The 15 Biggest Azure Announcements At Microsoft Build 2022

Azure OpenAI Service, AI dashboards in Azure Machine Learning and a web application routing add-in for Azure Kubernetes Service are among the new offerings in preview from Microsoft.

New previews for Azure OpenAI Service, AI dashboards in Azure Machine Learning and a web application routing add-in for Azure Kubernetes Service were among the biggest Azure announcements from Microsoft during this year’s Build conference aimed at developers.

Along with the previews, Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft announced new generally available features for its cloud service, including Microsoft Intelligent Data Platform, document and conversation summarization with Azure Cognitive Service for Language and a ledger feature for Azure SQL Database.

Updates expected later this year include general availability for GitHub Copilot, general availability for Azure Spring Apps Enterprise, Dynatrace for Azure and Purview Data Estate Insights.

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Microsoft held its Build conference online this week as the world continues to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella touted the company’s Azure OpenAI service during the company’s latest quarterly earnings call in April, describing how the service helps “companies like CarMax turn customer reviews into customized content for shoppers.”

He said that Azure Machine Learning’s “number of monthly inference requests increased 86 percent year over year with companies like PepsiCo using the service to predict which products are most likely to sell.”

In January, Nadella said that Azure Cognitive Services saw more than 30 million hours of speech transcribed last quarter, about doubled the amount year over year.

Here are some of Microsoft’s biggest announcements this week during Build.

Azure OpenAI Service Moves To Preview

Microsoft has moved its Azure OpenAI Service to preview mode, the tech giant announced during Build 2022.

Azure OpenAI Service provides reasoning and comprehension capabilities for building apps around writing assistance, code generation and analyzing unstructured data, according to Microsoft.

The service gives approved customers access to different models from OpenAI, including Ada, Babbage, Curie and DaVinci – the GPT-3 base series. Approved customers also receive access to Codex series, embedding models and Azure’s enterprise capabilities.

Azure OpenAI Service can also filter out sexual, violent, hateful and otherwise inappropriate content , with additional filters and customization features on the way, according to Microsoft. Incident response teams are also available to update content filters as language evolves, such as the development of new racial slurs.

Upgrades For Azure Cognitive Services For Language

Microsoft’s Azure Cognitive Service for Language received a new generally available capability for summarizing documents and conversations.

Azure Cognitive Service for Language can help developers surface key information in documents and contact center calls to speed up resolution, according to Microsoft.

Other updates to Azure Cognitive Service for Language include custom-named entity recognition for identifying domain-specific terms and a custom text classification capability for organizing and categorizing text with domain-specific labels such as support tickets and invoices.

Azure Machine Learning Expansion

Azure Machine Learning has a preview available for an artificial intelligence dashboard for data scientists and developers to more easily implement responsible AI, according to Microsoft.

The dashboard has features for data exploration, fairness, model interpretability, error analysis, counterfactual inference analysis, causal inference analysis and other areas that help developers debug models and make data-driven decisions, according to Microsoft.

Azure Machine Learnings also gained a responsible AI scorecard aimed at users of varying technical ability with the purpose of measuring model performance, insights and effects when applied.

Now generally available are Azure Machine Learning managed endpoints for deploying large-scale machine learning models for real-time and batch inference and the new version of the command line interface.

Azure Machine Learning also has new AutoML features in preview, including natural language processing support, image tasks support and the ability to generate models’ training codes. A preview of Python SDK v2 in Azure Machine Learning is available.

New Applied AI Previews

Microsoft announced new capabilities in preview for some of its applied artificial intelligence tools.

Azure Form Recognizer has new document processing scenarios and layout capabilities for paragraphs, headers and titles to improve text extraction, according to Microsoft.

Microsoft announced a preview for a new authoring canvas, rich responses, event-driven triggers, contextual triggers, new telephony channels and other Azure Bot Service Composer capabilities in Power Virtual Agents.

And Azure Metrics Advisor has a preview for an auto-tuning capability to provide detection preferences and evaluate configuration effectiveness, among other actions.

Azure App Service Updates

Microsoft has a preview for Google Remote Procedure Call (gRPC) support on Azure App Service, which allows developers to build enterprise-ready web and mobile apps for any platform or device.

The tech giant will release a preview in the coming weeks for Azure App Service bulk migration capabilities to categorize which applications are ready for migration, suggest an app for migration and provide guided content and configuration experiences for ASP.NET web apps to Azure App Service.

Microsoft Intelligent Data Platform Available

The Microsoft Intelligent Data Platform is now generally available.

The platform brings together databases, analytics and governance to add layers of intelligence to applications, gain predictive insights and govern data anywhere.

The platform aims to overcome market fragmentation and other customer pain points, according to Microsoft.

One user of the platform so far is KPMG, which uses Intelligent Data Platform integrations to power KPMG Digital Gateway for regulatory changes, streamlining compliance and planning and collaboration across tax, legal and finance departments, according to Microsoft.

New Azure Cosmos DB Previews

Microsoft has new previews for Azure Cosmos DB, including increased serverless capacity to 1TB, shared throughput across database partitions and support for hierarchical partition keys.

Azure Cosmos DB has a 30-day free trial experience and support for MongoDB data in the Azure Cosmos DB Linux desktop emulator, according to Microsoft.

