Microsoft announces SQL Server 2017, Azure Analysis Services at Data Amp

Kit McDonald

Geared towards teaching developers how data can impact their apps and services, the Microsoft Data Amp event hosted today tossed in a bit of news of its own. The free online webinar showcased the future of machine learning, including announcing SQL Server 2017, releasing the Cognitive Services: Face API to developers, and the general availability of Azure Analysis Services as of today.

The SQL Server 2017 is the next step for developers to get their hands on machine learning functions. It includes Python support (including Python/R) and has the ability to take on data intensive computing. The SQL Server 2017 Community Technology Preview (CTP) 2.0 release can be downloaded as of today for Windows, Linux, and Docker.

But that wasn’t the only big announcement for developers. Another included the release of Azure Analysis Services into general availability today, making complex data into actionable insights. Furthermore, the Cognitive Services Team released the Face API, Computer Vision API, and Content Moderator tools to developers as well.

  • Face API detects human faces and compares similar ones, organizes people into groups according to visual similarity, and identifies previously tagged people and their emotions in images.

  • Computer Vision API gives you the tools to understand the contents of any image. It creates tags that identify objects, beings like celebrities, or actions in an image, and crafts coherent sentences to describe it. You can now detect landmarks and handwriting in images. Handwriting detection remains in preview.

  • Content Moderator provides machine assisted moderation of text and images, augmented with human review tools. Video moderation is available in preview as part of Azure Media Services.

This is the same API that online adult services have already adopted. The porn industry was quick to pick up on using the same face tracker, offering to search for ‘lookalike’ matches for their customers. But that isn’t the only use for the Face API. Now it is able to collect the emotion of the facial image ranging in decimal probabilities from anger, contempt, disgust, fear, happiness, neutral, sadness, and surprise. This is on top of collecting an estimated age, gender (mostly assumed by facial hair attributes), facial points, and head pose.

A new release of the Microsoft R Server 9.1 was also highlighted during the Data Amp event. The pre-trained neural network models support Sparkly R, SparkETL, and Sparks SQL as well as CPU support for neutral networks. Web management was also made more secure with better permissions for admins to distribute.

All in all, today was a victory for developers that no doubt are excited to get their hands on these tools from Microsoft. If you’re a developer, we’d love to hear about which announcement excited you more. The full video replay is available on MSDN.