SQL Server Analysis Services Finally Coming to the Cloud!

Microsoft has announced a new cloud service in preview – SQL Server Analysis Services.  This has been a glaring gap in the cloud stack for years and while you could deploy databases through Azure SQL and/or Azure Data Warehouse, you could not deploy SSAS cubes.  If you wanted to deploy cubes to the cloud, the only approach supported was to spin up a SQL Server as IAAS and pay the full on premise licenses to run it.

The new SSAS service supports data sources from both cloud and on premise including SQL Server, Oracle, SharePoint and HD Insight.

Data sources

The new SQL Server Analysis Services only supports tabular models – multi-dimensional cubes are not supported currently.  Pricing also has not been provided yet.

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Microsoft Introduces Location Based Conditional Access for Office 365

Office 365 has always had a concept of access controls based on users and groups.  Microsoft has now taken the concept much further to restrict access not just based on identity but also device profile and location.

Using a set of policies in Office 365 that control access to SharePoint and OneDrive documents, Administrators will be able to restrict access to documents based on IP address or network location.  For example, this would allow administrators to restrict sensitive documents from access outside of the corporate network.

Enhanced conditional access controls encryption controls and site classification in SharePoint and OneDrive 2

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Grammar Checking and Spelling Goes Cloud in Word 2016

Microsoft has released a new service called “Editor” which provides the equivalent of the grammar and spell check in previous versions of Word.  Editor provides these tools now as a cloud based service that uses more advanced analytics and human experts to identify issues.

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The key advantage over the traditional spell check or grammar check features in Word is the Editor service will improve over time as it reads through and digests millions of supplied text samples and the rules and suggestions are augmented based on feedback from experts and users. 

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Microsoft Revamps Office 365 Video Portal with new Microsoft Stream

Microsoft has revamped its Office 365 Video Portal, transitioning it to a new Azure based video services called Microsoft Stream.  In a similar way to how Microsoft has moved Power BI into its own service, Microsoft Stream represents an independent video service that can be used in conjunction with Office 365 or independently as an pure streaming service.

Getting started

The Office 365 Video Portal was baked into the Office 365 subscription plan – it’s not clear how the new Microsoft Stream will be priced either in conjunction with an existing Office 365 subscription plan or independent of such a plan. 

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Microsoft buys LinkedIn for $26 Billion

Microsoft has just announced that they are buying LinkedIn for $26.2 Billion.  Jeff Weiner will remain as CEO, reporting to Satya Nadella.

Why is LinkedIn attractive to Microsoft – it has 400+ million professionals as members worldwide, the perfect audience for marketing Office 365, Dynamics, and Azure.

“The LinkedIn team has grown a fantastic business centered on connecting the world’s professionals,” Nadella said. “Together we can accelerate the growth of LinkedIn, as well as Microsoft Office 365 and Dynamics as we seek to empower every person and organization on the planet.”


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Microsoft Canadian Data Centers Now Officially Open for Azure and Office 365

Microsoft has officially launched Canadian data centers in Toronto and and Quebec City.  Azure and Office 365 are now available wit Dynamics CRM expected in September 2016.

Express Route will also be available in Canada with Bell being the first partner provider. 

When you’re in the Azure Portal, you can now see Canada Central and Canada East as new regions.


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New SharePoint Mobile App!

Microsoft has announced a new native mobile app for SharePoint.  With support for Windows, IOS and Android, users will be able to access sites, documents, links and people through a simplified mobile user experience.

SharePoint the mobile and intelligent intranet 1

The SharePoint mobile app comes first to iOS, followed by versions for Windows and Android in the second half of 2016. And a planned, future update to the app will bring company news and announcements to your device.

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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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Microsoft Opens Its Doors to Machine Learning Startups


Microsoft Ventures Accelerator Seattle is now accepting applications for its Machine Learning Accelerator program which provides a number of free benefits to successful applicants, including:

  • Access to Microsoft facilities
  • Introductions to Microsoft’s customers

  • Connections to industry mentors
  • Access to Microsoft’s Machine Learning engineering team
  • $25K no-strings attached grant
  • $500K Azure credits

About 10 to 15 organizations will be selected in December for the program.  More details can be found here.

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Microsoft Unveils Internet of Things Suite

Microsoft this week announced a number of new details about the Internet of Things Suite.  Leveraging and bundling some existing Azure services such as Streaming Analytics, Storage, Power BI, and Azure ML, Microsoft IoT Suite combines these into some specific scenarios for managing devices and sensors through the cloud. 


The IoT Suite bundles these services into a comprehensive IoT architecture for managing millions of messages coming from devices and sensors in the field.

IoT solution architecture

In addition, the new IoT hub provides certified connections to popular hardware partners such as Intel, Rasberry PI, Freescale, Texas Instruments, etc. who are building hardware sensors.  These partners have certified that their devices can send data through to Azure.


The preconfigured solutions are a way for businesses to connect the myriad of Azure cloud services into specific scenarios for solving common problems.  The current list of specific scenarios are:

Remote Monitoring

Remote Monitoring preconfigured solution architecture

Predictive Maintenance

Anomaly Detection

Expect more of these scenarios to be developed over time as part of the IoT Suite offering.

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