Azure SQL Database Previews

Microsoft has new features in preview for Azure SQL Database.

Updated input and output bindings in Azure Functions allow users to connect to SQL Database with Python and JavaScript, according to Microsoft.

A local development environment gives containerized, full-fidelity Azure SQL databases with extensions for Visual Studio Code and Azure Data Studio.

Updates allow users to validate JSON documents or convert SQL data to JSON with new JSON constructors and ISJSON enhancements.

Now generally available for Azure SQL Database is a ledger feature for cryptographic verification for centralized data stores.

Azure Database For MySQL Changes

Microsoft has renamed its Azure Database for MySQL Flexible Server Memory Optimized service tier to Business Critical service tier, promising 1.5 times faster performance than single server deployment for Azure Database for MySQL.

With this, the company has also made generally available a new 80-core business critical compute instance and an ability to redirect reporting and analytical queries to secondary, read-only replicas.

Microsoft Purview Updates

Microsoft has a preview available for Purview Data Policy for SQL DevOps roles, which gives data owners the ability to manage data entitlements from Purview.

Other previews for Purview include native classification, labeling and protection capabilities for Adobe Acrobat and Microsoft Graph APIs for data lifecycle management.

In July, the company will make Purview Data Estate Insights generally available, giving chief data officers an overall summary of the data estate’s health and governance program’s adoption.

Expanded Azure Partnerships

Microsoft announced during Build that it teamed up with F5 for a preview of NGINX for Azure.

The natively integrated software-as-a-service gives developers advanced traffic management features including JSON web token (JWT) authentication, active health checks and Azure Key Vault for SSL/TLS certificate management.

In June, Microsoft and Dynatrace will release a preview of Dynatrace for Azure, a software-as-a-service for cloud observability to resolve issues for mission-critical applications, according to Microsoft.

Azure Migration And Modernization Updates

This week, Microsoft introduced new features in preview for Azure migration and modernization.

In preview is the ability to pause and resume migration functions and Azure SQL assessments with recommendations for SQL Server on Azure virtual machines and support for Hyper-V virtual machines and physical stacks.

Generally available is agentless discovery and grouping of dependent Hyper-V VMs and physical servers during an Azure move, according to Microsoft.

Tools For Developers

Microsoft has promised upcoming services for developers, including Microsoft Dev Box for self-service access to pre-configured, high-performance, cloud-based workstations.

Azure Deployment Environments will help developers spin up application infrastructure with project-based templates, according to Microsoft.

Now generally available is .NET Multi-platform App UI (.NET Maui), a framework for building multi-platform, natively compiled applications for iOS, Android, MacOS and Windows with C# and XAML in a single codebase.

This summer, Microsoft will make generally available GitHub Copilot, an AI pair programmer that provides suggestions inferred from code and comments.

Azure Arc Enhancements

New generally available features for Azure Arc include a landing zone accelerator for Azure Arc-enabled Kubernetes allows for easier deployment, according to Microsoft.

A business-critical service tier for Azure Arc-enabled SQL Managed Instance promises enhanced performance and security for users, according to the tech giant.

In April, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said that hybrid cloud tool Azure Arc saw its customer base triple year over year.

Odds And Ends In Preview

Microsoft now has a preview for Azure Communication Services users to add email notifications to their applications for account sign ups, password resets, service outage alerts, purchase confirmations and other scenarios.

The company launched previews for new Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS) features including draft Azure command line interface, a web application routing add-in and a Kubernetes-based event driven autoscaler (KEDA) add-in, according to Microsoft.

Microsoft introduced a preview for Azure Synapse Link for SQL, giving users near-real-time business intelligence reporting on operational data without affecting the operational store.

And a preview for AIOps-powered Smart Maps promises to improve users’ ability to detect, diagnose and observe applications and infrastructure issues.

Microsoft has previews available for GraphQL Federation and token store for Azure API Management, a hybrid, multi-cloud management platform for application programming interfaces across all environments.

Microsoft has a download of the SQL Server 2022 preview available for users to test new features. SQL Server 2022 integrates with Azure Synapse Link and Microsoft Purview for improved insights, predictions and governance from data at scale. Built-in query intelligence promises automatically enhanced performance and scalability, according to Microsoft.

Generally Available Odds And Ends

Microsoft has made the Azure Container Apps service for microservices and containerized applications on serverless platforms generally available.

Azure Communication Services Mobile UI Library is now generally available, with support for 13 languages and the ability to view shared screen content to help application developers produce user-interface components.

The tech giant renamed its Azure Spring Cloud fully managed service with VMware to Azure Spring Apps, with Azure Spring Apps Enterprise expected to become generally available in June for fully managed VMware Tanzu components running on Azure.

Microsoft made Service Bus Explorer capabilities generally available in the Azure portal, giving developers the ability to specify Service Bus namespace and send messages to a queue or topic in the namespace.

Single-Node Azure Stack HCI now generally available to help with stack deployment in smaller spaces such as retail stores and branch offices. Services can be built to scale from a single node to 16, according to Microsoft.

Now generally available are Azure DCsv3 virtual machines (VMs) and Intel Software Guard Extensions (SGX) to bring large workloads with low trust requirements to the cloud.

Also generally available are Azure Private Link support for incoming gateway traffic for clients running virtual networks, managed certificate support for custom domain sharing and GraphQL passthrough support.