Azure Weekly

Azure Weekly Issue 256: 5th January 2020

Happy New Year to everyone, and welcome to the first edition of Azure Weekly in 2020! I'm still slightly shocked that this year will mark the 6th anniversary of this newsletter, and also endjin's 10th birthday. Time flies when you're having fun!

2019 felt, on the whole, like a stabilising year in the Azure ecosystem; there were a few big game changing announcements (Synapse being the big one IMHO), but mainly it felt like services were being refined & matured, SDK's expanded with idiomatic support for multiple popular languages, better Azure AD support was rolled out across many core services, and lots of developer productivity improvements were made. It was also the start of the third wave; a container-based reboot of Azure where services can be run in the cloud, on prem, on "the edge" (i.e. IoT devices), on local development machines or other cloud platforms. This is, of course, a quite complex strategy, and Azure Arc is a management wrapper around this approach.

There is no doubt that containers are going to play a significant part in the future, but I'm really hoping that they just become an implementation detail and enable higher level PaaS & Serverless models, rather than becoming the new IaaS; no-one wants to manage K8 clusters; modern organisations need more derive more value rather than perpetuating old models with new tech.

.NET Core 3.x is another landmark from 2019; this one felt like it was coming for ages; a mature & stable cross-platform release with many performance and productivity optimisations, and the final milestone before the one true unified, game changing .NET 5.x. I had the privilidge of being a tech reviewer for Ian GriffithsProgramming C# 8.0 Book for O'Reilly and we put some of the new zero allocation memory features to good use in the platform we delivered for OceanMind; we replaced a OSS IoT protocol decoder with a custom build C# Span<T> version - message processing went from several thousand to several million per second, which allowed us to migrate this compute from an always-on cluster into an Azure Function, saving tens of thousands of pounds per month in compute costs. .NET Core 3.x + Azure is an incredibly powerful combination. .NET Core deserves more love than it gets.

I'm personally very excited by Dapr, which feels like a distillation of the best ideas from Service Fabric (a very underrated and underappreciated stack), and Azure Functions, integrated with the OSS technologies that have gained traction (containers, gRPC etc), to deliver polyglot microservices. Again, this will really come into its own if it is offered via a serverless model on Azure. The last thing we did before the festive break was get Dapr running on a 4 node Raspberry Pi cluster, and it worked like a charm. Along with Dapr, The Open Application Model (OAM), Cloud Native Application Bundles (CNAB) and Porter are technologies worth keeping an eye on - more on these last two in the upcoming weeks.

Also in 2019, we span out all the Power BI content into a new Power BI Weekly newsletter, curated by Ed Freeman (who also happened to win "Cloud Apprentice of the Year" at the National Computing Awards), and we decided to publish the newsletter content to their own websites: & so people could subscribe via RSS as an alternative to a weekly email.

This issue is a festive bumper edition this week, so allocate a little more time to digest the backlog from our break.

Not many announcments since the last newsletter. There's now Better performance with bursting enhancement on Azure Disks, there are some New enhancements for Azure IoT Edge automatic deployments, and some New features in Azure Monitor Metrics Explorer based on your feedback.

In the last newsletter, we highlighted a number of submissions for the Azure Advent Calendar. In case you missed it, Carmel wrote/presented a wonderful piece on Building a secure data solution using Azure Data Lake Store Gen2 - do check it out. Elsewhere, towards the end of December, Ari Bornstein described Getting Started With AzureML Notebook VMs and Michael Coutanche wrote about the The power of Azure Lighthouse.

