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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25

Apr

What’s brewing in Visual Studio Team Services: April 2018 Digest

This post series provides the latest updates and news for Visual Studio Team Services and is a great way for Azure users to keep up-to-date with new features being released every three weeks. Visual Studio Team Services offers the best DevOps tooling to create an efficient continuous integration and release pipeline to Azure. With the rapidly expanding list of features in Team Services, teams can start to leverage it more efficiently for all areas of their Azure workflow, for apps written in any language and deployed to any OS.

Chain related builds together using build completion triggers

Large products have several components that are dependent on each other. These components are often independently built. When an upstream component (a library, for example) changes, the downstream dependencies have to be rebuilt and revalidated. Teams typically manage these dependencies manually.

Now you can trigger a build upon the successful completion of another build. Artifacts produced by an upstream build can be downloaded and used in the later build, and you can also get data from these variables: Build.TriggeredBy.BuildId, Build.TriggeredBy.BuildDefinitionId, Build.TriggeredBy.BuildDefinitionName. See the build triggers documentation for more information.

This feature was prioritized based on what is currently the second-highest voted suggestion with

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24

Apr

SQL Server 2016 Service Pack 2 is now available
SQL Server 2016 Service Pack 2 is now available

The SQL Server team is excited to bring you the second service pack release for SQL Server 2016. The service pack is now available for download on the Microsoft Download Center and will be coming soon to Visual Studio Subscriptions, MBS/Partner Source, and VLSC. As part of our commitment to software excellence for our customers, this upgrade is available to all customers with existing SQL Server 2016 deployments.

SQL Server 2016 Service Pack 2 (“SP2”) contains a roll-up of released hotfixes as well as multiple improvements centered around performance, scalability, and supportability based on feedback from customers and the SQL community. These improvements enable SQL Server 2016 to perform faster and with expanded supportability and diagnostics. It also showcases the SQL Server product team’s commitment to providing continued value into in-market releases.

SQL Server 2016 Service Pack 2 includes:

Performance and scale improvements for SQL Server, such as improved database backup performance on large memory machines and added backup compression support, which helps performance of almost all databases. Supportability and diagnostics enhancements, such as improved troubleshooting and additional information about statistics used during query plan optimization. New improvements based on Connect feedback items filed by the SQL Server Community. Some

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24

Apr

SQL Server 2016 Service Pack 2 is now available
SQL Server 2016 Service Pack 2 is now available

The SQL Server team is excited to bring you the second service pack release for SQL Server 2016. The service pack is now available for download on the Microsoft Download Center and will be coming soon to Visual Studio Subscriptions, MBS/Partner Source, and VLSC. As part of our commitment to software excellence for our customers, this upgrade is available to all customers with existing SQL Server 2016 deployments.

SQL Server 2016 Service Pack 2 (SP2) contains a roll-up of released hotfixes as well as multiple improvements centered around performance, scalability, and supportability based on feedback from customers and the SQL community. These improvements enable SQL Server 2016 to perform faster and with expanded supportability and diagnostics. It also showcases the SQL Server product teams commitment to providing continued value into in-market releases.

SQL Server 2016 Service Pack 2 includes:

Performance and scale improvements for SQL Server, such as improved database backup performance on large memory machines and added backup compression support, which helps performance of almost all databases. Supportability and diagnostics enhancements, such as improved troubleshooting and additional information about statistics used during query plan optimization. New improvements based on Connect feedback items filed by the SQL Server

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24

Apr

Deep Learning for Emojis with VS Code Tools for AI
Deep Learning for Emojis with VS Code Tools for AI

This post is the first in a two-part series, and is authored by Erika Menezes, Software Engineer at Microsoft.

Visual content has always been a critical part of communication. Emojis are increasingly playing a crucial role in human dialogue conducted on leading social media and messaging platforms. Concise and fun to use, emojis can help improve communication between users and make dialogue systems more anthropomorphic and vivid.

We also see an increasing investment in chatbots that allow users to complete task-oriented services such as purchasing auto insurance or movie tickets, or checking in for flights, etc., in a frictionless and personalized way from right within messaging apps. Most such chatbot conversations, however, can seem rather different from typical conversational chats between humans. By using allowing the use of emojis in a task completion context, we may be able to improve the conversational user experience (UX) and enable users to get their tasks accomplished in a faster and more intuitive way.

We present a deep learning approach that uses semantic representation of words (word2vec) and emojis (emoji2vec) to understand conversational human input in a task-oriented context.

In this blog post, we show how to use embeddings created via deep learning techniques

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24

Apr

Azure Analysis Services integration with VNets via On-Premises Data Gateway

We are pleased to announce Azure Analysis Services now provides integration with cloud data sources residing on Azure Virtual Networks (VNets). Organizations use VNets for enhanced security and isolation. Cloud data sources such as Azure SQL DW and Azure Database can be secured with VNet endpoints.

Azure Analysis Services inbound traffic can be controlled using firewall rules. However, Azure Analysis Services requires access to data sources in-order to perform data refresh operations. If the data sources are cloud-based and secured with a VNet, it is necessary to provide access to Analysis Services. This can be done using the AlwaysUseGateway server property.

Setting this property to true specifies Azure Analysis Services always use an On-premises data gateway for access to data sources – whether or not the data source happens to be cloud-based. It therefore requires the On-premises data gateway is set up as described in this article, and the gateway computer resides on the VNet. Data refresh operations are directed to the gateway machine, which in-turn can successfully access the data source(s).

The AlwaysUseGateway server property can be set by using SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS). Connect to the Azure Analysis Services server, right-click on the server, select Properties, General,

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