Microsoft’s Cloud Investments are Paying Off in Massive Customer Growth

Microsoft’s latest financial results were published for the second fiscal quarter and they show their investments in the cloud are paying off with massive growth numbers for Azure and Office 365.

Microsoft’s cloud business is growing at 140% year over year growth and while they are a clear #2 to Amazon AWS, they are catching up (AWS is only growing at a rate of 69%).  Office 365 revenue grew by 70% and Dynamics CRM Online doubled the number of seats year over year.

Microsoft is now projecting an annualized run rate of $9.4 billion for cloud revenue, up from just last quarter’s projection of $8.2 billion.

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First Technical Preview of Azure Stack Coming Soon

One of the challenges of migrating to Azure is developing applications and services that work with the new cloud model.   For those developing products, they are now faced with two different deployment models – one for on premise using server technologies such as BizTalk, SQL, IIS, etc. and one for Azure that takes advantage of new cloud services.

With Azure Stack, Microsoft is developing a framework that brings the cloud stack including all its APIs, PAAS services, dev ops tools, image templates, cloud storage, etc. to an on premise data center.

Microsoft Azure Stack will meet the business needs of agile development and operations by enabling self-service cloud experiences and APIs, helping IT effectively manage risk and changing demands.   Azure Stack will support both “cloud-native” applications and traditional enterprise-grade applications.  The Microsoft Azure Stack gives application owners the ability to “write once, deploy anywhere”, whether it be to your private cloud, a service provider’s cloud, or the public Azure cloud. Developers will have the broadest access to application development platforms across Windows and Linux to build, deploy, and operate cloud applications using consistent tools, processes and artifacts. One Azure ecosystem across public, private and hosted clouds will allow you to participate in a unified, robust partner network for Azure clouds.  Partners can further extend the ecosystem by providing software, services and tools, as well as hardware, to run on Azure Stack clouds. Private or hybrid cloud deployments will be simplified with a software foundation optimized for converged infrastructure.  

The first technical preview of Azure Stack will be available Friday, January 29th.  You can sign up here to be notified when it is available.

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Real Time Co-Authoring Now Supported in Office 365 If Your Files are Stored in DropBox or BOX

Real time co-authoring allows multiple people to edit a document in Office 365 at the same time. 

Microsoft has supported storing files in DropBox, Box and other cloud storage services and loading them into Office Online directly from these services.   However, real time co-authoring was not supported.

This has now changed and real-time co-authoring support is now provided for DropBox and BOX with other cloud storage partners expected to provide support for it soon.

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New Mobile Report Publisher Available in Latest SQL 2016 Build

As part of the latest build of SQL 2016, Microsoft has integrated the DataZen components they acquired into a new Mobile Report Publisher.   This functionality is available in the latest SQL 2016 Build CTP 3.2 available for download here.

Using the Mobile Report Publisher, you can create mobile reports easily that render well both through web and native mobile user experiences.

The Power BI App will be the single app for SSRS and Power BI based reports.  The support for SSRS mobile reports is now available in the latest build of the IPhone app with Android and Windows expected to follow.

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Power BI Now Supports Embedding External Content Such as YouTube Video

If you create a dashboard in Power BI, you might want to add some static content such as instructions, video help or other content that isn’t data driven.  You can now do this through the “Add a Widget” feature.

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When you click on this button, you are then guided to add images, text, video or external embedded content.

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Power BI Mobile App for IPhone Now Supports Real Time Updates

Microsoft has just released its latest updates to the Power BI service and one of the more interesting features is support for real time updates on your mobile device.

Using the Power BI Mobile App for IPhone, you no longer need to refresh your data – it is pushed to your phone in real time.   Real time updates also update any changes to dashboards such as adding or removing a tile, changing the name of a tile or updating the data.

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SharePoint 2016 Release Candidate Now Available

Microsoft has just announced the availability of SharePoint 2016 Release Candidate.  It is now available for download here.

A release date hasn’t been announced but it is expected to be Q2 2016.  The fact that there is a Release Candidate is a good sign on the progress of the SharePoint team.

Project Server 2016 is also available as a release candidate.

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WordPress on Azure Simplified through Azure Resource Manager Template

As those of you who read this blog regularly know, this web site runs WordPress on Microsoft Azure.  WordPress runs within an Azure Web App and MySQL runs within an Azure VM running MySQL on Linux.  To date, this solution has been rock solid, even running on a A0 shared CPU virtual machine. 

For those wanting to build a more robust enterprise scale WordPress cluster, Microsoft has released a new Azure Resource Manager template that provisions a WordPress Azure Web Application backed by a cluster of MySQL servers through a load balancer. 

WordPress-Azure-Template Microsoft releases Azure template for WordPress/MySQL

The template is available in the Azure Marketplace.

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New Advanced eDiscovery Features for Office 365 E5 Plan

Microsoft acquired a company called Equivio which was a machine learning service for e-Discovery and compliance.  Microsoft is now rolling this new service into their E5 Plan under the label of Advanced eDiscovery.

eDiscovery involves finding files, documents and content related to particular legal matter.  The existing eDiscovery features in Office 365 allow you to define terms for searching for content related to a legal matter and to cordone off these documents so that they are available for a legal proceeding.

The new “Advanced” e-Discovery features provide better searching for these documents and records through the following features:

  • Predictive machine learning matching of documents by taking small collections of documents as a “training set” and tagging them as relevant or non-relevant.  Office365 then uses these training sets to better match future documents.
  • Fuzzy duplicate detection provides the ability to find documents that are similar to other documents.
  • Email threading organizes emails into conversations to make it easier to read through thousands of found emails.
  • Themes allow you to tag content based on different topics.

These new features are only available in the E5 Office 365 plan.

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