AI + Machine Learning

Covering: Anomaly detector, Azure Bot Service, Azure Machine Learning, Azure Open Datasets, Bing APIs, Cognitive Services, Computer Vision, Content moderator, Custom vision, Data Science Virtual Machines, Face, Form Recogniser, Immersive Reader, Ink Recogniser, Language Understanding (LUIS), Machine Learning Studio, Microsoft Genomics, ML.NET, Personaliser, Project Cortex, QnA Maker, Speaker Recognition, Speech-to-Text, Speech translation, Text Analytics, Text to Speech , Translator Speech, Translator Text


Covering: Apache Spark for HDInsight, Apache Storm for HDInsight, Azure Analysis Services, Azure Data Explorer, Azure Data Share, Azure Databricks, Azure Stream Analytics, Azure Synapse Analytics, Data Catalog, Data Factory, Data Lake Analytics, Event Hubs, HDInsight, .NET for Apache Spark, R Server for HDInsight


Covering: Azure Blockchain Service, Azure Blockchain Tokens, Azure Blockchain Workbench


Covering: Azure CycleCloud, Azure Dedicated Host, Azure Functions, Azure VMware Solution by CloudSimple, Batch, Cloud Services, Linux Virtual Machines, SAP HANA on Azure Large Instances, Service Fabric, Virtual Machines, Virtual Machine Scale Sets


Covering: Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS), Azure Red Hat OpenShift, CNAB, CNCF, Container Instances, Container Registry, Porter, WSL, Web App for Containers


Covering: Azure Cosmos DB, Azure Database for MariaDB, Azure Database for MySQL, Azure Database for PostgreSQL, Azure SQL Database, Azure SQL Database Edge, Azure Cache for Redis, SQL Data Warehouse, SQL Server on virtual machines, SQL Server Stretch Database, Table storage

Developer Tools

Covering: App Configuration, Azure Lab Services, CLIs, Developer tool integrations, SDKs, Visual Studio, Visual Studio Code, Visual Studio Online


Covering: Azure Artifacts, Azure Boards, Azure DevOps, Azure Pipelines, Azure Repos, Azure Test Plans, Azure DevTest Labs, DevOps tool integrations


Covering: Azure Arc, Azure Stack


Covering: Azure Active Directory (AD), Azure Active Directory B2C, Azure Active Directory Domain Services


Covering: Azure API for FHIR, Event Grid, Logic Apps, Service Bus

Internet of Things

Covering: Azure Digital Twins, Azure IoT Central, Azure IoT Edge, Azure IoT Hub, Azure IoT solution accelerators, Azure Maps, Azure Sphere, Azure Time Series Insights, IoT DevKit, WildernessLabs, Windows 10 IoT Core Services

Management and Governance

Covering: Automation, Azure Advisor, Azure Backup, Azure Blueprints, Azure Lighthouse, Azure Managed Applications, Azure mobile app, Azure Monitor, Azure Policy, Azure Resource Manager, Azure Service Health, Azure Site Recovery, Cloud Shell, Cost Management, Microsoft Azure portal, Sceduler


Covering: Azure Media Player, Content Protection, Encoding, Live and On-Demand Streaming, Media Analytics, Media Services, Video Indexer

Microsoft Azure Stack

Covering: Azure Stack

Mixed Reality

Covering: Kinect DK, Remote rendering, Spatial anchors


Covering: Azure Database Migration Service, Azure Migrate, Data Box


Covering: App Service (Mobile), Mobile apps, Notification Hubs, Visual Studio App Centre, Xamarin


Covering: Application Gateway, Azure Bastion, Azure DNS, Azure ExpressRoute, Azure Firewall, Azure Firewall Manager, Azure Front Door, Azure Internet Analyzer, Azure Private Link, Content Delivery Network, Load Balancer, Network Watcher, Traffic Manager, Virtual Network, Virtual WAN, VPN Gateway, Web Application Firewall


Covering: Archive Storage, Avere vFXT for Azure, Azure Data Lake Store, Azure FXT Edge Filer, Azure HPC Cache, Azure NetApp Files, Blob Storage, Disk Storage, File Storage, Managed Disks, Queue Storage, Storage Accounts, Storage Explorer, StorSimple


Covering: API apps, API Management, App Service (Web), Azure Cognitive Search, Azure SignalR Service, Azure Spring Cloud, Web apps

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