Microsoft Cloud Services Expands to Switzerland, UAE and Germany

Microsoft Azure datacenter adds more regions to total 50, Jenkins Solution Template for Azure Government Cloud.

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Microsoft Azure World Map

Microsoft expands its cloud services in Europe and into the Middle East to meet growing customer demand. That said, Microsoft Cloud from first ever datacenter in locations in Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates, will now expand cloud options for customers in Germany.

In addition, Microsoft Cloud is now officially open with general availability in France, of Microsoft Azure and Microsoft Office 365 today, and Dynamics 365 will follow in early 2019.

"By delivering the comprehensive, intelligent Microsoft Cloud – comprising Azure, Office 365 and Dynamics 365 – from datacenters in a given geography, we offer scalable, available and resilient cloud services for companies and organizations while meeting data residency, security and compliance needs," Microsoft wrote.

Also, Jenkins Solution Template for Mirosoft Azure Government Cloud is pushed today, so, you can stand a Jenkins master running on a Linux (Ubuntu 16.05 LTS) VM up on Azure in as fast as 20 minutes.

Jenkins is a popular open source CI/CD server. Below are some quick facts of the solution template:

  • Cost: Jenkins is free. You pay for the cost of running the software components and the Azure infrastructure. Our default for disk type and size is a SSD Standard DS2 v2. Depending on your need, you can update the configuration during set up.
  • Jenkins release type:
    • LTS
    • Weekly Build or
    • Azure verified. Usually the same as LTS. We increase to LTS once we complete running tests on our plugins against the LTS release, writes Microsoft.

Jenkins Solution Template for Azure Government Cloud

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central that provide full power of Dynamics NAV to the cloud. As a single, end-to-end application, Business Central offers:

  • Business without silos. Unify your business, and boost efficiency with automated tasks and workflows—all integrated within familiar Office tools like Outlook, Word, and Excel.
  • Actionable insights. Achieve greater outcomes and gain a complete view of your business with connected data, business analytics, and guidance delivered by Microsoft's leading intelligent technologies.
  • Solutions built to evolve. Start quickly, grow at your own pace and adapt in real time with a flexible platform that makes it easy to extend Business Central based on your changing business needs.

The general availability of Dynamics 365 Business Central is scheduled on April 2, 2018 in 14 countries.

Update 03/15: Azure AD Expiration Policy for Office 365 Groups generally available now allows setting an expiration timeframe for any Office 365 group. After setting up the timeframe group owners get notification emails reminding them to renew the group if they still need them. Groups not renewed are automatically deleted.

The newly redesigned notification emails now provide one-click access to the group content, and also allow the group to be deleted if it's no longer needed.

Get started configuring Office 365 groups expiration from the Azure Active Directory portal, as well as programmatically via Azure Active Directory PowerShell.

To create a policy for your tenant, simply select Groups from the Azure Active Directory portal, and choose Expiration under 'Settings', and configure the policy.

Here is the UI of this feature:

Azure AD Expiration Policy for Office 365 Groups

Update 03/16: The Intune Managed Browser now supports Azure AD SSO and Azure AD Conditional Access (CA), that lets you easily secure access to Office 365 and all the other apps you use with Azure AD.

A fastest growing feature Azure AD CA today has more than 23M users now protected.

Intune Managed Browser SSO: Your employees can enjoy Single Sign-on across native clients (like Microsoft Outlook) and the Intune Managed Browser for all Azure AD-connected apps.

Intune Managed Browser Conditional Access Support: You can now require employees to use the Intune Managed browser using application-based Conditional Access policies.

Accelerated Networking (AN) for both Windows and Linux is now generally available to all Azure Government customers, and provides consistent ultra-low network latency via Azure's in-house programmable hardware and technologies such as SR-IOV.

By moving much of Azure's software-defined networking stack off the CPUs and into FPGA-based SmartNICs, compute cycles are reclaimed by end user applications, putting less load on the virtual machine (VM), decreasing jitter and inconsistency in latency.

Microsoft also published a guide Windows AN VM or Linux AN VM to know more about to deploy a VM with accelerated networking. See over here.

New and improved Azure Log Analytics is now available in Azure Government and includes new features for powerful search, smart analytics, and even deeper insights.

This upgrade provides an interactive query language and an advanced analytics portal, powered by a highly scalable data store for consistent monitoring experience.

