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Azure for Partners

Happy Holidays!

Thank you to all of our Azure partners for your commitment to helping Azure deliver best-in-class customer outcomes. Partners truly make more possible! We hope you have a safe and happy holiday season.

Welcome to the December edition of the Azure Partner Newsletter, a roundup of exciting product announcements, feature updates, and new assets available for our partner community, sent to subscribers every other month.

To stay up to date between publications, explore Azure Partner Zone and the Partner Tech Community for the most recent events, resources, news, customer stories, learning material, and more!

To subscribe to the newsletter, head here.

December Spotlight: Microsoft Ignite

This edition of the Azure Partner Pulse is full of top announcements, events, and resources from last month's Microsoft Ignite. Below are our top can't-miss items.

During Microsoft Ignite, we highlighted the latest features and innovations in hybrid, multicloud, and edge computing. From end-to-end data capabilities and cloud-native applications to cross-functional collaboration, Microsoft cloud technologies help our customers deliver solutions and services faster to meet their own customers’ rapidly changing needs:

Bring comprehensive Azure capabilities to hybrid and multicloud environments with Azure Arc

Transform business and prepare for the future with comprehensive Azure data features

  • Enhanced capabilities within Azure Synapse (preview)
  • Azure Purview for unified data governance
  • Introducing SQL Server 2022 (gated preview)

Build resilient, scalable, innovative applications from the cloud to the edge

Create fusion teams to boost cross-functional collaboration and deliver apps faster

  • Key new features in Microsoft Power Platform are now available to enhance collaboration between makers and developers, accelerate code through Microsoft Power Fx, distribute branded apps natively on the app stores in Power Apps, and allow customers to use Azure subscriptions to distribute Power Apps without needing to acquire pre-paid licenses.

For more information on the above announcements, check out this blog by Kathleen Mitford, CVP of Azure Marketing. To catch up on on-demand Ignite sessions, head here.

Digital Events

On-demand: What’s Next for Sustainability

Hear Microsoft president Brad Smith and learn how to accelerate your sustainability journey. Discover how to record all of your business activities with automated data flows to create a real-time carbon emissions footprint for your entire operation and discover how to report on emissions and track progress toward your sustainability goals—all while making it easier to meet regulatory and public reporting requirements.

Watch now

On-demand: Azure IaaS Day

Learn how to keep your business-critical workloads running with a more resilient IT infrastructure. Hear success stories, see demos, and chat with product experts on the latest innovations in compute, storage, and networking.

Watch now

On-demand: Put Responsible AI into Practice

Discover 10 guidelines for developing AI responsibly. Join AI experts from Microsoft and BCG at Put Responsible AI into Practice. Get the latest insights into state-of-the-art AI, see how Azure customers are implementing responsible AI solutions in their organizations, and learn how to design, build, document, and validate AI systems responsibly.

Watch now

Azure Migration & Modernization Program

At Microsoft Ignite, we announced several new product and program investments including expanded scenario support through the Azure Migration and Modernization Program (AMMP). Starting in November, AMMP helps customers plan and move their SAP environments to Azure. We are also looking at several workloads on the AMMP roadmap, including Azure Red Hat OpenShift (ARO), cloud-native applications, Hybrid/Azure Arc, and Azure Security.

Several Ignite sessions covered these announcements and provided overall migration and modernization guidance:

Read the blog on new investments to help customer accelerate their Azure migration and modernization journey.

Azure Virtual Desktop

At Ignite, we announced previews for Azure Virtual Desktop for Azure Stack HCI and Autoscale. Check out the Microsoft Mechanics video featuring demo for Azure Virtual Desktop for Azure Stack HCI and the FAQ on Azure Virtual Desktop for Azure Stack HCI for more information. Also, read this blog to help partners grow ACR with the newly-released “Modernize VDI to Azure Virtual Desktop” Campaign-in-a-Box. Help them drive leads, obtain an advanced specialization, accelerate adoption and engagement, and access key programs and incentives. Finally, there are two customer offers available until December 31, 2021: Remote App Streaming promo and 30% discount offer on compute costs for new Azure Virtual Desktop customers.

