Azure Government New Compliance & Service, Cosmos DB and Blob Storage, More

Expanding Cognitive Services Pilot for Azure Government, Cosmos DB and Blob (Hot/Cool) Storage, Azure SQL now supports transparent geographic failover of database groups.

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Microsoft Azure Government announced it now support Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (DFARS) requirements, creating new options for U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) contractors.

With Thursday's announcement of support, DoD partners can now host Covered Defense Information (CDI) on Microsoft cloud platform, while maintaining compliance with DoD procurement requirements as well access to same set of Azure Government capabilities as the DoD itself.

Azure Government is also powering innovation at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Last month, the VA launched its Access to Care site on Azure Government. The site helps veterans and caregivers by providing data on patient satisfaction, appointment wait times and other quality measures.

In addition, Office 365 US Government Defense is also able to accept the flow down terms based on FedRamp+ requirements, writes Microsoft.

The initial preview of Cognitive Services announced in March this year in Azure Government, today expands to now include all Azure Government customers.

With Cognitive Services, a set of APIs allow quickly integrate Artificial Intelligence (AI) into your applications, which otherwise can be a daunting task. The capabilities that are currently included in the preview are: "Face, Emotion, Computer Vision, and Translator."

However, there are few key differences right now from the APIs in Azure Commercial that include:

  • No Azure Portal UI for Cognitive Services – Management is through the Cognitive Services PowerShell cmdlets (see below for steps)
  • Cognitive Services APIs in Azure Government have a different root URL – https://cognitivevirginiaprod.azure-api.us/
  • Translator in Azure Government does not support the Translator Hub, Web Widget or Collaborative Translation Framework (CTF).

If you are interested, check out the video below:

Evolving further the platform, Microsoft made two new services generally available for Azure Government: 'Azure Cosmos DB" and "Blob Storage (Hot/Cool)."

Following, yesterday //build announcement, this update will be rolled out to all Azure Government users in the coming days.

Azure Cosmos DB, which was started as "Project Florence" in the late 2010, is a next big leap in globally distributed, at scale, cloud databases. As a part of this release, "DocumentDB customers with their data are automatically Azure Cosmos DB customers," and now have access to the new breakthrough system and capabilities:

  • Turnkey global distribution – Easily build globally-distributed applications without the hassle of complex, multiple-datacenter configurations. Designed as a globally distributed database system, Azure Cosmos DB automatically replicates all of your data to any number of regions of your choice, for fast, responsive access. Azure Cosmos DB supports transparent multi-homing and guarantees 99.99% high availability.
  • Limitless elastic scale around the globe as you only pay for the throughput and storage you need. Azure Cosmos DB allows you to independently and elastically scale storage and throughput at anytime, anywhere across the globe.
  • Multiple, well-defined consistency choices such as well-defined, consistency levels-strong, bounded staleness, consistent-prefix, session, and eventual-for an intuitive programming model with low latency and high availability for your planet-scale app.
  • Guaranteed low latency at 99th percentile – Serve, read, and write requests from the nearest region while simultaneously distributing data across the globe. With its latch-free and write optimized database engine, Azure Cosmos DB guarantees less than 10-ms latencies on reads and less than 15-ms latencies on (indexed) writes at the 99th percentile.
  • Industry-leading, enterprise-grade SLAs – Rest assured your apps are running on a "battle-tested" database service, built on world-class infrastructure. Azure Cosmos DB gives you enterprise-grade security and compliance, and is the first and only service to offer industry-leading SLAs for 99.99% high availability, latency at the 99th percentile, guaranteed throughput, and consistency.

Blob Storage (Hot/Cool) accounts are specialized storage accounts for storing unstructured data as blobs (objects) in Azure Storage.

With Blob Storage accounts, customers can choose between hot and cool storage tiers to store less frequently accessed (cool) data at a lower storage cost, and store more frequently accessed (hot) data at a lower access cost.

Customers can also take advantage of the cost benefits of the cool storage tier for storing backup data, media content, scientific data, active archival data-and in general, any data that is less frequently accessed.

In addition, announcements were also made for Microsoft cloud platform outside Azure Government, like Azure SQL Database now supports transparent geographic failover of database groups.

