Cloud News

15 Big Azure Announcements Made At Microsoft Build 2021

Donna Goodison

‘It is our mission to empower this next generation of developers with world-class tools and cloud services that allow them to build the applications of the future,’ says Gabe Monroy, vice president of Microsoft Azure developer experience.

Azure AI Updates

Microsoft made several updates to its Azure AI services to help developers more quickly modernize common business processes.

Azure Bot Service, which provides an integrated environment purpose-built for bot development, now includes a visual authoring canvas with extensible open-source tools so developers can add speech and telephony capabilities and for testing, debugging and publishing bots to multiple channels with minimal code changes.

Azure Metrics Advisor is now generally available after going into preview in September. The time-series monitoring platform provides a set of APIs for data ingestion, anomaly detection and diagnostic insights without requiring machine learning (ML) knowledge. Azure Metrics Advisor grew out of developers’ work for Microsoft’s Bing search engine to detect deviations from normal operations, such as spikes in queries from one country or a sudden drop in advertising revenue.

Azure Video Analyzer, which brings Live Video Analytics and Video Indexer into a single service, is now in preview to help developers quickly build AI-powered video analytics from stored and streaming videos. Live Video Analytics allows developers to build intelligent, video-based apps using their choice of AI, while Video Indexer automatically extracts advanced metadata from video and audio content. Azure Video Analyzer use cases include workplace safety, in-store experiences, digital asset management and content monetization.

Microsoft Azure has grouped all of these services, as well as Azure Cognitive Search, Azure Form Recognizer and Azure Immersive Reader, into a new Azure AI category that it’s calling Azure Applied AI Services. The services build on the cognitive APIs from Azure Cognitive Services and Azure ML, accelerating development of AI solutions by providing additional task-specific AI and built-in business logic, according to Microsoft.

Customers routinely tell the cloud provider that while they see AI’s potential, building solutions with it are harder than anticipated, Eric Boyd, corporate vice president of Microsoft Azure AI, said in a blog post.

“The goal with Azure Applied AI Services is to provide a bit more packaging and structure to really accelerate the development of AI solutions for common business processes,” Boyd said. “We see this category of ‘How do you package and combine and simplify these things?’ really speaking to people understanding that there’s tremendous power in what AI can do and saying, ‘I need to bring that to all areas of my business.’”