confront challenges on their transformation journey is by adopting a PaaS (Platform as a Service) solution like Azure SQL Database. Azure SQL Database is a fully-managed relational database-as-a-service that provides the best and most economical cloud destination for your SQL data. You can build data-driven applications and websites in the programming language of your choice, without needing to manage infrastructure.

Within SQL Database, there is a new deployment option called Managed Instance that enables you to quickly and confidently move your SQL Server data (2005 and newer) at scale to the cloud. SQL Database shares a common code base with SQL Server and supports most

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25

Apr

Modernize to cloud with Azure SQL Database
Modernize to cloud with Azure SQL Database

Companies are embracing digital transformation by migrating to the cloud. IT organizations are continuously looking for new ways of optimizing how they use the data that fuels their operations. Modernizing to the cloud offers the right mix of operational efficiencies and business enablement to drive continued growth. IT optimization now requires new perspectives to consider:

eliminate time spent managing long tail of applications lift and shift to managed cloud, free up limited IT resources to drive transformation, and migrate business critical apps to the cloud extend and innovate

One way IT organizations can confront challenges on their transformation journey is by adopting a PaaS (Platform as a Service) solution like Azure SQL Database. Azure SQL Database is a fully-managed relational database-as-a-service that provides the best and most economical cloud destination for your SQL data. You can build data-driven applications and websites in the programming language of your choice, without needing to manage infrastructure.

Within SQL Database, there is a new deployment option called Managed Instance that enables you to quickly and confidently move your SQL Server data (2005 and newer) at scale to the cloud. SQL Database shares a common code base with SQL Server and supports

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25

Apr

Azure #CosmosDB: Secure, private, compliant
Azure #CosmosDB: Secure, private, compliant

Azure Cosmos DB is Microsoft’s globally distributed, multi-model database. Azure Cosmos DB enables you to elastically and independently scale throughput and storage across any number of Azure’s geographic regions with a single click. It offers throughput, latency, availability, and consistency guarantees with comprehensive service level agreements (SLAs), a feature that no other database service can offer.

A database that holds sensitive data across international borders must meet high standards for security, privacy, and compliance. Additionally, the cloud service provider must anticipate and be ready for new standards, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which will soon govern the collection and use of EU resident’s data. Microsoft has pledged that Azure services will be GDPR compliant by the May 25 implementation date.

Privacy

Microsoft’s cloud privacy policies state that we will use your customer data only to provide the services we have agreed upon, and for purposes that are compatible with providing those services. We do not share your data with our advertiser-supported services, nor do we mine it for marketing or advertising. 

Encryption

Azure Cosmos DB also implements stringent security practices. All the documents, attachments and backups stored in Azure Cosmos DB are encrypted at rest and

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25

Apr

Accelerate real-time big data analytics with Spark connector for Microsoft SQL Databases

Apache Spark is a unified analytics engine for large-scale data processing. Today, you can use the built-in JDBC connector to connect to Azure SQL Database or SQL Server to read or write data from Spark jobs.

The Spark connector for Azure SQL Database and SQL Server enables SQL databases, including Azure SQL Database and SQL Server, to act as input data source or output data sink for Spark jobs. It allows you to utilize real-time transactional data in big data analytics and persist results for adhoc queries or reporting.

Compared to the built-in Spark connector, this connector provides the ability to bulk insert data into SQL databases. It can outperform row-by-row insertion with 10x to 20x faster performance. The Spark connector for Azure SQL Databases and SQL Server also supports Azure Active Directory authentication. It allows you to securely connect to your Azure SQL database from Azure Databricks using your AAD account. The Spark connector also provides similar interfaces with the built-in JDBC connector and is easy to migrate your existing Spark jobs to use this new connector.

The Spark connector for Azure SQL Database and SQL Server utilizes the Microsoft JDBC Driver for SQL Server to move data between

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25

Apr

Bing Custom Search: Build a customized search experience in minutes

It’s a little over five months since we launched the Bing Custom Search for general availability, and we’re happy to see a considerable number of websites around the world that are now powered by Bing Custom Search. You can use the Bing Custom Search offering for either powering your site search or building the vertical search experience through multiple relevant domains.

