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Microsoft Ignite 2019 sparks more Azure features, new and updated products

Microsoft Ignite 2019 sparks more Azure features, new and updated products

Azure Synapse Analytics, Azure Arc, Azure Stack Edge and more

Credit: ID 141271826 © Topdeq |

The Microsoft Ignite conference for 2019 has revealed a number of new and updated products, including new functionality for Azure.

With Microsoft Ignite 2019 underway, a number of new and updated products have been revealed during the keynote speech by CEO Satya Nadella.

Microsoft Azure

On the Azure front, Microsoft announced Azure Synapse Analytics and a preview of Azure Arc.

According to Rohan Kumar, corporate vice president at Azure Data, Azure Synapse Analytics combines the capabilities of Azure SQL Data Warehouse with added enhancements such as Big Data analytics to allow users to query data using either serverless on-demand or provisioned resources at scale.

Kumar also claimed Azure Synapse Analytics is the first analytics system to run Transaction Processing Performance Council Benchmark H (TPC-H) queries at a petabyte scale and utilises Power BI, Azure machine learning, a unified workspace for data preparation, management, warehousing and artificial intelligence (AI) tasks, column-level security, native row-level security and dynamic data masking.

“Simply put, Azure Synapse is the next evolution of Azure Structured Query Language (SQL) Data Warehouse. We have taken the same industry-leading data warehouse to a whole new level of performance and capabilities,” Kumar said.

Meanwhile, Microsoft launched a public preview of Azure Arc, which features up-to-date data capabilities, the ability to deploy in seconds and dynamic scalability on any infrastructure, with Azure SQL Database and Azure Database for PostgreSQL Hyperscale and is able to be deployed on any Kubernetes cluster.

Through Azure Arc, users can manage different environments through Azure Resource Manager, Microsoft Azure Cloud Shell, Azure portal, an application program interface (API) and Microsoft Azure policy, according to Julia White, corporate vice president of Microsoft Azure.

Additionally, developers can develop applications and IT teams can use GitOps-based configuration management to deploy, configure and manage those applications. Cloud security can also be deployed across environments that feature centralised role-based access control and security policies.

In the same announcement post as Azure Arc, White also revealed the rebrand of Azure Data Box Edge to Azure Stack Edge, a managed AI-enabled edge appliance that the corporate vice president said would introduce “compute, storage and intelligence to any edge.”

Updated features for the Azure Stack Edge include virtual machine support, a graphics processing unit-based form factor, high availability with multiple nodes and multi-access edge compute, White said.

In addition, a rugged series of Azure Stack Edge form-factors was also introduced with the intention of providing cloud capabilities in the “harshest environment conditions” like tactical edge, humanitarian and emergency response efforts.

Microsoft Power Automate

Following the Azure announcements was the rebrand of Microsoft Flow to Microsoft Power Automate and the addition of robotic process automation capability to automate manual tasks through the recording and play-back of human inputs for software that does not support API automation.

Other Microsoft Power Automate additions include Microsoft Power Virtual Agents for the creation and deployment of intelligent AI-powered virtual agents, more security enhancements for Microsoft Power BI, more integration between Microsoft Power Platform and Microsoft Teams and an additional set of pre-built models for AI Builder.

Microsoft 365

Updated functionality to Microsoft 365 was also announced, including Project Cortex, which builds upon SharePoint and uses AI to create a knowledge network to automatically organise data, deliver relevant information to people within an organisation, machine learning and knowledge retrieval to access information in documents, conversations meetings and videos.

Other updated Microsoft 365 functionality includes Outlook for iOS' Play My Emails to give virtual assistant Cortana the ability read back emails and sharing schedule changes; Microsoft Stream with automatic transcription, enhancing spoken voices and video sharing to mobile devices, a button to move conversations from Outlook into Teams and; updates to Microsoft Edge and Microsoft Bing to combine internet and intranets, privacy protection and the ability to move research into Microsoft Office applications.

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