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New Features and Interesting News from Microsoft Azure

Microsoft Azure is kicking goals. In their 2020 Annual Report, Microsoft announced that “Today, leaders in every industry—including 95 percent of the Fortune 500—run on Azure.” Not only that, they now have “more datacenter regions than any other provider— now 61.”

While Covid knocked the wind out of many companies’ sails, for technology providers and platforms like Microsoft Azure, it was a chance to rise to the occasion. And rise they did. With more customers onboarded and proof of platform, it’s easy to see why more companies are choosing Azure. (You might want to see our post on AWS vs. Azure for Cloud Migration)

In fact, in Q1 Forrester Wave Report for Function as a Service (FaaS0 providers, Microsoft has been named leaders in the space. What FaaS means is that developers can build microservices in their preferred language while handing off infrastructure management to Azure for scaling and other resource management activities. Microsoft continues to be leaders in spaces just like this.

And are they leaders in actual space, too? Microsoft recently partnered with Hewlett Packard Enterprise in an exciting endeavour to bring Azure to space, with Edge computing and AI from Azure to the International Space Station via the Spacebourne Computer 2. 

But that’s enough of the latest news, let’s get on to some innovative Azure features you might be interested in. Last time we touched on some of the innovations going on over at Microsoft 365 in our blog and the five latest Azure updates for businesses. However 365 is just one piece of the puzzle, Azure has so much more to offer for business. Let’s check out some new features from our favourite major IT service platform player.

A new way of managing sprawling IT assets with Azure Arc

Wish that more of your infrastructure could be managed the same way that you manage your current Azure services? Now it can, with Azure Arc. Azure Arc extends these management capabilities to servers and Kubernetes clusters on-premises, in other clouds, or in the edge. This means you are able for developers to deploy easily across infrastructure, and for operations staff to manage and organise these resources in a centralised manner. This central visibility can be used to meet governance standards, compare costs, manage subscriptions, and more. Gain control of your IT assets with Azure Arc.

Business app management made easy with Private Azure Marketplace

The Azure Marketplace is full of useful apps for businesses, hobbyists, and professionals. However, up until now, there was no quick way to pick which apps on the marketplace could be available for specific users and user groups within an Azure tenancy. That’s where Private Azure Marketplace comes in. It’s an overlay to the main Azure Marketplace that allows businesses to choose which apps from the marketplace are available for employees, allowing purchasing, downloads, and more. The Private Azure Marketplace offers single billing and flexible pricing options, so check it out.

AI and Bing fuelled updates come to Azure Cognitive Search

Why doesn’t my enterprise search act more like a Google search? That’s because it’s not infused with semantic search capabilities. For instance, if you searched your own documents for “How to use the media room facilities,” you might come across plenty of documents with words matching in the sentence, but none matching the intent of the sentence. With Microsoft’s new deep neural networks ranking algorithm in Azure Cognitive Search, you should surface the article that is titled “Steps for setting up the client meeting room and troubleshooting.” Investigate semantic search, answers, and more, plus sign up for the preview.

New ways to budget with forecasted cost alerts

Forget retrospectively making adjustments to your Azure service configurations. Instead, now you can project when and where you are likely to go over cost with Azure Cost Management and Billing forecasting. To do this, you’ll need to open up Cost Management and Billing Azure portal and select Budgets and then Add. Enter the details including the Scope, Name, Reset Period, and the budget amount. You will now be able to choose between both Forecasted and Actual budget alerts here. Create alerts that go to email or notifications and never go over again!

Azure Communication Services and Microsoft Teams for multi-channel client communications

Wish you could have your clients calling or texting through Microsoft Teams instead of the phone, or other aggregator platforms? You can now, all thanks to the help of Azure Communication Services. ACS is bridging the gap between businesses and client communications by providing access inroads to Teams. This includes “by voice, video, text chat, and connections into short message service (SMS) and public switched telephone network (PSTN)—across applications, websites, and mobile platforms.” Now, these types of communications can come across into your internal Teams app.

Azure Firewall Premium in preview release

Firewalls are a critical part of your business setups, and Azure Firewall Premium can make an excellent addition to your security stack. This new release includes new capabilities such as TLS inspection in tandem with Azure Application gateway, a signature-based intrusion detection and prevention system, and web categories filtering for outbound connections, URL filtering for both plaintext and encrypted traffic. Is a premium firewall product enough? Perhaps not. Keep your eye out for the new addition to our blog which will cover Secure Application Gateways and why they’re one of the new essentials for your business security.

A1 Technologies + Azure

We are proud to be Microsoft Azure partners, helping our clients to migrate to Azure stacks, deploy new Azure services, and discover new business innovations made possible by the Azure platform. Our Azure consultants are happy to help you discover the best ways to drive your business forward by the power of Microsoft Azure. And if you’re a Microsoft 365 tenant already? You’ll be amazed at just what Azure can help you do with your business data. Chat to us today to learn more about what’s on offer.

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