Achieve agility with Azure Data in a changing world

We live in demanding times, and change is happening faster than ever before. Data has always provided important insights into changing contexts, but to navigate the rapidly evolving landscape, adding layers of intelligence where AI advances decision making and applies predictive analytics at the edge to unlock new possibilities is pivotal.

At Microsoft Ignite, we shared a number of announcements to help organizations rebuild in a changing world. Following the announcement of Azure Arc in November 2019, we are announcing the preview launch of Azure Arc enabled data services. With this preview, customers can now bring Azure data services to any infrastructure across data centers, edge, or any cloud using Kubernetes on their hardware of choice. Data services now in preview include SQL Managed Instance and PostgreSQL Hyperscale. Data sources are often spread across diverse infrastructures which lead to challenges with data sovereignty, latency, and regulatory compliance. Customers can now benefit from Azure innovations such as always current evergreen SQL, elastic scale, and a unified management experience—while being able to run on any infrastructure.

We also announced the general availability of Azure SQL Edge, which brings the most secure SQL engine to IoT gateways and edge devices. Azure SQL Edge supports predictive intelligence with AI right where the action happens, with built-in data streaming and storage, packed into a small-footprint container—less than 500 megabytes—running in ARM and x64-based devices in connected, disconnected, or semi-connected environments. All with the same industry-leading security, the same familiar developer experience, and the same tooling that customers already know and trust in SQL Server and Azure SQL.

Fugro, a leading global geo-data specialist, helps clients in the energy and infrastructure sectors gain vital insights using Azure IoT Edge and Azure SQL Edge to boost efficiency and speed innovation. Reports that once took two weeks to compile now take eight minutes.

“We use this geo-data to ensure that anything we build or operate on this rapidly changing planet is done in a safe and sustainable way.” – Pim Peereboom, Global Project Manager of Integrated Marine Management at Fugro

Azure SQL announcements at Microsoft Ignite

Microsoft continues to invest in our Azure SQL family of SQL cloud databases including SQL Server on Azure Virtual Machines, Azure SQL Managed Instance, and Azure SQL Databases. We announced several new capabilities in SQL Managed Instance that make for more seamless migration and app modernization in Azure—including upcoming support for distributed transactions between multiple SQL Managed Instances and a preview of Azure Machine Learning Services for R and Python analytics. With general availability of global VNet peering, it’s now easy to connect virtual networks in different regions in an easy and performant way for enhanced business continuity and disaster recovery options. Sign up to learn more at our Azure SQL virtual event, Transform Your Applications with Azure SQL.

We also made announcements that continue to deliver on our commitment to provide the best developer experience of any cloud. Azure Cosmos DB serverless, now in preview, offers consumption-based pricing with no minimums making it a cost-effective way to get started with the service or run small applications with light traffic.

Flexible Server, a new deployment option now in preview for Azure Database for PostgreSQL and Azure Database for MySQL, offers developers enhanced choice with greater performance and manageability by building on a new architecture with native Linux integration. Developers can also benefit from a guided experience that simplifies end-to-end deployment and reduces costs with stop and start capabilities.

Azure Synapse, Azure Cosmos DB, and Azure Cache for Redis

Azure Cache for Redis now has two new product tiers in preview: Enterprise and Enterprise Flash. These tiers, developed in partnership with Redis Labs, integrate features from their Redis Enterprise offering for the first time on a major cloud platform making caches larger, more reliable, and provide new deployment options to unlock new use cases such as data analytics.

When it comes to analytics, Azure is simply unmatched with tighter, more meaningful integrations among services than ever before. For Marks & Spencer (M&S) a leading British retailer, the integration means a significant upgrade to their data platform with the capability of Azure Synapse to process large volumes of unstructured data at once. The solution pulls data stored from on-premises Cloudera HDFS clusters into Azure Data Lake Storage. Marks & Spencer also uses Azure Databricks for transformation, so data scientists can push that data into Synapse directly to run visualizations and create dashboards. 

“You might have a requirement where you need a fast response time. Or you might want something that’s lower cost and scalable to the type of data you have. With Azure, you can choose between different technologies to form a whole solution,” – Aaronpal Dhanda, Head of Data Technology, M&S Digital and Data

We are excited to see the ability to deliver near real-time analytics over operational data become a reality with Azure Synapse Link for Azure Cosmos DB. With a single click, you can now analyze large volumes of operational data in Azure Cosmos DB in near real-time with no extraction, transformation, and loading (ETL) pipelines, and no performance impact on transactional workloads.

As we look beyond the horizon, the opportunity to reinvent your business and achieve agility with your data is substantial. Your data has so much potential. We look forward to seeing what you can do with it.

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