Microsoft announces new Azure capabilities around cloud-native apps, data analytics and hybrid cloud operations

Microsoft announces new Azure capabilities around cloud-native apps, data analytics and hybrid cloud operations

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Microsoft Corp. unveiled a slew of updates to the Azure cloud platform at its online Build 2022 developer conference today, with new capabilities for cloud-native applications, big data, hybrid cloud and Azure migration among the highlights.

Developers of cloud-native apps in particular have a lot to look forward to, with multiple updates to Azure aimed at making their lives much easier than before.

The launch of the Azure Communication Services Mobile UI Library in general availability means developers get access to a number of production-ready user interface components for the mobile apps they’re building on Azure. The release supports 13 languages, accessibility for UI components and the ability to view shared screen content, including pinch-to-zoom.

The company has come up with an easier way for developers to add email notifications to their apps too, with the preview of Azure Communication Services Email. According to Microsoft, this enables new scenarios such as account signups, password resets, service outage alerts, purchase confirmations and more.

Meanwhile, Azure Kubernetes Service is getting a number of new enhancements the company said are meant to aid the developer experience. AKS, as it’s called, is a service that simplifies the management of Kubernetes, which is open-source software that hosts the components of modern applications. The biggest update here is the availability of Draft 2, a reboot of the Draft open-source project that helps developers build Kubernetes apps. Draft 2 provides an easy way to create, containerize and deploy apps directly on Kubernetes, and can also generate GitHub Action workflow files, Microsoft said.

Other updates to AKS, available in preview, include extensions to the Draft Azure command line interface, the Azure portal and Visual Studio Code, plus a web application routing add-in that gives developers an immediate way for Kubernetes web apps to be exposed to the internet.

Elsewhere, the Azure API Management service for managing application programming interfaces gains Azure Private Link support, enabling traffic to be secured via a virtual network through Azure Private Link. Microsoft has also added managed certificate support in general availability, providing an easier way for users to secure custom domains quickly with a free certificate that’s provisioned, managed and automatically renewed. A final addition is support for GraphQL passthrough, meaning Azure API Management is now extended to GraphQL APIs.

As a final boon to cloud-native application developers, Microsoft announced a host of updates to the Azure App Service, a fully managed web hosting service for building web applications, services and RESTful APIs. Azure App Service gains support for Google Remote Procedure calls today and will soon be getting bulk migration capabilities in the coming weeks, making it easier to discover and assess ASP.NET web apps and categorize which ones are ready for migration.

Streamlined data analytics

On the big-data side, Microsoft is making life much easier for data analysts with the debut of the Microsoft Intelligent Data Platform. Now generally available, this is a new integrated service that looks to offer real value by unifying databases, analytics and governance into a single platform. The idea is to bring all data analytics and governance operations into one place, rather than waste time managing a fragmented data estate, the company explained.

Microsoft said Intelligent Data Platform will make it easier for companies to add layers of intelligence to their applications, unlock predictive insights and govern data wherever it resides. It will also help to address pain points around market fragmentation, while helping companies to capture and use data more effectively.

Customers will perhaps have greater reason to want to unify their data operations thanks to Microsoft’s efforts on the database front. Today it announced the launch of SQL Server 2022 in preview. It’s said to be the most “Azure-enabled” release of SQL Server ever, and adds some serious performance, security and availability improvements, the company claimed.

For instance, SQL Server now integrates with Azure Synapse Link and Microsoft Purview, enabling customers to derive deeper insights and governance from their data estates at scale. Meanwhile, cloud integration benefits from disaster recovery to Azure SQL Managed Instance and no-extract/transform/load connections to Azure’s cloud analytics services.

Another key database offering, Azure Cosmos DB, gains new burst capacity and elasticity features to enable higher performance for applications during peak times without cost overruns, plus increased serverless capacity and an improved 30-day trial experience. In addition, Azure SQL Database benefits from new features that the company said will streamline development and improve flexibility for application developers.

Hybrid cloud updates

On the hybrid cloud front, Microsoft announced some major updates to Azure Arc, which is a service that aims to simplify governance and management by delivering a consistent multicloud and on-premises management platform.

New features generally available starting today include a landing zone accelerator for Azure Arc-enabled Kubernetes. That provides best practices and automated reference implementations, enabling customers to get started with Azure Arc more easily and deploy cloud-native apps faster across different environments.

Azure Arc also gains a new Business Critical service tier for Azure Arc-enabled SQL Managed Instances, bringing stronger business continuity guarantees, increased performance and continuous security to user’s most database-intensive workloads.

With the Business Critical tier, Azure Arc users benefit from uptime and redundancy through passive disaster recovery and Always On availability groups, plus continuous security through automated, rolling updates that deliver patches and new features without application downtime. Other benefits include unlimited central processing unit and memory capacity, plus the ability to choose the best combination of the two.

Simplified cloud migration

Finally, Microsoft announced a number of new features that aim to streamline and simplify migration to Azure Cloud. They include general availability of agentless discovery and grouping of dependent Hyper-V virtual machines and physical servers, helping to ensure all of the required components are identified prior to migrating to Azure.

Other additions include assessment recommendations for SQL Server on Azure VMs and support for Hyper-V VMs and physical stacks, available in preview, and a new pause-and-resume migration function that provides more control over the actual migration operation. Using this, it’s easier to schedule migrations during off-peak periods, Microsoft explained.

Image: Microsoft

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