Resources:

Windows Server Migration

At Ignite, we introduced unique capabilities for Windows Server on Azure. We announced new updates for Azure Automanage, which allows IT admins and DevOps professionals to simplify and optimize IT management with automated operations. Customers can now securely access file servers remotely over an untrusted network and without a VPN when you’re on a mobile device or working remotely. This capability is referred to as SMB over QUIC and its generally available. Please read our blog about the new Azure Automanage features.

Windows Server 2022, the next major release of Windows Server. The new release introduces advanced multi-layer security such as secured-core server, hybrid capabilities with Azure, and a flexible application platform. Software Assurance customers can take advantage of new version rights and will be able to upgrade to this latest release.

Resources:

SQL Server Migration

At Ignite, we announced the private preview of SQL Server 2022, the most comprehensive Azure-enabled release yet, with continued innovation in performance, security, and availability. Our announcements at Ignite 2021 represent some of our biggest investments yet: the new link feature, premium-series memory optimized hardware, up to 16 TB of storage capacity and Windows authentication support.

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Open Source Migration

Azure provides excellent value for Linux and OSS DB migrations. Microsoft has now expanded its portfolio of cloud database services for open-source data, with general availability of Azure Managed Instance for Apache Cassandra announced at Ignite. Azure Managed Instance for Apache Cassandra is the newest NoSQL database service on Azure and enables customers to run hybrid deployments of Cassandra data across on-premises and cloud. Azure Database for MySQL Flexible Server deployment option is now generally available.

Azure Database for MySQL Flexible Server provides a lower total cost of ownership compared to running on-premises, providing maximum control of the database and additional high availability SLA’s designed for mission-critical applications. Azure Database for MySQL Flexible Server is now generally available.

Hybrid Cloud Solutions

Ignite was a significant moment for Hybrid and Multicloud with Azure Arc and Azure Stack HCI. We announced several new capabilities in preview: VM self-service for VMware vSphere and Azure Stack HCI, Azure Arc-enabled Machine Learning Inferencing and Azure Virtual Desktop on Azure Stack HCI. We also announced feature innovations for Azure Stack HCI that deliver new and differentiated capabilities for the infrastructure, management, and security of Azure Stack HCI clusters as well as the general availability of Azure Arc-enabled data services in connected mode.

Resources:

Analytics

At Microsoft Ignite the Analytics Team announced that Azure Synapse data explorer is now generally available. This provides customers with an interactive query experience to unlock insights from log and telemetry data. See documentation for more information. Additionally, we announced Azure Synapse Link for Dataverse is now generally available. This capability enables customers using Power Apps, Power Automate, and Dynamics 365 to automatically bring their Dataverse data into Azure Synapse to perform advanced analytics tasks. See documentation for more information on Azure Synapse Link for Dataverse. Also, customers can now use database templates in Azure Synapse for specific industries to make integration of different data sources easier. New projects can leverage out-of-the-box database templates that address a wide variety of different business areas with great details. See our documentation for more information on database templates. Finally, hardware-accelerated clusters is now available in public preview for Apache Spark in Azure Synapse. By leveraging GPU hardware, you can reduce the time necessary to run data integration pipelines, score ML models, and more.

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AI

Azure AI surfaced in several ways at Ignite. Satya opened Ignite focusing on the four themes and landing key announcements—Azure AI landed under the “Innovate anywhere from multi-cloud to edge” theme. Other Ignite sessions you should watch include: Microsoft Into Focus: Data & AI; Introducing new innovations in Azure AI; Machine learning in multi-cloud and on-premise environments.

At Ignite we announced that Azure OpenAI Service is a new Azure Cognitive Service that provides customers access to OpenAI’s GPT-3 models with enterprise capabilities such as security, compliance, and scale requirements that are available only on Azure. OpenAI Service can be applied to a variety of new use cases from summarization to content and code generation. With responsible AI controls and advanced fine tuning, customers can apply these models to their most mission critical apps. OpenAI Service is currently available by invitation only.

Check out the new Azure Cognitive Service for Language. It consolidates familiar capabilities previously available in Text Analytics, QnA Maker, and Language Understanding (LUIS) into a unified service and introduces the new language studio.

Customer stories featured at Ignite included BMW, Vodaphone, and Datasite.

