Web Apps PaaS Service Comes to Azure Stack

Recently, Microsoft released Azure Stack in technical preview, a set of on premise technologies designed to replicate Azure services in an on premise data center. 

Yesterday, Microsoft released its first PaaS services implementation for Azure Stack in early preview – the Web App along with connectors for SQL and MySQL.  Azure Web Apps are awesome fully managed web app containers that provide you with IIS without having to manage the server, patch the virtual machine, etc.  Azure Web Apps also provide easy scale up and down features so that if your load increases you can add more instances dynamically.  This blog runs on Azure Web Apps and the experience has been great to date. 

With moving the Azure Web App to the on premise Azure Stack, developers will be able to deliver web applications that work the same way both on premise and in Azure.  Operations managers will be able to monitor and manage the IIS environment in the same way whether the web app is running on premise or in the cloud. 

It’s not yet clear whether you’ll be able to dynamically push web applications from on premise to the cloud and back again but it’s a good bet.  This is what Microsoft is doing for example with the latest version of SQL Server to allow IT departments to manage their hybrid environments and dynamically allocate applications from one premise to the cloud.  

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Azure IoT Hub Is Now Generally Available

Microsoft Azure IoT Hub is now officially “GA” (Generally Available), meaning it can be used for production workloads and can be purchased as a service. 

Azure IoT Hub is the back-end collection service for devices, sensors or other internet enabled machines that are sending messages to be collected, tracked and reported.   Azure IoT Hub works with industry standard protocols for receiving readings from sensors and provides security to authenticate the devices sending you messages.  Azure IoT Hub is bidirectional so it could be used to send notifications or messages to connected devices as well.

Azure IoT Hub has been designed to scale up to millions of messages per second and millions of devices sending messages simultaneously.

IoT Hub as cloud gateway

When messages are received, there are many different options to leverage them using other Microsoft Azure services.  For example, they could be stored as data to be analyzed by either SQL or Hadoop.  They could be streamed through Azure Streaming Analytics to provide real time monitoring of devices.  They could be gathered and sent to Azure Machine Learning for analysis and prediction.  

Pricing is based on the number of messages (e.g. sensor readings) you need to gather as a “service unit”.  For example, the S1 service unit allows you to send 400,000 messages per day and the S2 service unit allows you to send up to 6 million messages per day.  Each message maxes out at 4K per message.  Each of these “service units” can be scaled up as needed and priced accordingly, e.g. if you needed to send 60 million messages per day you can buy 10 S2 units.

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New SSRS Features in SQL Server 2016 CTP 3.3

Microsoft has just released the latest preview release of SQL Server 2016.  It is available for download here.

There are a few new features in the latest release of the SQL Server Reporting Services web portal that are worth checking out.

Add to Favorites

You can now add reports and dashboards to a favorites list within SQL Server Reporting Services.



Managing Data Sources

In the latest version of the portal, you can create and manage data sources to be used by reports and KPIs.


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Power BI Enterprise Gateway Released

Microsoft has announced the launch of the Power BI Enterprise Gateway from preview to now general availability.   The Enterprise Gateway replaces the Personal Gateway for scenarios where corporate IT departments want to provide centralized integration with their on premise data sources to Power BI. 


The latest version of the gateway supports live query (e.g. not just a scheduled data refresh) against on premise SQL Server, SQL Server Analysis Services cubes and SAP HANA databases. 

There are also some improved governance features such as ability to use security groups to control access to publishing of reports and access to data sources.

The Enterprise Gateway is free and can be downloaded here.

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Yammer Is Now Activated by Default and Integrated into Azure

Yammer is now activated automatically for Office 365 users instead of requiring an extra registration and activation process.  Microsoft hopes this will encourage users to adopt Yammer as a social networking tool. 

Yammer also also now been fully deployed within the Azure data centers globally and therefore is now part of the Office 365 Trust Center – previous Yammer was not included which from a compliance perspective was a challenge from some regulated organizations.

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