Bing Custom Search is an easy-to-use, ad-free search solution that enables users to build a search experience and query content on their specific site, or across a hand-picked set of websites or domains. To help users surface the results they want, Bing Custom Search provides a simple web interface where users can control ranking specifics and pin or block responses to suit their needs.

The Bing API Team’s goal is to empower both developers and non-developers to harness the power of the web by allowing them to build a customized search engine experience. Setting up a custom search instance is easy and quick. For customers who don’t have resources to invest in development efforts, we offer an easy to use Hosted UI solution at no additional cost.

If you believe in delighting your users and want to integrate customized

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25

Apr

Replicated Tables now generally available in Azure SQL Data Warehouse

We are excited to announce that Replicated Tables, a new type of table distribution, are now generally available in Azure SQL Data Warehouse (SQL DW). SQL DW is a fully managed, flexible, and secure cloud data warehouse tuned for running complex queries fast and across petabytes of data.

The key to performance for large-scale data warehouses is how data is distributed across the system. When queries join across tables and data is distributed differently, data movement is required to complete the query. The same can be said when transforming data to load, enrich, and apply business rules. With Replicated Tables, the data is available on all compute nodes, hence data movement is eliminated, and queries run faster. In some cases, such as small dimension tables, choosing a Replicated Table versus a Round Robin table, can increase performance because data movement is reduced. As with all optimization techniques, performance gains may vary and should be tested.

Reducing data movement to boost performance

During the public preview of Replicated Tables, SQL Data Warehouse customers are seeing up to 5x performance gains while transforming data with Replicated Tables when compared to using Round Robin distribution.

Taking a look at an example of

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25

Apr

Join Microsoft Build Live for the ultimate digital experience
Join Microsoft Build Live for the ultimate digital experience

Registration is now open for the Microsoft Build Live digital experience, May 7–9!

Microsoft Build Live brings you live as well as on-demand access to three days of inspiring speakers, spirited discussions, and virtual networking. Whether you can’t make it to Seattle or just want to enhance your on-the-ground experience at Microsoft Build, the livestream gives you another way to connect, spark ideas, and deepen your engagement with the latest ideas in the cloud, AI, mixed reality, and more.

Register for free and start designing your own personalized digital experience:

Learn: There’s a lot going on at Microsoft Build! Select your favorite, must-know topics and receive content recommendations. Then tailor your own feed for the speakers and sessions you most want to see. Curate: Prioritize what to watch live, and save concurrent sessions for on-demand viewing. Create and share your playlists and favorites with your dev peers. Participate: Engage in conversations with the most innovative minds in dev through live Q&As, chats, and session comments. And don’t miss the Drone Skills Search and Rescue Challenge – even if you can’t be there to build your own drone, you can watch and cheer on your favorites virtually. Sustain: Keep the

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25

Apr

Azure Container Instances now generally available

I am proud to announce the general availability of Azure Container Instances (ACI) – a serverless way to run both Linux and Windows containers. ACI offers you an on-demand compute service delivering rapid deployment of containers with no VM management and automatic, elastic scale. When we released the preview last summer of ACI, it was the first-of-its-kind and fundamentally changed the landscape of container technology. It was the first service to deliver innovative serverless containers in the public cloud. As part of today’s announcement, I am also excited to announce new lower pricing, making it even less expensive to deploy a single container in the cloud. ACI also continues to be the fastest cloud-native option for customers in the cloud, getting you compute in mere seconds that also provide rich features like interactive terminals within running containers and an integrated Azure portal experience.

In addition to the ease-of-use and granular billing available with ACI, customers are choosing ACI as their serverless container solution because of its deep security model, protecting each individual container at a hyper-visor level which provides a strong security boundary for multi-tenant scenarios. It can sometimes be a challenge to secure multi-tenant workloads running

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