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The challenges of the past year revealed that serving and making a difference for each other, our communities, and the world around us is more critical than ever. In order to persevere and drive business success, organizations must be future-ready, build on their terms, operate hybrid seamlessly, and do all of this with an uncompromising foundation of trust. Microsoft Azure is committed to helping every organization accomplish just that, as outlined by our announcements at this week’s Microsoft Inspire.

Expand opportunities with new Azure infrastructure capabilities

Over 95 percent of Fortune 500 companies are transforming their businesses using Azure, relying on an enterprise-grade infrastructure and deep integration with the rest of the Microsoft Cloud. Azure is designed to power all workloads—providing the best Windows 10 (and now Windows 11) virtual experience for Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI), offering the lowest total cost of ownership for Windows Server and SQL workloads, growing Linux workloads, and open source databases (over half of all Azure VMs are running Linux), and supporting specialized workloads such as SAP, VMware, high-performance computing (HPC), and more.

For Windows Server and SQL Server workloads, customers can take advantage of Azure Hybrid Benefit and—announced today—three years of free Extended Security Updates for Windows Server 2012/R2 and SQL Server 2012 running on Azure.

For all these workloads, cloud migration can be a huge project. We are committed to simplifying the journey, ensuring customers receive tailored support. We’ve expanded our Azure Migration and Modernization Program offering new scenarios that support the modernization of any app, regardless of framework or supporting database, into a broad array of managed services including Azure App Service, Azure Kubernetes Service, and—starting today—Azure Spring Cloud and Azure Cosmos DB. View all the details in our migration and modernization blog.

Bring innovation anywhere with Azure’s hybrid and multicloud approach

Taking a hybrid and multicloud approach resonates with how our customers view their businesses. Azure Arc is key to our approach to helping customers operate hybrid seamlessly. Enabled by Azure Arc, customers can also bring Azure services to any existing infrastructure including other clouds to take advantage of Azure’s benefits anywhere. This includes running managed databases like Azure SQL and Azure PostgreSQL on the infrastructure of your choice, as well as extending machine learning to the edge in order to run models close to where the data lives.

Azure Arc also integrates with Azure Lighthouse so partners can manage multiple customers resources across the edge, datacenters, and multicloud environments. With the general availability of Azure SQL enabled by Azure Arc on July 30, 2021, managed service providers using Azure Lighthouse will be able to manage cloud data services (alongside Windows, Linux, and Kubernetes) on any on-premises infrastructure or in any cloud environment a customer needs without having to change existing tools or processes.

Azure Stack HCI helps customers modernize datacenters with a hybrid solution of hyperconverged infrastructure tightly integrated with Azure. New for Azure Stack HCI, it is now possible to simplify guest licensing activation with Automatic Virtual Machine Activation (AVMA), and with a secured-core server, customers benefit from advanced protection with defense-in-depth protection over multiple layers across hardware, firmware, and operating systems. We also are happy to announce a new partner program to validate ISV software and SI services for the Azure Stack family with promotional activities for the partner solutions. To learn more, contact the Azure Stack Partner Program. In addition, the new advanced specializations for partners for Azure Stack HCI and Azure Arc are available for eligible partners to get advanced training and certification.

Innovate with Azure data

Our commitment to developers is to make Azure the best cloud for developing intelligent cloud-native applications that harness the power of data and AI.

We recently announced several updates to Azure Cosmos DB that enhance its performance even further and help empower developers and ISVs to innovate with Azure Cosmos DB. Azure Cosmos DB serverless charges only for resources consumed and is great for applications with spiky traffic patterns. Azure Cosmos DB integrated cache reduces costs by up to 96 percent and boosts performance by up to 300 percent for read-heavy workloads. Always Encrypted for Azure Cosmos DB enables client-side encryption of sensitive data prior to being stored in a database. Azure Cosmos DB role-based access control (RBAC) enables admins to create Azure Active Directory roles with specific database access permissions.

We’ve also enhanced the developer experience on Azure Cosmos DB by introducing a significant expansion to Azure Cosmos DB’s free tier. Application developers will now have more flexibility to innovate at no cost with 1,000 RU/s provisioned throughput and 25 GB storage free monthly.

With these enhancements to Azure Cosmos DB, it’s easier and more cost-effective than ever to build new cloud-native applications on Azure. And when developers pair the globally available serverless Azure Cosmos DB with the highly elastic serverless Azure Functions, they get a unique combination that solves complex orchestration problems and enables mission-critical, even-driven modern applications.

Go limitless with Azure Analytics

Capturing the operational data in a cloud-native application with Azure Cosmos DB is just the beginning. Customers gain near-real-time insights on that data with a single click using Azure Synapse Link for Azure Cosmos DB. This low-cost, cloud-native HTAP implementation enables organizations to bring in-the-moment analytics to their business, with no ETL required and no performance impact on their operational system.

In order to meet our commitment to make analytics in Azure the most performant and secure experience it can be, we have continued to innovate with Azure Synapse Analytics. We recently announced several new capabilities and offers to help accelerate adoption, including Azure Synapse Pathway, which significantly accelerates data warehouse migrations by automating SQL code conversion to Azure Synapse. New Azure Synapse Business Value Assessments help partners drive value conversations with customers considering modernizing their analytics solution. The Azure Synapse migration offer boosts cost savings for customers migrating on-premises data warehouses to Azure Synapse, on top of the existing reserved capacity discounts. And the Azure Synapse limited-time free quantities offer enables customers with qualifying subscription types to take advantage of serverless capabilities and enjoy up to 10 TB of free queries per month, as well as the optimized Apache Spark capabilities for big data workloads with up to 120 free vCore-hours per month.

Discover and govern better than ever with comprehensive data governance

With the exponential growth in the volume, type, source, and interconnectedness of data, the need has never been greater to discover and govern that data across the organization. Azure Purview is a unified data management and governance solution that helps organizations achieve a complete understanding of their data. It helps discover, classify, protect, and govern data wherever it resides: on-premises, across clouds (including support for Amazon Web Services S3), in SaaS applications, and in Microsoft Power BI. Users can easily create a holistic, up-to-date map of their data landscape with automated data discovery, sensitive data classification, and end-to-end data lineage. With Azure Purview, data consumers are empowered to maximize the value and trustworthiness of their organization’s data across the data estate.

Learn more and get started

To learn more, watch the Microsoft Inspire session Innovate from cloud to edge on your terms. You can also discover more about Azure and get started with 12 months of free services by creating your Azure free account today.


Azure. Invent with purpose.

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