Microsoft announces Azure updates for IoT, databases and more

Microsoft's annual developer conference Build has already seen a host of new announcements

Microsoft Azure splash screen on a smartphone

Microsoft has kicked off its annual developer conference Build in Seattle with CEO Satya Nadella using his pre-event keynote to announce a slew of updates to its Azure services, including IoT, databases, analytics and storage.

Internet of Things (IoT)

The first update comes to Azure IoT Edge, Microsoft's cloud-based IoT monitoring and deployment platform used by businesses to coordinate their IoT devices. After nearly two years since its release, IoT Edge will now support Kubernetes integration in preview.

Microsoft's fully managed IoT SaaS, Azure IoT central, will now sport some enhanced features surrounding the rules it follows to process data and send it to analytics services as well as benefiting from some cosmetic upgrades to dashboards and data visualisation.

Databases

Microsoft has released an update to Azure SQL Database serverless which will appeal to those that care about being billed for unused compute. The update introduces a new compute tier for databases with intermittent usage with the goal of improving the cost-efficiency of the service. It involves scaling determined by workload and pauses compute when the database is inactive. It's now available in preview for single databases.

Developers will also now be able to scale compute, storage, and memory resources in a new Hyperscale service tier in Azure Database for PostgreSQL. It's now in public preview as Hyperscale (Citus) for PostgreSQL and in general availability as Azure SQL Database Hyperscale.

Storage

Azure Managed Disks will now support direct uploads at sizes from 32GB to 32TiB - an update now in public preview in all regions. Azure Managed Disks are virtual hard disks that act like a physical disk in an on-premise server.

Analytics

Azure Data Factory's two new components announced earlier this year will enter preview this week. Mapping Data Flows allows cloud users to transform data at scale by creating data transformation jobs without requiring any knowledge of coding. Also on the codeless theme, Wrangling Data Flows allows users to 'explore and wrangle data at scale' - visualising data en masse and making it easier to understand. The components are in public preview and private preview respectively.

Azure Data Warehouse also gets support for semi-structured data, which is also available in preview. ADW can now analyse both structured and semi-structured data such as JSON directly inside the service which yields faster insights.

In other news

Microsoft has treated us to many of the announcements prior to the event's official opening. AI and blockchain preset services were announced last week as appetisers for this week's event.

Azure Cognitive Services got smarter with Decision and Personaliser, two new components that are designed to provide users with smarter specific recommendations for better decision-making.

AI has been added to Azure Search, which will interact with Cognitive Services to unearth better insights from structured and unstructured content. Machine learning services have also been tweaked to enable codeless model creation and a new deployment service with drag and drop capabilities.

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