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Jan262018

Microsoft Reduces Azure Standard Support to $100 Per Month

Microsoft accelerating the expansion of its hybrid cloud platform now enhanced the standard support plan of Azure for organizations running production workloads by dropping the price from $ 300 USD to a fixed cost of $100 USD per month.

Additionally, the company has also annnounced of shortening initial response times from two hours to one hour for all critical cases.

With this change, Azure customers can avail three common needs from their cloud support plan, including:

  • A fixed monthly cost that is affordable and simple to forecast
  • Fast response time for critical cases
  • A plan that covers their entire organization and eliminates guesswork in how many support plans are needed and who can use them

Also, with these changes, Azure Standard support now includes:

  • A significant price drop to a fixed cost of $100 USD per month, so forecasted support costs are completely predictable
  • Faster initial response time, now at 1 hour for critical cases
  • Continuing our current offering of unlimited 24×7 technical and billing support for your entire organization

Here are other cloud plaftform release announcements from Microsoft:

IT Service Management (ITSM) Connector for Azure is now generally available and allows to integrate Azure with any of the following IT Service Management products, like Cherwell, Provance, System Center Service Manager, or ServiceNow.

The solution brings all your log data, such as performance counters, configuration changes, updates, and more along with help desk data that include incidents, events, alerts, change requests in one place, so you can quickly troubleshoot issues and provide faster resolutions, says Microsoft.

Using ITSM solution, users will be able to:

  • Create an incident (or an event or alert) in your service desk solution based on alerts from Azure and on-premises resources.
  • Read incidents from your service desk solution and correlate with relevant log data in an Azure Log Analytics workspace.
  • Read the change request items from your service desk and correlate the change request data with a Change Tracking solution.
  • View curated dashboards for deeper insights on events, alerts incidents, and impacted systems.
  • Troubleshoot faster by correlating with other management solutions in the Log Analytics workspace.

New Alerts preview in Azure Monitor brings in a new re-imagined user interface to help create and manage alerts for any resource from a single location in the Azure Monitor blade in the Azure portal.

Microsoft also released visual tools for Azure Data Factory, that help pipelines up and running quickly without having to write a single line of code. By using a simple and intuitive code-free interface, you can now drag and drop activities on a pipeline canvas, perform test runs, debug iteratively, and deploy and monitor pipeline runs, says the company.

Also, available now are the guided tours on how to use the enabled visual authoring and monitoring features.

Azure Cosmos DB now a part of the preview of Microsoft Azure in France, giving them an opportunity to deploy services and test workloads against Azure Cosmos DB in the latest Azure regions.

The new region will get same enterprise-grade reliability and performance with the industry-leading comprehensive SLAs to support the mission-critical applications and workloads of businesses and organizations in France.

You can sign up for Azure France preview here.

Azure Cosmos DB lower initial price point available for unlimited collections. Now, instead of provisioning 2,500 RU/sec as a minimum, you can provision an unlimited collection at 1,000 RU/sec and scale in increments of 100 RU/sec. “Unlimited containers (or collections) enable to dynamically scale provisioning from as low as 1,000 RU/sec to millions of RU/sec with no limit on storage consumption.”

Azure Cosmos DB now has a native integration of Azure Functions in Visual Studio. Available generally now the integration to consume Cosmos DB change feed functionality using Azure Functions makes it much easier to develop and debug an Azure function locally which is consuming Cosmos DB change feed on Azure.

Azure Search expanding enterprise security capabilities with two new features that include: encryption feature that automatically encrypts data prior to persisting to storage and decrypts prior to retrieval.

And, the other new feature “security trimming” enables administrators to configure Azure Search with a greater level of security and use technologies such as Azure Active Directory to define groups and roles, which are then matched to user privileges to determine what content users can search and view.

Intune is now integrated with Jamf that would use Microsoft Enterprise Mobility + Security (EMS) conditional access and Jamf Pro Mac management capabilities to ensure that company data could only be accessed by trusted users, from trusted devices, using trusted apps.

Generally available to all shared customers, customers can upgrade to Jamf Pro 10.1 to get started today.

Microsoft also announced price reductions for HDInsight, a fully managed, full spectrum, open-source analytics service for enterprises.

  • Effective January 5, 2018, we have cut prices by up to 52 percent on all workloads on HDInsight, and added an additional 80 percent price reduction for Microsoft R Server add-on. As part of this price reduction, we are renaming the “premium tier cluster” to “Enterprise Security Package,” which can be added optionally to your Azure HDInsight cluster. The Enterprise Security Package is currently in preview and is priced identically to the premium tier. Learn more about HDInsight pricing.
  • General availability (GA) of Apache Kafka on HDInsight. The general availability of Apache Kafka will enable customers to build enterprise-grade, open-source, real-time analytics solutions such as IoT, fraud detection, clickstream analysis, social analytics, and more backed by Azure HDInsight’s SLA of 99.9 percent. Pricing for Apache Kafka on HDInsight is currently in preview. Starting March 1, 2018, GA prices will be effective. Disks for Apache Kafka will be billed at regular GA rates. Read more about Apache Kafka on HDInsight, and learn more about pricing.
  • Integration with Log Analytics—GA. Azure Log Analytics is now integrated with Azure HDInsight to enable enterprise-grade monitoring for mission-critical analytics workloads. Get alerts, monitor, and debug all your Azure HDInsight workloads.
  • Integration with Power BI DirectQuery in preview. Create dynamic reports based on data and metrics you already have on your interactive query clusters. Build visualizations on your entire data set faster with the most recent data.
  • Development tools update for Spark. This release adds support in Visual Studio Code for Spark on Azure HDInsight. Developers can build robust production data pipelines and debug distributed Spark jobs. This also brings in the interactive experience for Python and Spark in Visual Studio Code.