Key features, include:

  • Powerful query language with built in Smart Analytics
  • Advanced Analytics Portal
  • Improved integration with Azure Government Portal

Azure Log Analytics is now available in Azure Government

Additionally, Micosoft also recently announced several cloud platform updates, including:

Azure Database for MySQL and PostgreSQL | Pricing Model Update – Public Preview

New pricing model update for Azure Database for MySQL and PostgreSQL

Effective February 20, 2018, compute charges will be changed from Compute unit to vCore, providing more transparency about the hardware configuration for MySQL or PostgreSQL server. For more flexibility, storage will no longer be included with compute. Now you can provision the storage you need, and scale compute and storage independently. As part of the new pricing model, you’ll see your storage already provisioned at the level you had before. Preview pricing will remain in effect under the new pricing model. Learn more at the Azure support website.

Cognitive Services | Cognitive Services updates

We’re announcing new milestones for Cognitive Services vision and search services in Azure.

  • Today, Custom Vision service is now in public preview on the Azure Portal. Microsoft Custom Vision service makes it possible for developers to easily train a classifier with their own data, export the models and embed these custom classifiers directly in their applications, and run it offline in real time on iOS, Android and many other edge devices. We built Custom Vision with state-of-the-art machine learning that offers developers the ability to train their own classifier to recognize what matters in their scenarios. With a couple of clicks, Custom Vision service can be used for a multiplicity of scenarios: retailers can easily create models that can auto-classify images from their catalogs (dresses vs shoes, etc.), social sites can more effectively filter and classify images of specific products, or national parks can detect whether images from cameras include wild animals or not. Last month, we also announced Custom Vision Service is able to export models to the CoreML format for iOS 11 and to the TensorFlow format for Android. The exported models are optimized for the constraints of a mobile device, so classification on device happens in real time.
  • The Face API is a generally available cloud-based service that provides face and emotion recognition. It detects the location and attributes of human faces and emotions in an image, which can be used to personalize user experiences. With the Face API, developers can help determine if two faces belong to the same person, identify previously tagged people, find similar-looking faces in a collection, and find or group photos of the same person from a collection.
  • Starting today, the Face API now integrates several improvements, including million-scale recognition to better help customers for their vision scenarios. The million-scale recognition capabilities represent a new type of person group now with up to a million people, and a new type of face list with up to a million faces. With this update, developers can now teach the Face API to recognize up to 1 million people and still get lightning-fast responses.
  • Part of the search capabilities of Cognitive services, Bing Entity Search brings rich context about people, places, things and local businesses to any app, blog or website for a more engaging user experience. We’re announcing that Bing Entity Search is now generally available today on the Azure Portal.

With Bing Entity Search, developers can now identify the most relevant entity based on searched terms and provide primary details about those entities. Entities spans across multiple international markets and market types including information about famous people, places, movies, TV shows, video games and books.

Many scenarios can be covered with Bing Entity Search: for instance, a messaging app could provide an entity snapshot of a restaurant, making it easier for a group to plan an evening. A social media app could augment users’ photos with information about the locations of each photo. A news app could provide entity snapshots for entities in the article.

Today’s milestones illustrate our commitment to make our AI Platform suitable for every business scenario, with enterprise-grade tools to make application development easier and respecting customers’ data.

To learn more and start building vision and search intelligent apps, please visit the Cognitive Services site in Azure and our documentation pages.

Azure Migrate | General availability (GA)

Azure Migrate, a discovery and assessment tool that helps you confidently plan your migration, is now generally available.

Azure Migrate enables you to easily discover, assess, right-size, and migrate your on-premises virtual machines (VMs) to Azure. Below are some of the key capabilities:

  • Easily discover on-premises VMs and app dependencies.
  • Mitigate VM migration issues with built-in guidance.
  • Adjust and optimize cloud resources based on utilization.
  • Get tool recommendations to use for migration.
  • View rich service dependency maps to group VMs effectively for migration.

We’re making these capabilities available to you at no additional charge. Go to to learn more and get started with your Azure migration project today.

Azure Batch | Batch Rendering – V-Ray GA

The V-Ray rendering software from the Chaos Group recently entered general availability in Azure Batch Rendering. Batch Rendering uses the functionality of Azure Batch specifically for rendering workloads. It offers pay-per-use software licensing, automatic infrastructure configuration, and the ability to use low-priority VMs. Customers can focus on their workloads instead of managing their infrastructure.

