Azure announcements on General Availability, Public Preview and pricing (October 2015)

Things are changing fast in Azure and cool things keep coming! In October there were a lot of announcements of services that went in General Availability or Public Preview, also there were several pricing changes. In this blog post a summary.

Below a small selection from the General Availability and Public Preview announcements:

Below all the General Availabily, Public Preview and pricing notifications of October 2, 14 and 29.

October, 29 2015

In-Memory OLTP and Real-Time Operational Analytics for Azure SQL Database in public preview
In-Memory OLTP with extended T-SQL surface area is now in public preview in Azure SQL Database. With In-Memory OLTP, a significantly larger number of applications are able to improve transaction performance and go up to 30 times faster, plus benefit from increased concurrency. To complement these enhancements, we’ve also introduced our in-memory columnstore that delivers queries up to 100 times faster, for real-time operational analytics on top of the accelerated transaction performance provided by In-Memory OLTP. For more information, please visit the In-Memory in Azure SQL Database documentation webpage.
Regional pricing for Azure SQL Database Premium P4 and P11 begins December 1, 2015
Pricing | SQL Database webpage
Through November 30, 2015, regions other than South Central US are offered at a promotional rate for P4 and P11 databases. Regional rates will be effective starting December 1, 2015.
Azure App Service Premium plan to become generally available
Pricing | App Service webpage
The Azure App Service Premium plan is designed for production apps and supports larger numbers of scale instances and additional enterprise capabilities, while still including all the advanced capabilities found in the Standard plan. The Premium plan also offers the ability to create an App Service Environment, which provides full isolation and operates in your virtual network. An App Service Environment can scale up to 50 instances, but more can be available upon request. Effective December 1, 2015, the App Service Premium plan will be generally available. The current 50-percent preview discount will remain in effect until November 30, 2015. In addition, please note that when enterprise connectors and BizTalk Services become generally available, the price of these capabilities is subject to change.
Azure Data Lake Analytics in public preview
Pricing | Data Lake Analytics webpage
Azure Data Lake Analytics is a new distributed analytics service built on Apache YARN that dynamically scales so you can focus on your business goals, not on distributed infrastructure. Instead of deploying, configuring, and tuning hardware, you write queries to transform your data and help extract valuable insights. This analytics service can handle jobs of any scale instantly by simply setting the dial for how much power you need. You pay for your job only when it is running, making Data Lake Analytics cost-effective. Data Lake Analytics supports Azure Active Directory so you can integrate access and roles with your on-premises identity system. It also includes U-SQL, a language that unifies the benefits of SQL with the expressive power of user code. U-SQL’s scalable, distributed runtime lets you analyze data more efficiently in the store and across SQL servers in Azure, Azure SQL Database, and Azure SQL Data Warehouse.
Azure Data Lake Store in public preview
Pricing | Data Lake Store webpage
Azure Data Lake Store provides a single repository where you can capture data of any size, type, and speed simply—without forcing changes to your application as the data scales. In the store, data can be shared for collaboration with enterprise-grade security. It’s also designed for high-performance processing and analytics from HDFS applications (for example, Azure HDInsight, Azure Data Lake Analytics, Hortonworks, Cloudera, and MapR) and tools, including support for low-latency workloads. For example, data can be ingested in real time from sensors and devices for Internet of Things (IoT) solutions or from online shopping websites, and placed into the store without the restriction of fixed limits on account or file size.
Azure Resource Health in public preview
Azure Resource Health discloses the health of each of the Azure resources (for example, virtual machines [VMs], web apps, and SQL databases) to help quickly identify the root cause of a problem. Based on the root cause, it provides actionable guidance and tools to help resolve the issues, including the option to submit a support ticket. Azure Resource Health is in public preview and can be accessed via the Azure preview portal. For more information, please visit the Azure Blog.
Azure HDInsight for Linux moving to regional meters for Australia, Japan, and Brazil
Pricing | HDInsight webpage
Until December 1, 2015, customers using Azure HDInsight for Linux clusters in Japan datacenters will be charged with global meters and global pricing. However, beginning on December 1, 2015, customers in Japan, Australia, and Brazil datacenters will be charged using regional pricing. When this change occurs, it may affect your billing dependent on these respective geographies.
Azure Notification Hubs billing model changes from per-subscription to per-namespace basis
Azure Notification Hubs provides a highly scalable, cross-platform push notification infrastructure that enables you to broadcast push notifications to millions of users at once or tailor notifications to individual users. You can use Notification Hubs with any connected mobile application—whether it’s built on Azure Virtual Machines, Azure Cloud Services, the Web Apps feature in Azure App Service, or Azure Mobile Services. Effective December 1, 2015, Notification Hubs functionality will be available on a per-namespace basis rather than per subscription. Notification Hubs has Free, Basic, and Standard tiers, and the price points will remain the same. The number of included push notifications retains the same all-up limit across namespaces. For Basic and Standard tiers, we guarantee that at least 99.9 percent of the time, properly configured applications will be able to send notifications or perform registration management operations.
October 14, 2015

