WPC 2014 Rides Wave of Azure Growth

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By nearly all accounts, the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) ended up  a success for the promotion of Azure. At least, that’s what the data suggest. At the conference held in Washington, DC last month, Microsoft reported 57% of Fortune 500 companies use Azure in some capacity while also reporting Azure currently hosts more than one million SQL Databases. The company also noted Azure now holds 30 trillion storage objects. Josh Waldo, Microsoft Sr. Director, Cloud Partner Strategy, blogged afterward that WPC 2014 succeeded in helping attendees grapple with three big issues: “I want to build a more profitable business; I want to hear from other Partners, not just Microsoft; I want to know where the industry is going so I can be prepared.” WPC 2015 is set to take place in Orlando, FL, July 12-16.

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In other news, Microsoft unveiled Azure Machine Learning in preview. Azure Machine Learning is a “fully-managed cloud service for predictive analytics” and, according to Microsoft, brings the power of data mining and predictive analytics to the level of everyday Azure users. Azure’s new offering, described as “mining historical data with computer systems to predict future trends or behavior,” is also supporting R, the well-regarded open-source statistics and data mining programming environment.

Ahead of WPC 2014, as could be expected, Microsoft released a flurry of Azure updates and enhancements, according to Among  the releases, Azure Preview Portal has been given new IaaS functionality and “resource group enhancements.” Microsoft also will release in preview Azure Event Hub, allowing users to “stream millions of events per second from millions of devices into multiple applications and storage systems.” Microsoft also is launching two new data center regions – one in Iowa and one in Virginia – and the company announced a broadening of Azure Government Cloud to include “a new Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online U.S. government cloud offering.”

Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella, announced last month that Microsoft will partner with Packer and OpenNebula, two “popular open source programs for managing cloud resources,” according to CIO magazine. Microsoft “is releasing drivers that will make it easy to use the programs on Azure as well as with Microsoft server software for in-house deployments.” CIO notes this move is part of a larger trend by Microsoft to make open source technology operate well within Azure, including its recent move to enable Docker virtualization technology to integrate easily with Azure.

On the mobile front, Microsoft’s Henrik Frystyk Nielsen, Principal Architect, Azure Mobile Services, announced release of new functionality for Azure Mobile Services .NET. One new feature, according to Nielsen, is support for “CORS using ASP.NET Web API CORS enabling first class support for specifying CORS policy at a per-service, per-controller, or per-action level.” Nielsen also revealed that Microsoft will offer support for Azure Active Directory Authentication “using a server-side flow simplifying client authentication significantly.”

In related news about Active Directory, Microsoft late last month introduced a “second preview release of its Azure Active Directory (AD) Sync Services solution,” according to Redmond Magazine. This second release aims to solve three issues raised by customers in the wake of the first preview: a new checkbox for selective synchronization; the “ability to reset Active Directory passwords within multiple forests”; and provision for “exchange hybrid deployment in multiforest environments.”

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