Arguably the biggest Azure news to come out of Microsoft’s Build 2017 developer conference is the debut of Azure Cosmos DB. The schema-free database service offers developers flexibility with five consistency choices, instead of forcing them to choose between strong and eventual consistency. The five models are as follows: Strong, Bounded Staleness, Session, Consistent Prefix, and Eventual.

Cosmos DB is a superset of DocumentDB, the company’s cloud-based NoSQL database for storing and serving up information for applications in JSON. Scott Guthrie, executive vice president of the Microsoft Cloud and Enterprise group, described it as “the first globally distributed, multi-model database service delivering turnkey global horizontal scale out with guaranteed uptime and millisecond latency at the 99th percentile.”

He promised service-level agreements across four dimensions: high availability, performance latency, performance throughput, and data consistency. Other highlights include high performance, fault tolerance, being able to elastically scale across any number of geographical regions, and automatically indexing data.

The Azure announcements didn’t stop there.

Guthrie said onstage that 90 percent of Fortune 500 companies are using the Microsoft Cloud. That number is up from 85 percent at Build 2016.

Azure IoT Edge arrived in preview. The technology, which supports both Windows and Linux, extends cloud computing to IoT devices.

The new Azure Cloud Shell, included inside the Azure portal, provides an authenticated, browser-based shell experience accessible from anywhere. Azure manages and updates Cloud Shell with commonly used command line tools and support for multiple popular programming languages, and each session is synced to a $Home directory.

Azure SQL Database is getting general availability of Threat Detection, a preview of Microsoft Graph support, and a new Managed Instance private preview. The last one offers SQL Server instance-level compatibility and helps organizations migrate existing SQL Server apps to Azure SQL Database.

Joining Azure SQL Database, Microsoft announced, will be Azure Database for MySQL and Azure Database for PostgreSQL options in Azure. Microsoft promises they are 100 percent compatible with all existing drivers and tools.

Microsoft’s new database migration services (in preview) move Oracle and SQL Server databases into Azure SQL Database with near-zero application downtime, and at no extra cost or configuration. In short, Microsoft wants Azure to let developers use any database and use it as a service.

Windows Server Containers support in Azure Service Fabric is now generally available (you’ll need to get the 5.6 runtime and 2.6 SDK release), helping developers containerize existing .NET apps and deploy them to Azure. Service Fabric support for Docker Compose for deploying containerized apps is now in preview. And Visual Studio Team Services integration allows for continuous integration and deployment of these containerized applications.

Azure Batch AI Training debuted in private preview today. The new offering will allow developers and data scientists to run their models against multiple CPUs, multiple GPUs, and, eventually, field-programmable gate arrays. They can choose any framework, including Microsoft Cognitive Toolkit, TensorFlow, and Caffe.

Azure Functions Visual Studio tooling preview, available as a Visual Studio 2017 extension, allows developers to integrate Azure Functions development by leveraging third-party extensions, testing frameworks, and continuous integration systems. Azure Application Insights support means teams can measure performance, detect issues, and diagnose the source of the problem with serverless apps. Azure Functions Runtime preview extends all this to on-premises or anywhere outside of the Azure cloud.

Last but not least, Microsoft is offering Storage Service Encryption for Azure Files on all available redundancy types at no additional cost. All data being stored in Azure Files is thus now encrypted using AES-256.

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