Help secure data in Azure SQL Database with authentication, authorization, and encryption
Pricing | SQL Database webpage
Azure SQL Database offers a set of built-in features to help secure your data from malicious and unauthorized users. You can choose from a portfolio of simple-to-implement features that help you protect your data and build more secure applications within Azure. New features include:

  • SQL Database support for Microsoft Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) authentication now in public preview. Azure AD authentication, a mechanism of connecting to SQL Database by using identities in Azure AD for managed and federated domains, is now available in SQL Database. With Azure AD authentication, you can manage the identities of database users and other Microsoft services in one central location.
  • Row-Level Security generally available. Row-Level Security allows you to restrict access to rows of data based on a user’s identity, role memberships, or query execution context. It centralizes your access logic within the database itself, which simplifies your application code and reduces the risk of accidental data disclosure. Row-Level Security supports both filter predicates, which restrict row-level read access, and block predicates (now in public preview), which restrict row-level write access.
  • Dynamic data masking to become generally available. Dynamic data masking limits sensitive data exposure by masking it to nonprivileged users. Dynamic data masking helps prevent unauthorized access to sensitive data by enabling customers to designate how much of the sensitive data to reveal, with minimal impact on the application layer. It operates by hiding the sensitive data in the result set of a query over designated database fields, while leaving the underlying database operations unaffected.
  • Always Encrypted to be in public preview soon. Always Encrypted is a feature designed to help protect sensitive data, such as credit card numbers or national identification numbers (for example, U.S. Social Security numbers), stored in SQL Server databases and SQL Database. Always Encrypted allows clients to encrypt sensitive data inside client applications and not reveal the encryption keys to the database. As a result, Always Encrypted distinguishes between those who own the data (and can view it) and those who manage the data (but should have no access).
  • Transparent data encryption generally available. Transparent data encryption helps you meet compliance requirements by encrypting your databases, associated backups, and transaction log files at rest without requiring changes to your applications. It’s based on SQL Server transparent data encryption technology, which encrypts the storage of an entire database by using an industry standard AES-256 symmetric database encryption key. SQL Database protects this database encryption key with a service-managed certificate. All key management for database copying, geo-replication, and database restores anywhere in SQL Database is handled by the service. Enable it on your database with two clicks in the Azure preview portal: click ON, and then click Save.
All these features are available for your applications leveraging SQL Database. Many more security features are available in SQL Database. To start using these features, please read the overview on securing your SQL Database across connectivity, authentication, authorization, encryption, auditing, and compliance.
Full-Text Search for Azure SQL Database generally available
Pricing | SQL Database webpage
For applications that manage and store character-based data in Azure SQL Database, Full-Text Search provides fast, rich search functionality integrated into the database platform. In addition to preview capabilities, we enhanced the support for .xml doc types and the self-service diagnostic experience through XEvents. Users can now more easily troubleshoot and are able to identify issues like indexing errors or unsupported doc types. This further optimizes the search experience and brings it closer to on-premises SQL Server capabilities. Full-Text Search is available in all service tiers in Azure SQL Database Update through familiar T-SQL syntax and Microsoft SQL Server tools. For more information, please visit the Full-Text Search documentation webpage.
Azure Rights Management document tracking generally available
Document tracking, a feature of Azure Rights Management, enables document owners to track activities on the sensitive files they share with others. You can track recipients opening files, unauthorized users being denied access, the latest state of files, and more, all via the web. You can also view the geographical locations where files were accessed, and, with a single click, revoke access to a shared file. This feature is available as part of an Azure Rights Management Premium subscription, Microsoft Enterprise Mobility Suite, or Microsoft Enterprise Cloud Suite. For more information, please visit the Azure RMS document tracking blog post.
Azure Premium Storage generally available in additional regions
Pricing | Premium Storage webpage
Azure Premium Storage is a solid-state drive (SSD)–based storage solution designed to support input/output (I/O)–intensive workloads. With Premium Storage, customers can add up to 64 TB of persistent storage per virtual machine (VM), with more than 80,000 I/O Operations Per Second (IOPS) per VM and extremely low latencies for read operations. Offering an SLA for 99.9 percent availability, Premium Storage is now available in the Central US and North Europe regions, as well as other regions previously announced.
Azure Site Recovery integration with SQL Server AlwaysOn in public preview
