Azure Weekly

Your weekly Azure news fix

Azure Weekly is a summary of the week's top news to help you build on the Microsoft Azure Platform.

From AI to Availability Zones, it aims to keep you on top of the latest Azure developments.

Issue 403: 29th January 2023

I've been tinkering with OpenAI for a number of years, but haven't managed to get access to Azure OpenAI yet. There's a good introductory post by Meer Alam which covers Unleashing the power of AI with Azure OpenAI: A simple guide to get started.

Some interesting announcements in the data and analytics space: the Public Preview of a new top-level Change Data Capture resource in ADF (and feels like a feature that should have been there since the start). Two interesting articles about data governance and lineage: End-to-End Data Lineage from Spark Big data Environment and TomPo (Tabular Object Model Power BI) - Lineage of Data Model and Reports.

Finally, two posts about Azure Container Apps. Jon George continues to blog about migrating apps over to the service and discovering and creating workarounds for feature gaps in Correctly configuring ASP.NET Core MVC authentication when hosting in Azure Container Apps, and an interesting post by Rachit Tandon about Custom scaling on Azure Container Apps based on Redis Streams

Issue 402: 22nd January 2023

A relatively quiet week; the first big announcement is the General availability of Azure OpenAI Service expands access to large, advanced AI models with added enterprise benefits. If this isn't an area you've been keeping tabs on, I'd highly recommend taking 15 mins to watch the Microsoft Mechanics Use Natural Language & Prompts with AI Models with Azure OpenAI Service session.

The second big announcement is New storage providers for Azure Durable Functions now generally available. Netherite and MSSQL support have been added.

Two other interesting articles from the community: Use PowerApps for an automation Front-End and a new Visual Studio Code Extension for Managing Azure App Registrations.

Finally, an announcement that was buried within the avalanche of updates in the last issue was Azure's support for the EU Data Boundary, thankfully the Ctrl+Alt+Azure podcast asks What is the EU Data Boundary?

Issue 401: 15th January 2023

It's quite a monster of an edition as is spans the last 4 weeks of content. First off a few articles of interest: a dive into how Windows has been re-engineered to produce "OneCore" which allows multiple SKUs to be built on top of this, including Cloud Host, used to power Azure Host Nodes in the data center: Azure Host OS – Cloud Host. There's a useful guide to Migrating to Isolated Durable Functions, and an announcement that Azure Container Registry is the first cloud registry to support the OCI Specifications 1.1. Jon George finally concludes his 6-part series on migrating an application from Azure Function to Azure Container Apps, provides conclusions and a table of options of recommendations if you face a similar situation.

Obviously one of the big themes for 2023 is going to be the global economic downturn; many organisations are trying to "do more with less", reducing headcount and budgets. One of the biggest challenges facing organisations who have gone "all in on the cloud" is that their IT budget has moved from CapEx to OpEx; meaning that IT costs are now essentially a function of headcount rather than an investment. The downside of this is that traditional "downturn playbooks" of deferring hardware refreshes or pushing out new IT programmes don't really work, so execs are going to have to come up with new approaches. Combine this with the fact that cloud computing is more a function of energy costs than hardware costs to the providers; Microsoft estimates $800 million in extra energy costs. Add this to rising interest rates, and Azure pricing is going to increase: Consistent global pricing for the Microsoft Cloud. In summary: GBP: +9%, DKK, EUR and NOK: +11%, SEK: +15%. Organisations are going to have to work even harder, as their projected cost saving efforts might be wiped out by these price increases.

Fortunately a lot of thought leadership is being produced on this topic; The Azure FinOps Guide is a good place to start. Azure already has tools in place to help you Optimize Azure Cost with Azure Cost Management. There's a great series on Architectural Cost Optimisation – Practical Design Steps for Architects and Developers: Part 1, and Part 2, and Part 3. If you've either tried to improve the density of your compute by migrating applications in Virtual Machines in to Containers in Kubernetes, or have started your cloud adoption journey in a Cloud Native way, you can still reduce the total cost of ownership TCO of your Azure Kubernetes Service AKS cluster and Manage the Cost of Kubernetes. I imagine we'll see a lot more thought leadership in this space in 2023.

Issue 400: 18th December 2022

Welcome to issue 400 of Azure Weekly 🎉 It's quite mind-boggling that we've reached this milestone. When I published the first issue on 2nd Nov 2014, I had no idea it would still be going 8 years and 400 issues later; at a rough calculation that's around 1200 hours (50 days) of effort! This is also going to be the last issue of 2022. I hope you all have a relaxing festive break. See you again in January 2023!

First up, there are a number of announcements around Text To Speech; this service has made some impressive improvements this year. The latest are: Azure Custom Neural Voice introduces new emotional styles to support brand voices, which is now going to be used for the use-case I was investigating (adding audio version of our blogs): Listen to your favorite Microsoft Tech Community Blog articles, powered by Azure Speech Services. I was also impressed by this Mechanics episode - it's worth watching for the demos: Use Natural Language & Prompts with AI Models Azure OpenAIService.

There are a few announcements around Analytics: Azure Synapse Runtime for Apache Spark 3.3 is now in Public Preview, and Security Model in Lake Database within Azure Synapse Analytics. If you use B2C logins, this might be useful: Introducing enhanced company branding for sign-in experiences in Azure AD.

Two other worthwhile reads: Introduction to Comprehensive End-to-End Testing in Azure (first in a series), and Use an Azure Event Grid Custom Topic as a Message Broker, which talks about multi-tenant use cases. IMHO the lack of thought leadership (and features) around multi-tenancy for building SaaS products on Azure is one of the platforms major weaknesses. Finally, there's a Forrester study which finds 228 percent ROI when modernizing applications on Azure PaaS. PaaS has always been our preferred flavour of cloud services. It generally requires more software engineering effort, but the commercial payoff is vast.

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