For more information, see the Batch Rendering page.

Azure Virtual Machines | NCv3 – GA

NCv3-Series VMs now generally available

The NCv3-series virtual machines are the latest addition to Azure’s GPU-based offerings. Featuring the industry-leading NVIDIA V100 GPUs, NCv3 provides excellent performance for both HPC and AI workloads. NCv3, like preceding NC-series, offers a configuration with InfiniBand networking for workloads that require fast interconnectivity, like oil and gas, automotive, and genomics, to accelerate scale-out capability and improved single-instance performance.

NCv3-Series virtual machines entered general availability on March 1, 2018.

App usage capabilities in Application Insights

Our goal with Azure Monitoring tools is to provide full-stack monitoring for your applications. The top of this stack isn’t the client side of your app; it’s the users themselves. Understanding user behavior is critical for making the right changes to your apps to drive the metrics your business cares about. Recent improvements to the usage analytics tools in Application Insights can help your team better understand overall usage, dive deep into the impact of performance on customer experience, and give more visibility into user flows.

Learn more in this blog post.

Quantum Development Kit | Preview

We recently announced updates to our Quantum Development Kit, including support for macOS and Linux, additional open source libraries, and interoperability with Python. These updates will bring the power of quantum computing to even more developers on more platforms. At Microsoft, we believe quantum computing holds the promise of solving many of today’s unsolvable problems, and we want to make it possible for the broadest set of developers to code new quantum applications.

When we released the Quantum Development Kit in December 2017, we were excited about the possibilities that might result from opening the world of quantum programming to more people. We delivered a new quantum programming language—Q#, rich integration with Visual Studio, and extensive libraries and samples. Since then, thousands of developers have explored the Quantum Development Kit and experienced the world of quantum computing. This includes students, professors, researchers, algorithm designers, and people new to quantum development who are using these tools to gain knowledge.

To learn more, read the full blog post, and visit to download the latest Quantum Development Kit to experience the world of quantum computing.

Azure Storage Service Encryption with customer managed keys | GA

Azure Storage Service Encryption with customer managed keys provides at rest encryption for data stored in Azure Blobs, Azure Files, and Azure Premium Storage. Existing at-rest encryption uses Microsoft generated and managed encryption keys. Storage Service Encryption with customer managed keys uses Azure Key Vault to provide highly available and scalable secure storage for RSA cryptographic keys backed by FIPS 140-2 Level 2 validated hardware security modules. Key Vault streamlines the key management process and enables customers to fully maintain control of, manage, and audit key usage for keys they generate to encrypt data.

Azure security and operations management | Security Center’s just-in-time VM access – GA

Azure Security Center’s just-in-time VM access is now generally available. This reduces your exposure to brute force or port scanning attacks by enabling you to deny persistent access or provide controlled access to VMs.

Learn more about this new feature.

Power BI Embedded | Generally available for German Cloud

Power BI Embedded lets developers embed stunning, interactive reports and dashboards into apps—without the time and expense of building and maintaining their own visual analytics features. Power BI Embedded is a platform as a service (PaaS) offering that includes extensive APIs to customize analytics to your app and your customer needs.

With Power BI Embedded, you can:

  • Get your app to market faster by investing in a robust data visualization platform.
  • Expose valuable insights to customers by connecting to countless data sources.
  • Choose a visual from our library or dream up your own custom visual.
  • Easily manage the needs of your app based on the requirements of your business and customers.

The cost of Power BI Embedded depends on the node type chosen and the number of nodes deployed. Customers can feel confident in their decision making by exploring data and gaining insights through visuals rendered in high definition across all devices.

Learn more about Power BI Embedded.

Azure SQL Database | Higher database eDTU limits for standard elastic pools—GA

We’re pleased to announce that an increase in the maximum eDTU limit per database in standard elastic pools is now generally available. This limit has increased to as much as 3,000 eDTUs with new click-stop choices starting at 200 eDTUs. These higher limits are especially well suited for databases with activity bursts that demand more CPU than previously provided by standard pools. For IO intensive workloads, premium pools continue to provide the best performance experience with lower latency per IO and more IOPS per eDTU.

Learn more about SQL Database elastic pools.