Azure Site Recovery now provides native support for SQL Server AlwaysOn. SQL Server Availability Groups can be added to a recovery plan along with VMs. All the capabilities of your recovery plan—including sequencing, scripting, and manual actions—can be leveraged to orchestrate the failover of a multitier application using an SQL database configured with AlwaysOn replication. Site Recovery is now available through Microsoft Operations Management Suite, the all-in-one IT management solution for Windows or Linux, across on-premises or cloud environments. For more information, please visit the Site Recovery webpage.
Azure Active Directory Domain Services in public preview
Azure Active Directory Domain Services provides scalable, high-performance, managed domain services such as domain join, LDAP, Kerberos, Windows Integrated Authentication, and Group Policy support as a service. With the click of a button, administrators can enable managed domain services for VMs and directory-aware applications deployed in Azure Infrastructure Services. By maintaining compatibility with Windows Server Active Directory, Domain Services provides an easy way to migrate traditional on-premises applications to the cloud. For more information, please visit the Azure Active Directory Domain Services webpage.
Azure Active Directory Application Proxy enhancements
Azure Active Directory Application Proxy provides remote access and single sign-on (SSO) for many types of on-premises web applications, side by side with the thousands of SaaS applications that Azure AD supports. Now it expands its capabilities by providing SSO for even more types of web applications including Remote Desktop, non-Windows apps, and applications hosted in cloud IaaS platforms. For more information, please visit the Using Application Proxy to publish applications for secure remote access documentation webpage.
Azure Backup support for application workloads generally available
Azure Backup can now back up your on-premises application workloads, including Microsoft SQL Server, Hyper-V VMs, Microsoft SharePoint, and Microsoft Exchange. You can back up your applications to a local disk or to Azure, allowing you to eliminate local tape libraries and leverage the unlimited storage capability of Azure. You can also manage all your on-premises backups from a single user interface. Backup continues to support backups of your production IaaS VMs in Azure and to help protect your Windows client data, along with your shared files and folders. Backup is now available through Microsoft Operations Management Suite, the all-in-one IT management solution for Windows or Linux, across on-premises or cloud environments. For more information, please visit the Azure Backup webpage.
October 2, 2015
Azure HDInsight makes Apache Hadoop on Linux generally available
Pricing | HDInsight webpage
Previously in public preview, the ability to select Linux clusters when deploying Apache Hadoop workloads in Azure HDInsight became generally available on August 21, 2015. Now customers can more easily move existing Hadoop workloads into the cloud with an expanded set of open source, big data components running managed Hadoop in Azure. This also unlocks independent software vendors (ISVs) with value-added apps for integrating Hadoop on-premises with Linux—including applications like Datameer and Trifacta, which prepare data for analysis; Dataguise and BlueTalon, which help make Hadoop more secure and governed; and AtScale and Zoomdata, which let business users visualize and analyze Hadoop in compelling ways.
Linux clusters running managed Hadoop in HDInsight are updated, monitored, and operated by Azure, so customers can focus on queries and data, not machine management or Hadoop patching. As a generally available service, HDInsight falls under the Azure service-level agreement (SLA) for 99.9 percent availability, which means we’ll monitor and drive uptime for your clusters all day, every day. Built on Ubuntu and Hortonworks Data Platform (HDP), Linux clusters running HDInsight can be deployed today.
Azure Mobile Engagement generally available
Pricing | Mobile Engagement webpage
Azure Mobile Engagement is a SaaS-delivered, data-driven user-engagement platform that enables real-time and fine-grain user segmentation, app-user analytics, and context-aware, smart push notifications across all connected devices. You can maximize your app usage, retention, and monetization with this powerful platform. It allows developers, app owners, and line-of-business decision makers to directly contact app users in a personal, context-aware, and nonintrusive way—exactly when it makes the most sense for both parties. Comprehensive analytics go beyond typical key performance indicators (KPIs), highlighting the data to capture, track, analyze, and act on for improving engagement precisely when customers need your products or services.
Azure File Storage generally available
Pricing | File Storage webpage
Azure File Storage is based on industry-standard SMB 3.0, and is a highly-available and geo-replicated managed file share offering on Azure at very low cost. Customers can now lift and shift existing file share and corresponding applications to Azure with zero code change and lower overall file sharing cost compared to running it on-premises. Customers can also use Azure File Storage to share server data (such as log files and event data) on it that can be accessed from both on-premises and cloud. Finally, developers can use rich RESTful APIs inside their modern applications to access file data and management layer. For more information, please visit the How to use Azure File Storage with Windows documentation webpage.