Resources:

App Innovation

Microsoft Ignite brought together hundreds of thousands of IT Pros and Developers for two days of announcements, connection, and learning. The Digital and Application Innovation content landed across the keynote, breakouts, ask the experts, and an Into Focus session where we had a conversation about building modern apps, modernizing existing applications, and some of the latest innovations for developers. We put together a summary page that is ready to share with all of the links, sessions, and learning paths in the developer’s guide to Microsoft Ignite.

Resources:

Modernize .NET Apps

In late October, we launched a new IDC App and Data Modernization whitepaper to help our customers better understand the benefits, challenges, opportunities, and best practices when modernizing their applications and data. In addition, we hosted a Modernize Apps and Data with Azure and Power Apps Virtual Event to provide further insight on how Microsoft can help them on this journey across .NET, Java, and LoB apps. The event featured our leadership team, partners, and customers as well as pre-recorded technical demos with live Q&A from our product experts. At Ignite, we had a variety of app mod and developer-centric sessions and announced new solutions for running IBM WebSphere and Oracle WebLogic Java Enterprise Edition (EE) apps on Azure container platforms.

Resources:

Cloud Native Apps

With Microsoft Ignite just behind us, there were several updates and announcements across the cloud-native space. New developer productivity features were announced for Azure Cosmos DB. We also announced a new service: Azure Container Apps and feature updates for Azure Kubernetes Service. See an overview of the top announcements on the Azure Cosmos DB blog and the Cloud Native blog and sign up for public preview.

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Cloud Adoption Framework

Announcing the launch of a brand new assessment – Cloud Adoption Strategy Evaluator! This assessment helps evaluate customer’s cloud adoption strategy and provides curated recommendations for building or advancing your cloud business case.

We have published a new Azure landing zones blog that summarizes all our investments on landing zones topic in our documentation content and implementation. We have also built a click-through interactive guide that includes exercises for deploying Azure landing zone accelerator and enhancing it to add security and governance. It also includes deploying CAF migration blueprint and customizing it. This is a great resource to share with customers and get them familiar with Azure landing zones implementation options.

We continue to build assets to GTM with CAF secure methodology and have published the CAF security overview deck on partner zone which covers the methodology overview, its purpose and the key security disciplines.

Also, check out the updated cloud economics webpage, which covers more tools and templates, analyst insights and technical content.

Lastly, partner enablement is a key priority and to support this we have created a 10hr Virtual Training Series (VTS) that will be available on demand. In addition, there will be a 3-day partner workshop from Dec 6th – 8th where our SMEs will deep dive into key modules in CAF delivered through an engaging, exercise-based format. Please register for the workshop to reserve a spot!

Resources:

Well-Architected

October and November were busy months for the Well-Architected program. Ten new videos, blog posts, product releases, and a partner pilot kick-off occurred (see Resources below).

Join Uli Homann, CVP and Distinguished Architect, and Eric Charran, Chief Architect for Azure IoT, as they discuss the many dimensions of the cloud. The videos are highly engaging and consumable...almost binge worthy!

At Ignite, the biggest news was the public preview announcement of Chaos Studio. Chaos Studio offers you a fully managed experimentation platform to accelerate discovery of hard-to-find issues – from late-stage development through to production – all within the familiarity of the Azure platform.

Resources:

Skills Building

New learning show launching for Windows Server administrators
This seven-part weekly Learn TV series will answer their questions live, share how they can configure advanced Windows Server services using on-premises, hybrid, and cloud technologies, and walk through Microsoft Learn modules related to the new Windows Server Hybrid Administrator Associate certification. The series kicked off at Microsoft Ignite on November 2 and will have a new episode every Thursday through December 16.

New learning path on Microsoft Learn
NVIDIA DeepStream Development with Microsoft Azure. With NVIDIA DeepStream, your customers can seamlessly develop optimized Intelligent Video Applications that are capable of consuming multiple video, image, and audio sources; apply single or cascading inference operations to video frames in real-time, and transmit inference results to the cloud for archiving or additional processing.

Azure Retirements

We are constantly innovating to meet our customers’ demand and help them stay competitive in their marketplace. As we drive innovation in our Azure services, we also need to retire older versions. This is part of any product lifecycle.

Bookmark this link to learn more about upcoming preview and general availability retirements. Additionally, you can visit https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/updates/ to learn about our services lifecycle news – in development, preview, general availability, and retirement.

