Azure, 'the cloud for modern business', receives a number of massive updates

Kareem Anderson

Azure Update roundup

Earlier this week, we briefly reported on an update to Azure, specifically that Azure’s machine learning is now a fully managed and supported service in the cloud and could be accessed through the browser. Well, that wasn’t the only trick Azure picked up in this week’s update. As our trusted enterprise Windows, reporter Mary Jo Foley would declare, Hadoop is in the house in this update as well as cluster scaling, Linux support, site recovery and more.

This update is massive and granular at the same time. The features in this week update also build on other Azure related features that have been released earlier this month which include:

  • SQL Database: General Availability of SQL Database (V12)
  • Web Sites: Support for Slot Settings
  • API Management: New Premium Tier
  • DocumentDB: New Asia and US Regions, SQL Parameterization and Increased Account Limits
  • Search: Portal Enhancements, Suggestions & Scoring, New Regions
  • Media: General Availability of Content Protection Service for Azure Media Services
  • Management: General Availability of the Azure Resource Manager

More on Machine Learning

As mentioned earlier, Azure’s Machine Learning is now in general availability as a cloud-based predictive analytic service, making it easy and convenient to create analytic solutions quickly anywhere. Another benefit is that is fully-managed service, which means there is no need to buy any additional hardware or fumble around managing VM’s manually. Sweet deal. Microsoft’s Azure team invites users to use their innovative browser base machine learning IDE. In doing so, users can drag/drop hundreds of existing ML libraries to get them up and to go quickly with their predictive analytic solutions. 

Azure Update roundup

Bring in the Apache Storm

Next up is the general availability of Apache Storm support. This update is now making it easier for users to do real-time streaming analytics using Hadoop, allowing them access the to the fully managed Apache Storm service in general availability on HDInsight. Initially, Azure’s HDInsights offered users the benefits of crunching large non-relational datasets in real time, spinning Hadoop nods with just a few clicks, minimal deployment expertise without hardware planning or maintenance and reliable Microsoft SLA. Now on top of those offerings, this update is enabling some other key features:

  • Integration with our Azure Event Hubs service – which allows you to easily process any data that is collected via Event Hubs
  • First class .NET experience on top of Apache Storm giving you the option to use both Java and .NET with it
  • Library of spouts and bolts let you easily integrate other Azure services like SQL, HBase and DocumentDB
  • Visual Studio integration that makes it easy for developers to do full project management from within the Visual Studio environment

Moving on to Storm clustering. Now developers can write Storm topologies in .NET. With the latest version of the Azure SDK, developers will access to Storm Project templates under HDInsights. This now allows developers to rest easy knowing they can get quickly started on projects without having to worry about the right references or write skeleton code needed for every Storm topology. Now that Storm is a part of HDInsight service, Storm clusters will now be easier to scale down with no impact to existing running topologies.  


The next major version of Hadoop in HDInsight clusters for Windows and Linux was also released in this update. This includes Hadoop 2.6, Hive 0.14, and some substantial updates to all of the components in the stack. These updates bring the  latest improvements in the open source ecosystem to HDInsight. For developers wanting to get started with the 3.2 cluster, they can now use the Azure Management portal or the command-line. VS tools have also been updated to include Hive query authoring, and this update can be accessed by installing Azure SDK for Visual Studio, which contains the latest HDInsight tooling. The new Linux support enables you easily to use familiar tools like SSH and Ambari to build Big Data workloads in Azure.  HDInsight on Linux clusters are built on the same Hadoop distribution as the Windows clusters, are fully integrated with Azure storage, and make it easy for customers leveraging Hadoop to take advantage of the SLA, management and support that HDInsight offers.

Oh no…

Finally in this Azure release is the general availability of more significant capabilities to Azure’s Site Recovery disaster recovery and replication portfolio. Businesses looking to leverage their Storage Area Network (SAN) to enable high performance replications across their on-premises through Hyper-V private clouds can now manipulate end-to-end storage array based replication and disaster recovery with Azure Site Recovery and System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM). To enable SAN Replication, in the Azure Management Portal, users can select SAN when configuring SCVM clouds in ASR.

Azure Update roundup

And the rest

As mentioned earlier, these features were built on the back of other updates released including:

  • Web Site support slot settings
  • New API management settings
  • Multiple Geography Deployment
  • Updates to Azure Virtual Network/VPN integration
  • Active Directory Integration
  • Increased Account Limits
  • SQL parameterization
  • Azure Portal Enhancements
  • Cross Origin Resource Sharing (CORS) Tag Boosting
  • Improved Suggestions,
  • New Regions
  • Content Protection Services
  • Application Lifecycle Boundaries
  • Enterprise Grade Access Control
  • Rich Tagging and Categorization
  • Declarative Deployment templates

For more information on this dizzying array of updates and features, visit the source link below.