Visual Studio Online Build and Deployment generally available
Visual Studio Online pricing
With the general availability of the new Visual Studio Online Build and Deployment service, all Visual Studio Online accounts will receive 4 hours of free hosted build time per month. Build and Deployment is a task-based service that lets you author, queue, and monitor cross-platform builds on hosted or private build agents. That means you can build for any language, on any platform, and manage multiple builds at once to get more throughput. For more information, please visit the Build and Deployment Pricing Announcement webpage.
Live Encoding for Azure Media Services generally available
Pricing | Media Services webpage
Live Encoding for Azure Media Services expands on our industry-proven live cloud platform. Live Encoding combines with dynamic packaging, dynamic encryption, subclipping, dynamic manifest manipulation, ad-marker insertion, and near-seamless live/on-demand capabilities to build comprehensive live and cloud DVR workflows. Common use cases include event-based streaming with dynamic ad insertion, as well as streaming with cloud DVR requirements. This technology powered digital coverage of some of the largest events on the planet, including Super Bowl XLIX and the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi. Features include:
•  Live encoding of single-bitrate live feeds into adaptive bitrate streams.
•  Ingesting live feeds over RTP protocol (MPEG transport streams), RTMP, and Smooth Streaming.
•  Controlling insertion of slates and signaling ad insertions to clients.
•  Previewing thumbnails of live feeds.
For more information, please visit the Microsoft Azure Blog.
Azure SQL Database Elastic Database lowered pricing
Pricing | SQL Database webpage
We’ve seen a wide variety of customer app scenarios being deployed in elastic database pools during public preview. Based on customer feedback, we’re restructuring pricing to address these additional scenarios. Starting today, the following changes are in effect:
•  eDTU price—the preview price you pay today for eDTUs will be the price you pay at general availability.
•  Database existence fee—to make elastic database pools more flexible, we’re eliminating the database existence fee.
Elastic database pools provide allocated performance to a pool, and allow you to pay for the collective performance of the pool, rather than single database performance. You don’t need to dial database performance up or down. Elastic databases consume but don’t exceed the limits of the pool, so your cost remains more predictable even if database usage doesn’t.
Microsoft Azure IoT Hub in public preview
Pricing | Azure IoT Hub webpage
To jumpstart your Internet of Things (IoT) projects, Microsoft Azure IoT Hub helps you connect, monitor, and control millions of IoT assets running on a broad set of operating systems and protocols. Establish reliable and secured bidirectional communication with these assets, even if they’re intermittently connected, so you can analyze incoming telemetry data and send commands or notifications as needed. Enhance the security of your IoT solutions by leveraging per-device authentication, as well as revoking access rights to specific devices when you need to maintain the integrity of your system.
Azure Redis Cache Premium tier in public preview
Pricing | Azure Redis Cache webpage
Azure Redis Cache is a distributed, managed cache that helps you build highly scalable and responsive applications by providing super-fast access to your data. The new Premium tier includes all the Standard-tier features and more, such as better performance, bigger workloads, disaster recovery, and enhanced security. Additional features include:
  • Redis persistence allows you to persist data stored in Redis. You can also take snapshots and back up the data, which you can load in case of a failure.
  • Redis Cluster automatically shards data across multiple Redis nodes so you can create workloads of bigger memory sizes (greater than 53 GB) and get better performance.
  • Azure Virtual Network deployment provides enhanced security and isolation for your Azure Redis Cache, as well as subnets, access control policies, and other features to further restrict access.
Note: As part of a special promotion during the Premium-tier public preview, you’ll receive Standard-tier pricing using Standard-tier meters.
Azure DocumentDB now supports Order By and online index updates
Azure DocumentDB now supports Order By and string range queries, making it even easier to store and query JavaScript Object Notation (JSON) data in Azure. You can sort query results using any string, numeric, or Boolean property in your JSON documents. Designed to work with a minimal index storage overhead, Order By can be used to serve low-latency queries against large collections of documents. Additionally, indexing policies can now be modified on existing collections online and in place. These policies control aspects of index management, including index storage overhead, write and query throughput, and query consistency. For more information, please visit the DocumentDB webpage.
New data plans for Azure ExpressRoute
Pricing | ExpressRoute webpage
Effective October 1, 2015, you’ll have two different data plan options for your Azure ExpressRoute service connections. Whether you currently use an Exchange Provider or a Network Service Provider, now you can choose between unlimited or metered data plans based on your usage. The unlimited data plan allows you to transfer an unlimited amount of data for a fixed monthly charge, while the metered plan is available for a small monthly connection fee with pay-as-you-go charges.

