Accelerating the digital transformation, Microsoft will be releasing Dynamics 365 and Business Application Platform “Spring 2018” refresh in April across various Cloud services.
A wave of innovation across the entire product line will unleash several new capabilities and features with a focus in three core areas: “new business applications, new intelligent capabilities infused throughout, and transformational new application platform capabilities,” said Microsoft.
Here are some highlights of what’s coming this spring:
Dynamics 365, which is built around from the customers data and intelligence will be getting more modules to help unlock more powerful insights and efficiencies for organizations of all sizes everywhere.
New Business Process Module
Dynamics 365 for Marketing, a new marketing automation app currently in preview will become generally available as part of spring release. Also, a new SKU “Dynamics 365 for Sales Professional,” officially described as a steamlined version of current Sales application with core Sales Force Automation capabilities wil be available.
The solution optimizes sales processes and productivity from opportunity management to sales planning and performance management.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) Infused
Microsoft is bringing cutting-edge AI capabilities infused throughout Dynamics 365, for example, Dynamics 365 for Sales offer following embedded intelligence capabilities:
- relationship assistant which helps sellers see alerts and reminders to move relationships forward
- auto capture with Outlook helps sellers save time by analyzing email to find messages relevant to specific accounts and then track in Dynamics 365 for Sales with just one click
- email engagement delivers insights from email with customers for sellers to prioritize most receptive contacts.
Microsoft is also delivering out-of-the-box insights through new “Power BI Insights apps” across marketing, sales, service, operations, finance and talent. Insights are generated by applying advanced intelligence to a subset of unique Microsoft data. Additionally, customers can incorporate third-party data from a range of sources to enhance relevance and accuracy.
Preview of the new Insights apps, including Power BI for Sales Insights and Power BI for Service Insights, can be customized in Power BI and further tailored by applying full power of Azure data services. These apps work across Dynamics 365 Sales, Service, Operations, Finance and Talent.
Power BI for Sales Insights includes “an embedded experience” for Dynamics 365 for Sales, which offers users customer relationship analytics and predictive lead scoring.
The company’s new Dynamics 365 Business Central ERP service for SMBs (“Tenerife”) also is part of the Spring ’18 update, as is the recently introduced public preview of Power BI for Mixed Reality. Officials said the Spring ’18 update also more deeply integrates Dynamics 365 with Outlook, Teams, SharePoint, Stream video, Azure, LinkedIn and Bing.
New Business Application Platform Capabilities
New applications building alongside and on top of Dynamics 365 and Office 365 with PowerApps, Microsoft Flow and Power BI will bring in significant update to Common Data Service for Apps that ships with PowerApps.
In addition, Microsoft also introducing a new Common Data Service for Analytics in Power BI that let organizations integrate data from multiple sources and empower users with access to business analytics across all data relevant to them.
In other Microsoft Cloud Platform updates for Microsoft Azure, Power BI and other services, see the annoncements below:
FastTrack for Azure provides direct assistance from Azure engineers, working together with partners, to help customers build Azure solutions quickly and confidently.
FastTrack brings best practices and tools from real customer experiences to guide customers from set up, configuration, and development to production of Azure.
FastTrack for Azure is now available to eligible customers located in the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and Western Europe.
Azure Monitoring Services Alerts now generally available let user set up alerts to monitor the metrics and log data for the entire stack across your infrastructure, application, and Azure platform.
Support for backup of large disk virtual machine (VMs) alongside improvements aimed at reducing time taken for backup and restore are now available. Based on a new VM backup stack these are available for both managed and unmanaged disks with multiple feature improvements:
- Large disk support—Backup VMs with disk sizes up to 4 TB (4,095 GB), both managed and unmanaged.
- Instant recovery point—A recovery point is available as soon as the snapshot is done as part of the backup job. This eliminates the need to wait to trigger restore until the data transfer phase of the backup is completed. This is particularly useful in scenarios where you want to apply a patch.
- Backup and Restore performance improvements—As part of this new announcement, we’re retaining the snapshots taken as part of the backup job for seven days. This will help us to compute the changes between two backup jobs in an efficient manner to reduce the backup time. These snapshots can also be used to trigger restore, and reduce the restore time from hours to minutes.
- Distribute the disks of restored VM—If you’re using unmanaged VM, you might have noticed that all disks restore to the same storage account. We’re adding a capability to tell us to distribute those disks to the same set of storage accounts as the original VM in order to reduce the reconfiguration needed post restore.
You’ll see a banner on the Recovery Services vault dashboard. Clicking on the banner will open a screen where you can upgrade the stack and get above feature improvements. You can upgrade the complete subscription from any of the vaults. Once upgraded, all VM backups in the subscription will get backed up using the new stack.
Please execute following cmdlets from an elevated PowerShell terminal:
- Sign in to your Azure Account.
- PS C:> Login-AzureRmAccount
- Select the subscription you want to register for preview.
- PS C:> Get-AzureRmSubscription –SubscriptionName “Subscription Name” | Select-AzureRmSubscription
- Register this subscription for private preview.
- PS C:> Register-AzureRmProviderFeature -FeatureName “InstantBackupandRecovery” –ProviderNamespace Microsoft.RecoveryServices
Now in preview, Azure Security Center is built into the virtual machine experience, making it simpler for you to gain insight into the security posture of your virtual machines and take action.
Azure Traffic Manager announces general availability of Real User Measurements capability that provides increased accuracy of routing decisions made by Azure Traffic Manager for queries against their profiles.
Also, generally available now “Traffic View” let users understand where their user bases are located (up to a local DNS resolver level granularity), the volume of traffic originating from these regions, the representative latency experienced by these users. They can also deep dive into the specific traffic patterns from each of these user bases to Azure regions where the customer has presence. This information will be available in a geographic map in the Azure portal, and can be downloaded as raw data. This will give customers actionable intelligence on how to manage their capacity at existing Azure regions as well as new Azure regions to which they need to expand.