The general availability of Microsoft Cognitive Services Language Understanding service announced, provides simple tools that enable you to build your own custom language models, allowing any application or bot to understand your commands and act accordingly.

Here is what it gets:

  • an updated user interface with expansion up to 500 intents (action identified in a sentence) and 100 entities (information extracted to complete the task associated to the intent) per application.
  • Language Understanding is now available in seven new regions on top of the five existing regions. This will help to improve network latency and bandwidth.
  • Language Understanding service also now support more languages for its various features, such as:
  • prebuilt entities (representing common concepts like date and time) previously available in English are now available in French, Spanish, and Portuguese.
  • Prebuilt domains (off-the-shelf collections of intents and entities grouped by domain that you can directly add and use in your application) are now also available in Chinese
  • Phrase suggestions that help the developer customize Language Understanding service vocabulary to the bot domain vocabulary are available in seven new languages—Chinese, Spanish, Japanese, French, Portuguese, German, and Italian.

Azure SQL Database Automatic tuning gets two new improvements, the first is a new feature called “automatic plan correction,” that includes the tuning option “Force Last Good Plan.” The other feature includes an ability to “configure automatic tuning through T-SQL,” providing more flexibility in utilizing scripts to create and manage databases.

Elastic Database client library for Azure SQL database generally available for Java provides tools to help developers scale out the data tier of their applications using sharding technology, including support for multi-tenancy patterns for Software as a Service (SaaS) applications.

Azure Site Recovery’s Deployment Planner will now provide you with insights into the network bandwidth and storage needed to achieve business continuity. The Deployment Planner now supports Hyper-V in addition to supporting VMware.

The cost planner tool inside the Deployment Planner can help you estimate your network, storage, and compute costs before you run your applications in Azure.

Microsoft Azure Information Protection now let you create protected WPX on iOS. With this enhancement, users can now create protected Word, PowerPoint, and Excel documents on their iOS devices.

Microsoft also annouced a new integration between Azure Information Protection and Microsoft Cloud App Security in preview. Microsoft Cloud App Security can scan and classify files in cloud apps and automatically apply Azure Information Protection labels for protection—including encryption. Learn more about cloud app security.

New features and updates are now available in Power BI Desktop, such as enhancements to reporting capabilities that now include show and hide pages, control data label background color for Cartesian and maps visuals, and much more.

Additional custom visuals are also now available via PowerApps, TreeViz, Funnel with Source by MAQ Software, Box and Whisker chart by MAQ Software, and more.

The team also made improvements to analytics and data connectivity.

In addition, more new and most frequently requested Power BI features are now available to users and business analysts, includeing: added support for larger datasets.

Power BI Premium now supports uploading Power BI Desktop (.PBIX) files that are up to 10 GB in size—a 10 times increase compared to before. Power BI datasets are highly compressed, representing data volumes many times their size. This means that in practice, Premium in conjunction with large datasets translates to self-service, real-time exploration against data with potentially hundreds of millions of rows.

The Reddit solution template suite combines AI with interactive visual analytics to reveal how different brands are performing across the Reddit platform, from companies and CEOs down to individual products.

Update 01/30: Microsoft acquires PlayFab, a complete backend platform provider to accelerate cloud-connected game development.

PlayFab’s tools are designed to be used by game developers across all platforms (mobile, PC and console). This acquisition extends the investments and work we’ve done on Microsoft Azure to provide a world-class cloud platform for the gaming industry.

Also, Bing Maps has announced a new “Fleet Tracker” solution that includes the Azure based backend of services and storage`, a web interface for tracking assets, and client code for Android phones.

With the Bing Maps Fleet Tracker, “users can have their own deployment live today providing the ability to track the location of your businesses phones in real time!”

Right after deploying the Fleet Tracker solution to Azure, the following functionality without modifying or writing any code is available:

  • Easy to track Android Devices. Register devices for tracking by shooting a QR code or manually entering device information in the web application. The mobile companion app features client control of when location tracking is on or off, giving the mobile worker complete control of their location information.
  • Trip Detection. GPS points are analyzed as they arrive in the service to determine trips and destination locations automatically.
  • Geofence based alerts. You can create regions by drawing on the map, and have an email alert sent whenever a specified asset enters or leaves the geofenced area. In the screenshot below you can see a new geofence being created represented by the maroon box. Whenever one of the selected assets enters this region, an email is sent to the specified distribution list.
  • Geofence Alerts
  • Reporting. Get an understanding of how many miles your fleet is driving, trip durations, geofence activity and more.
  • Reporting
  • Extensibility. All source code provided making it easy to integrate with your own backend data and mobile applications

Get start by checking out the documentation on GitHub.

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