Current ExpressRoute customers with circuits created under the previous models (Network Service Provider and Exchange Provider) will be automatically mapped to a new plan when it helps save you money. Some customers will save more by continuing with their current model for a longer period of time, in which case they’ll be mapped to a new plan at a later date.

New generation of D-Series instances for VMs and Azure Cloud Services
Pricing: Virtual Machines and Cloud Services | Webpages: Virtual Machines and Cloud Services
We’re announcing a new generation of D-Series instances that can be used as VMs or Azure Cloud Services. These DV2 instances carry the same CPU, memory, and disk configurations as the current D-Series, but they also offer more powerful CPUs and run about 35 percent faster. Both D-Series and DV2 instances are ideal for applications that demand fast CPUs, better local disk performance, or larger memories, offering a powerful combination for many enterprise-grade applications. Starting October 2, 2015, the DV2 instances will be available in the Central US, North Central US, West US, and East US 2 regions.

Price reductions on A8 to A11 instances
Pricing | Virtual Machines webpage
As part of our commitment to help you save costs, we’re reducing prices on A8, A9, A10, and A11 instances by as much as 60 percent. These instances carry powerful Intel Xeon E5 processors and are suitable for workloads like high-performance clusters, modeling and simulations, video encoding, and other compute- or network-intensive scenarios. The new prices will be effective as of October 1, 2015.

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