Azure SQL Database | Information protection in preview

Azure SQL Database information protection

Now available in preview, SQL Database information protection introduces advanced capabilities built into Azure SQL Database for discovering, classifying, labeling, and protecting your sensitive data. SQL Database information protection is also available for all versions of SQL Server 2008 through SQL Server 2017 via the latest SQL Server Management Studio. Data classification plays a pivotal role in your organizational information protection stature, serving as infrastructure for meeting data privacy standards and regulatory compliance requirements (like General Data Protection Regulation [GDPR]), as well as controlling and monitoring access to highly sensitive data.

Learn more at the Azure Blog.

Azure SQL Database | Managed Instance in preview

Azure SQL Database Managed Instance in preview

Managed Instance is a new deployment option in Azure SQL Database that provides SQL Server compatibility and native virtual network support. Move your SQL Server workloads to an intelligent, fully managed service without rearchitecting your apps, and use the new vCore-based performance tiers for easy translation of on-premises requirements to the cloud.

Move your SQL Server databases to Managed Instance today and save up to 30 percent with Azure Hybrid Benefit for SQL Server.

Learn more about SQL Database Managed Instance and the Azure Hybrid Benefit for SQL Server.

Azure SQL Database | Zone redundant premium databases and elastic pools in preview

Azure SQL Database has added more fault resilience to premium databases by taking advantage of availability zones in select regions. Provision your premium databases or premium elastic pools with multiple replicas deployed to different availability zones at no extra cost. Zone redundant premium databases and elastic pools expands upon the automatic data and compute redundancy SQL Database currently provides for databases in the same region. The service is currently available in Central US, West Europe, and France Central, with additional regions to be added over time.

Visual Studio 2017 | Update

A new update to Visual Studio 2017 is now available for download and installation. As with every release of Visual Studio 2017, we listened to your feedback and added new features, productivity updates, and other improvements that you asked for.

This release is packed with enhancements from the Installer onwards, with bigger changes for the CPU usage tool, the test explorer, team explorer, build tools, continuous delivery tools, and our unit testing features. This version loads C# and Visual Basic projects twice as fast as before, and we’ve added lots of new productivity updates for iOS and Android developers in the Visual Studio Tools for Xamarin. We’ve also added substantial updates to several language features including for C++ (CMake and C++ linker improvements), F# (compiler, core library, and tooling), C# (compiler) and Python (faster IntelliSense and Anaconda integration). Azure development now supports configuring continuous delivery to Azure for Team Foundation Version Control, Git SSH remotes, and Web Apps for containers.

But there’s so much more, so we encourage you to read the release notes and install the update today.

Visual Studio for Mac | Update

A new update to Visual Studio for Mac is now available. This release includes fixes for the top reported issues, improving performance and stability. It also brings official support for macOS High Sierra and C# 7.1, as well as core architectural changes for C# editing, powered by Roslyn, including IntelliSense performance and typing responsiveness.

Read the complete release notes and get the update today through the Visual Studio for Mac updater or on

Azure API Management | Azure API Management Preview in China

We’re pleased to announced that Azure API Management Preview is now available in China.

Azure API Management is a turnkey, full lifecycle solution for publishing APIs to external and internal customers. Customers use API Management to quickly create consistent and modern API gateways for existing back-end services hosted anywhere, secure and protect them from abuse and overuse, and get insights into usage and health.

Azure API Management is critical for customers who are trying to:

  • Embrace digital transformation and achieve efficiency and agility by using APIs internally and externally.
  • Grow market share by making existing services and data available to partners and public.
  • Engage customers by securely exposing critical systems to mobile and web applications, and protect them with authentication, rate limiting, and quotas.

For more information visit the API Management webpage

BizTalk Server | BizTalk Server 2013 R2 cumulative update 8 – GA

BizTalk Server 2013 R2 cumulative update 8 available

BizTalk Server 2013 R2 cumulative update 8 is a rollup of all customer-requested hot fixes since the release of BizTalk Server 2013 R2.

For more information please visit the BizTalk Blog.

Azure App Service | Java support for App Service on Linux in preview

We’re pleased to share the preview of App Service on Linux for Java apps. It uses built-in image support for Apache Tomcat and JDK to help Java developers easily deploy web/api apps to Azure. Just bring your .jar or .war file to Azure App Service and we’ll take care of the capacity provisioning, server maintenance, and load balancing. Build your own Docker image and deploy it to App Service by pointing to your desired container registry.

Once your app is on App Service, you can use the Azure SDK for Java to use Azure services such as Azure Storage, MySQL Database, and Postgre Database.