Specialized Areas
Advanced Networking

The Microsoft Ignite conference was an exciting time for Azure networking with the announcement of Azure Virtual Network Manager, Azure Gateway Load Balancer, and many more services updates. Be sure to check out Erin Chappel’s keynote and blog. Also, we are excited to announce the General Availability of ExpressRoute IPv6 Support for Private Peering across all Azure regions.

Mixed Reality

At Ignite, we announced Mesh for Microsoft Teams. Mesh for Microsoft Teams will enable new experiences with personalized avatars and immersive spaces where users can connect with presence. With Mesh for Microsoft Teams, we are bridging the gap between physical and digital and empowering users to connect across devices wherever they choose to live and work from. Teams users will be able to access these Mesh enabled capabilities in preview, in the first half of 2022.

Resources:

  • Latest Forrester TEI study: The Total Economic Impact of Mixed Reality Using HoloLens 2 - find out how HoloLens 2 is delivering 177% return on investment.
  • Check out the new MR Partner Blog where we will have Mixed Reality partners guest blog about how they’ve successfully helped customers deploy a mixed reality solution on HoloLens 2 to boost productivity, collaborate more effectively and solve problems.
IoT

Gartner has positioned Microsoft as a Leader in the 2021 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Industrial IoT Platforms for the second year in a row and placed Microsoft furthest on Completeness of Vision and highest on Ability to Execute. You can read more about this in Sam George’s blog.

Windows 10 IoT Enterprise LTSC 2021 has gone RTM for OEMs. Windows 10 IoT Enterprise LTSC 2021 is the latest operating system designed for embedded and IoT devices with a 10-year support lifecycle. With every new release, we continue to deliver on our promise of bringing enterprise-class power, security, and manageability to the Internet of Things in addition to adding new features and capabilities.

Azure IoT CentralOrganizations is now available. IoT solution builders can now build an IoT solution once and onboard multiple tenants into it – keeping costs down and reducing management overhead with Azure IoT Central – Organizations. Because most IoT solution architectures today consist of a single cloud ingestion endpoint, scaling for multiple tenants is challenging. Currently, customers either spin up an instance of their IoT solution for each customer, or ingest all the data through a single endpoint, applying access control at the application layer. Both approaches increase the management overhead and create opportunities for security breaches. Organizations makes it easier to build, maintain and extend your IoT solution without additional work – or new vulnerabilities. Learn more through the tech blog.

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HPC

November saw several big conferences, including AMD and NVIDIA sponsorships at Ignite highlighting HPC + AI, NVIDIA GTC Fall, the AMD Acceleration Datacenter Premier, and Supercomputing ‘21. At AMD’s Acceleartion , we announced the preview of AMD’s new 3rd Gen EPYCTM processors with 3D V-cache, codenamed “Milan-X”, on HBv3 virtual machines. During Supercomputing the newest flagship VM of the AI-Supercomputer lineup, the NDm A100 v4 series, was announced as generally available. The new NDm A100 v4 series showed its power by claiming the #10 spot in the most recent Top500 list.

Don’t forget to check out our new case studies. AMD speaks to their use of the HBv3 VMs for product design and testing. Vestas told us how they are using machine learning to minize the wake effect and build a more sustainable future. Sensyne Health developed a mobile app that can analyze COVID tests and provide results in under 2 seconds with over 99% accuracy.

Resources:

Azure VMware Solutions

Azure VMware Solution featured at Microsoft Ignite through Erin Chapple’s keynote - Microsoft Ignite Into Focus: Infrastructure. The session included some of the recent updates to AVS as well as a great Demo from Joe Sarabia that illustrated how customers can combine their AVS private cloud with new ISV integrations and management features to create a DR solution in the cloud.

We are also excited to share that in November three new regions for Azure VMware Solution launched: Germany, France, and Japan West. With the Addition of these three regions, Azure VMware Solution is now available in 20 Azure regions globally, surpassing our closest competition in this space.

New product announcements for AVS expanded supported scenarios for DR and VDI workloads:

We are also excited to share the latest customer evidence for Azure VMware Solution. Investors Bank makes Data Center transformation to the cloud seamless with Azure VMware Solution, check out the full story here.

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