Elevate your enterprise data technology and strategy at Transform 2021.
Microsoft typically devotes a chunk of Build, its annual developer conference in Seattle, to product unveilings, updates, and various announcements across its portfolio, and it stuck with tradition this year. During a keynote address on Monday, the company took the wraps off of the new and enhanced offerings in Azure, its cloud computing platform.
Internet of things (IoT)
First on the agenda was Azure IoT Edge, Microsoft’s cloud monitoring and deployment solution for internet of things devices.
IoT Edge now integrates with Kubernetes, Google’s open source container orchestration framework. Meanwhile, the latest release of Azure IoT Central — a fully managed IoT software-as-a-service (SaaS) offering — features better rules processing, custom rules for funneling data to analytics services, new dashboards and data visualizations, inbound and outbound data connectors, and white labeling and app branding options.
Kubernetes integration is in preview, and the new Azure IoT Central features are available for select customer trials.
As for Azure Sphere, Microsoft’s Linux-based operating system optimized for microcontroller devices (i.e., those with constrained compute resources), there’s a new set of hardware solutions available for prototyping and production that can be integrated into legacy internet of things (IoT) devices.
Azure Maps, Microsoft’s ever-expanding suite of geospatial mapping, search, routing, and traffic services, has a new API: Azure Mobility Service. Starting in June, it’ll provide real-time public transit information, including nearby stops, routes, and trip intelligence, along with transit services that drive routing and intelligence services.
On the Bing Maps front, the updated Bing Maps software development kit (SDK) contains a new library for building Android and iOS apps and new controls powered by a full-vector 3D map engine. There’s also a new SDK for mixed-reality apps built in Unity that handles 3D terrain data streaming and rendering, including select high-level detail of cities. And lastly, there’s an API — Bing Maps Multi-Itinerary Optimization — designed to help drivers, planners, and dispatchers automate planning while optimizing their fleets, based on drivers’ shift schedules, service time windows, duration, predicted route traffic, and priorities.
New database services are in tow, perhaps the most notable of which is Azure SQL Database serverless. It’s a new compute tier for databases with intermittent usage that aims to optimize price performance and simplify performance management. How? By automatically scaling for single databases based on workload demand and pausing compute during periods of inactivity, and by billing for usage by the second as opposed to by the hour or month.
It’s available in public preview for single databases.
A new Hyperscale service tier in Azure Database for PostgreSQL also made its debut this morning, and as Microsoft explains in a blog post, it allows developers to scale out compute, storage, and memory resources as needed. It’s available in public preview as Hyperscale (Citus) for Azure Database for PostgreSQL, and is generally available as Azure SQL Database Hyperscale.
Azure Cosmos DB, a schema-free database service with a range of consistency options, now offers APIs for Apache Spark and for etcd, a distributed key-value store designed to securely store data across cloud clusters. Both APIs are available in public preview, as is a new Python notebook experience for all native APIs.
Last but not least, thanks to enhancements in the Azure Database Migration Service, Azure SQL Database users can now perform online migrations of Oracle databases (either on-premises or in virtual machines) to Azure Database for PostgreSQL.
Azure Data Factory, Microsoft’s cloud-based data integration service, gained two new components earlier this year that enter preview this week: Mapping Data Flows and Wrangling Data Flows. The former (in public preview) enables users to create no-code data transformation jobs, while the latter (in private preview) lets them discover and prepare data visually.
In somewhat related news, Azure Data Warehouse, which provides a relational data store that can scale to petabytes, now natively supports JSON data and affords administrators fine-grained control over query priorities via a new Workload Management Importance feature. It’s gained Dynamic Data Masking, which masks sensitive data to non-privileged users, and its query processing performance is much improved thanks to Results Sets Caching and Materialized Views.
With respect to Azure Data Lake Storage Gen2 (ADLS Gen2), Microsoft’s data lake solution for big data analytics, it’s now interoperable with Blobs, or stores of unstructured data. Customers eligible for the private preview can now use Azure Blob Storage and the Azure Data Lake Storage API to manage the same data.
Meanwhile, Azure Data Explorer, an indexing and querying service that supports incoming, raw, and streaming data, can now query directly from data lakes and record various metrics for posterity. The update is in private preview.
In public preview in all regions, Azure Managed Disks — which handle storage accounts associated with Azure Windows virtual machines — now supports direct uploads at sizes from 32GB to 32TiB.