New features and updates for Power BI Desktop, include:
Reporting: Report page tooltips is now in preview. Bookmarking is now generally available, as is display units and precision control for table and matrix columns. The ability to turn off the visual header in reading mode for a report, and improved default visual placement are both now available.
The following custom visuals are now available: Mapbox, User List by CloudScope, Timeline by CloudScope, KPI Chart by Akvelon, R DataTable, Outliers Detection, Data Insights by MAQ Software, Dumbbell Chart by MAQ Software, and Clustering using OPTICS by MAQ Software.
Data connectivity: New SAP HANA connector enhancements—DirectQuery multidimensional support and SSL certificate validation support—are now available. SAP BW DirectQuery and Azure Analysis Services connector are now generally available.
Error reporting: Improved error reporting and view previous errors you’ve encountered are now available.
New features and updates are now available in the Power BI mobile apps. These include report tooltip touch optimization, Power BI for Mixed Reality app (in preview), persistent filters, phone optimization for embedded reports, and external sharing.
Power BI service: New and most frequently requested Power BI features are now available to end users: Automatically install apps, P4 and P5 capacities on Premium, Organizational custom visuals (Preview), February update for On-premises data gateway.
Azure Database for MySQL and Azure Database for PostgreSQL are now generally available with an uptime SLA of 99.99 percent. These services bring the community versions of MySQL and PostgreSQL database engines together with built-in high availability, elastic scaling for performance, and industry leading security and compliance.
Azure database services for MySQL and PostgreSQL enable flexibility for your apps—from your choice of framework and language to a rich ecosystem of tools and services, making it easier for you to build intelligent apps faster.
Microsoft also announced inclusion of “columnstore” technology in Standard SLO Azure SQL Database. Beginning in March 2018, users with databases that are at or above the S3 level will be able to create columnstore indexes in their databases.
Azure SQL Data Warehouse now generally available in three additional regions—Japan West, Australia East, and India West. SQL Data Warehouse is a fast, flexible, and secure analytics platform for the enterprise, and these additional locations bring the product worldwide availability count to all 33 regions—more than any other major cloud data warehouse provider.
Deployment groups are now generally available in Visual Studio Team Services Release Management and now supports robust, in-the-box, multimachine deployments.
Users can now orchestrate deployments across multiple machines and perform rolling updates while ensuring the high availability of applications throughout the deployment process.
Cutomers can now start their organization’s DevOps adoption with Azure Dev Test Labs as it’s coming to Azure Government cloud in Fairfax.
Azure DevTest Labs, a self-service sandbox environment in Azure let quickly create Dev/Test environments while minimizing waste and controlling costs.
As lab creator, you can select settings for lab use, security, compliance, and governance. You define the VM bases available via Azure Marketplace images, custom images, or predefined formulas that users can create on demand. Authorized lab users can use reusable artifacts to run extensions and deploy applications once a VM is created. In this way, IT is not a bottleneck, and your software teams are empowered to work with agility and self-service—the DevOps way.
Public sector customers can use Azure DevTest Labs to address challenges like:
- Improving resource use and cost optimization.
- Modernizing legacy applications and IT infrastructure.
- Employing agile development and DevOps with minimal organizational structure change.
- Nurturing citizen developers in low-risk scenarios.
Azure Active Directory automated expiration for Office 365 groups now generally available helps getting rid of unused groups in a tenant. The tenant owner can now see greater details on their groups in the My Apps portal, and can renew directly in the portal. The notification emails have also been redesigned to simplify the user workflow.
Update 03/22: An updated version of System Center Updates Publisher (SCUP) is now available and adds support for Windows 10 and Windows Server 2016.
The update also enables independent software vendors or line-of-business application developers to manage custom updates.
Other improvements include:
- Indexing for quicker imports of previously imported catalogs – Catalog producers can now index their catalogs. This will allow users to more quickly import large catalogs containing few new updates.
- Inclusion of signing certificates within updates catalogs – Catalog producers can now include signing certificates with their updates catalogs. This enables users to add the certificates to the trusted publishers list during import so that approval prompts will not block publish operations.
- Signature Timestamp – Updates published to a WSUS server will by default have the signature time-stamped. Note, this functionality requires internet access. If you have upgraded from preview 1 this will not be automatically enabled. To enable or disable this functionality or configure the timestamp server that is used, see the Advanced page under Options.
Using SCUP, you can:
- Import updates from external catalogs (non-Microsoft update catalogs).
- Modify update definitions including applicability, and deployment metadata.
- Export updates to external catalogs.
- Publish updates to an update server.
Also, a second preview of the next Visual Studio 2017 version 15.7 update is available now. The top highlights of this Preview include:
- Improved intellisense for conditional XAML
- Additional C++ development improvements
- Streamlined configuration for updating UWP apps
- Inclusion of TypeScript 2.8
- Tooling to prevent Web application permission problems
- Support for building additional project types on the build servers.
To use the Preview, download the install here, or update the bits directly from the IDE. Additionally, if you have an Azure subscription, you can now provision a virtual machine (VM) with this latest preview, head over here.
Microsoft also made available today, the first preview of Visual Studio for Mac version 7.5. The top highlights of this release, include:
- Improving Azure Functions development with support for the .NET Core Preview SDK and with the introduction of new Azure Functions templates.
- Adding support for the latest releases of .NET Core and C#, with .NET Core 2.1 Preview and C# version 7.2.
- Making it easier for Xamarin.Forms developers to build apps using .NET Standard.
- Continuing to improve IDE performance and stability.
You can obtain this update by changing the updater channel in Visual Studio for Mac to use Beta channel.