Embedding Power View Dashboards In Your Blog or Public Web Site Now Available

If you have an Office 365 E3 or SharePoint Plan 2 subscription, you can now easily embed Power View visualizations to your blog or public facing web site.

Embedding is easy. Simply start by uploading your workbook to SharePoint, then use the share option to generate a URL. Create an iframe based on the new URL with the parameters action=embedview and wdbipreview=true. You also can customize how your visualizations are displayed to better fit your embedded workbook to your website or blog. See our getting started instructions for more information.

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Note the performance warning…

Please note, as the support for this feature is evolving, heavy traffic might result in viewers of your hosted workbook being throttled. While you should expect support for 1,000 concurrent viewers, you may experience variability with as many as 10,000 concurrent viewers being supported in the best case.

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Live Media Streaming Now Available through Azure Media Services

Microsoft has announced the general availability of Live Media Streaming services through its Azure Media Services platform.  This is the same service used to stream professional broadcast streams such as NBC Sports, the Olympics and the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

Live Streaming

For detailed pricing, check out the updated Media Services pricing page.

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New Premium Storage Available in Azure in Preview

One of the key bottlenecks with running SQL Server in Azure IAAS is I/O.  Standard disks either locally or from Azure blob storage are simply not fast enough.  In our previous performance tests, we found that the I/O on our laptops was faster than what we were experiencing on Azure.  When I ran performance tests, I saw 400% better I/O on my laptop than running in an Azure VM.

Microsoft has now announced a much faster storage specifically targeted for I/O intensive workloads such as SQL called “Premium Storage”. 

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Premium Storage is ideal for I/O-sensitive workloads – and is great for database workloads hosted within Virtual Machines.  You can optionally attach several premium storage disks to a single VM, and support up to 32 TB of disk storage per Virtual Machine and drive more than 50,000 IOPS per VM at less than 1 millisecond latency for read operations. This provides a wickedly fast storage option that enables you to run even more workloads in the cloud.

Pricing for premium storage is based on the storage allocated, not on how much used within the disk.  This is an important consideration when planning out your VMs as you will be charged for the entire volume that is allocated.

The cost comparison between standard and premium is as follows:

Disk Types

P10 P20 P30
Disk Size 128 GB 512 GB 1,024 GB
IOPs per disk 500 2,300 5,000
Throughput per disk 100 MB/sec 150 MB/sec 200 MB/sec
Price per month $ 9.45 $ 35.10 $ 64.79
Comparison with Standard $ 6.76 $ 27.03 $ 54.07

The key thing in terms of pricing is that if you want higher throughput, you also have to commit to using more storage and pay for the allocation up front. 

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Preview Version of New Azure SQL DB Now Available

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Microsoft has just announced a preview version of the latest Azure SQL service with improved performance, built in geo-replication, auditing, and elastic scale.

The availability of a new preview, which was previously announced in November, introduces near-complete SQL Server engine compatibility and more Premium performance, representing the next-generation of the SQL Database service. Internal tests on over 600 million rows of data show Premium query performance improvements of around 5x in the new preview relative to today’s Premium SQL Database and up to 100x when applying the In-memory columnstore technology. The features in today’s preview mark the first step toward delivering exciting new capabilities for customers on this new service architecture.

You can find more details on the improvements and sign up for the preview here.

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Are Public Facing Websites being Dropped from Office 365?

Every Office 365 subscriber gets a limited public facing web site that can be used to host their company web site.  While we have developed public facing web sites on SharePoint on premise for years, the Office 365 public facing web site was always quite limited in features and support (See this article on some of the specific limitations of public facing web sites on Office 365).

There are currently rumors circulating that Microsoft is planning to drop support for public facing web sites from Office 365 altogether.  See the following comments:

http://community.office365.com/en-us/f/154/t/264858.aspx

http://www.zdnet.com/article/microsoft-users-not-happy-over-quiet-sharepoint-online-feature-cuts/

http://365.webbrewers.com/blog/Lists/Posts/Post.aspx?ID=64

Each of these blog posts provide feedback that Microsoft may be shutting down its public facing web site service as part of Office 365.  No official word yet has been announced from Microsoft.

Microsoft has also been promoting its WordPress on Azure platform substantially including an article talking about how they host their own blog platform on WordPress.  See this article on how using WordPress is an “awesome” choice for Microsoft that saves them 75% of their hosting costs.

This blog runs on WordPress hosted in Azure – it has been a very good platform from an uptime and pricing perspective.  It provides a scalable public facing web site platform for as little as $10 a month that can easily scale up as traffic increases. 

Stay tuned for the upcoming roadmaps from Office 365 and the upcoming next version of SharePoint on premise to see whether Microsoft still promotes SharePoint as a public facing web site platform. 

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