The built-in geo-replication feature, which is generally available to SQL Database since 2014, starting today, a public preview of "auto-failover groups" that extends geo-replication with the following additional capabilities is available as well:

  • Geo-replication of a group of databases within a logical server
  • Ability to choose manual or automatic failover for a group of databases
  • The connection endpoint to the primary databases in the group that doesn't change after failover
  • The connection end-point to the secondary databases in the group that doesn't change after failover (for read-only workloads)

Azure Autoscale Service, which empowers customers to automatically scale their compute and App Service workloads based on user-defined rules regarding metric conditions, time/date schedules, or both.

Thursday, a host of improvements to Autoscale including "faster auto scaling, simplified configuration, the ability to scale by a custom metric using Application Insights, and more troubleshooting information available in the Activity Log" were made available.

  • Classic Cloud Services: The Classic Virtual Machine infrastructure that powers Classic Cloud Services now supports more reliable, host-level metrics via the Azure Monitor metric pipeline.
  • The Autoscale engine for VMSS and App Services can also now trigger scale actions faster.

Azure Autoscale is available for Classic Cloud Services, Virtual Machine Scale Sets (VMSS) and App Services.

Microsoft also announced many new capabilities for Azure App Service - Web App on Linux (Preview).

"Web App on Linux (Preview) enables developers to run cloud apps natively on Docker Containers for Linux." And, it also makes it easier to migrate existing apps hosted and optimized for the Linux platform into Azure App Service.

Today, many of differentiated PaaS capabilities are made available to developers whether they are building apps on Linux or just want to bring their apps already packaged as containers.

Developers can experience now improved productivity with capabilities such as "Continuous Integration (CI), testing and staging environments, testing-in-production, performance testing capabilities, SSH support," and much more.

Additionally, Web App on Linux is now in the Australia East region, in addition to West US, West Europe, and Southeast Asia.

Some of the key enhancements in App Service on Linux Preview: Site slots & swap, Auto scale, SSH anyone?, Setup Continuous Deliver using VSTS, Docker image CI/CD from Docker hub, Deploy WordPress on Linux, Try App Service for Linux."

Some other features announced today include:

  • Support for Wildcard Domain names: You can now assign wild card domain names to your web apps. For example, *.constoco.com.
  • Testing in Production (TiP): This feature allows you to direct x% of traffic to the slot or beta site of your application. To learn more follow the link.
  • Always ON: Using this feature, you can keep your web app always running and avoid a cold start due to idle timeouts. To learn more follow the link.
  • Site Restart from Azure Portal and API: You can restart your container and web app using this option. This option will force reload of the container from the cached image.
  • Automatic PORT detection for custom images: There is no need to set PORT AppSetting for your web app anymore. We will try to read your Docker file and automatically configure the internal PORT. The application is listening on. If you already have the PORT application setting configured, then it is honored and preferred .

Application Insights now has new tools empowering development team to better understand how customers use their web apps. In addition to monitoring the performance, availability, and reliability of your apps, Application Insights can now help your team:

  • Track business metrics related to your application, like retention and your number of active users.
  • Investigate increases or decreases in usage from new versions of your app, certain browsers, or certain countries.
  • Better design new pages and features with insights into current user behavior.
  • Identify pages and features in legacy systems that are rarely used, which might be safely removed.
  • Demonstrate the business value of your app within your organization by showing its impact on customers or other users.

These tools are available as a preview today in Application Insights in the Azure Portal.

Azure DevTest Labsb

Azure DevTest Labsb service that enables IT admins to create cost-controlled, self-service labs for developers and testers to quickly create environments in Azure, while minimizing waste and optimizing cost—today offer the following key functionalities shipped since the Connect() conference last November: "Managed disks support, Claimable VMs, Batch creation of identical VMs, VM auto-expiration, Shared public IP address."

The service is in general availability since last May.

Application Insights Profiler for Azure App Service generally available along with the Public Preview version of Profiler for compute resources, e.g. Virtual Machines, scale sets, Cloud Services, and Service Fabric.

The Profiler allows you to automatically collect and view code level traces for slow requests in your production application.