Azure News 2016 – Week 22

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This weeks Azure updates & news. The biggest news is SQL Server 2016, it’s what Azure started out with. Don’t forget, Azure news can also be heard on the ‘Need to Know‘ podcast.

Here is the audio only version of this news:

Microsoft SQL Server 2016

Microsoft is touting SQL Server 2016 as one of its biggest product releases. “It’s a wrap” is what people are saying about the new SQL Server 2016, a few cool points:

  • Stretch Database, a technology that aims to reduce storage costs while keeping large amounts of historical data available for querying in Azure
  • JSON support for building modern apps
    • Transform arrays of JSON objects into table format
    • Format the results of Transact-SQL queries in JSON format
  • SQL Reporting Reporting Service (SSRS), which had not seen an enhancement since 2010, now has a makeover,  HTML 5, Mobile Reports, and some Power BI integration
  • Columnstore indexes on in-memory tables. Create columnstore indexes on in-memory tables in the same way as disk-based tables. It greatly speeds up queries that require complete table scans
    • Using clustered columnstore indexes created huge savings in storage, allowing up to eighty percent less disk space for tables
    • Queries running up to two times faster on top of the 10x query performance gains from columnstore
  • A new paradigm where all joins, aggregations & machine learning are performed securely within the database itself without moving the data out, thereby enabling analytics on real-time transactions much faster
  • SQL Server 2016 features were first released in Microsoft Azure and stress-tested in real-world through over 1.7 million Azure SQL DB databases
  • There is a free version called SQL Server 2016 Developer, which includes the full feature set to be used in non-production environments for Visual Studio and MSDN subscribers

There is an e-book available online in which you can download for free –

PHP version 5.4 runtime reaching End of Life

On September 3, 2015, the PHP Group said PHP 5.4 was no longer supported. Because of this, Azure plans to retire support of PHP 5.4 in October 2016 and update the default version of PHP to PHP 5.6.

With this, the accommodating news is that PHP 7.0 is now generally available since May 2016 and now support for running PHP as 64-bit. It will be possible to remain on PHP 5.4 using the bring your own runtime feature in Web Apps by setting up handler mappings.

BYOL – bring your SQL Server licenses to Azure VMs

Microsoft Enterprise Agreement customers can bring existing licenses to run SQL Server on Azure Virtual Machines, these customers who already have SQL Server Licenses, can use them on Azure Virtual Machines with Microsoft-certified (BYOL) gallery images.

  • These VM images will not charge for SQL Server licensing, just for the compute cost.

New Microsoft Documentation Service

New documentation service is now in preview. The popular documentation websites TechNet and MSDN are both about 15 years old, this is the first major upgrade of the Microsoft documentation service providing a much overhauled experience. As part of the preview, the content will only be for EMS (Enterprise Mobility Suite) Documentation.

Improvements include:

  • Readability
  • Estimated Read Time
  • Content & Site Navigation
  • Shortened Article Length
  • Responsive Design
  • Community Contributions
  • Social Sharing
  • Friendly URLs
  • Website theming

Ability to switch offer now available

Azure Customers can now switch their Pay-As-You-Go subscription to another offer via the Azure Account Center. Microsoft will continue to add more options based on demand. Currently, Pay-As-You-Go subscriptions can be switched to one of the following:

  • 12-Month Commitment, a prepaid offer with a discount on Azure services
    • 5% discount on Azure services
    • Minimum purchase is $7,650
    • Don’t use it, you lose it – unused balance at the end of the 12-month term will be forfeited
  • Any of the monthly Azure credit offers for Visual Studio subscribers

For more information, please visit the Switching to a different Azure offer documentation webpage

Test-drive feature now available on Azure Marketplace

You can now try Azure Marketplace without an Azure subscription or making a payment. For example, if you want to experience Trend Micro’s Deep Security running on Azure, you can take a test drive first without the commitment. Launch a preconfigured image running on Azure with a couple of clicks, then explore, and finally decide whether it’s right for you. Players like Trend Micro, NetApp & Yellowfin are participating.


For more information, visit the Test drives on Microsoft Azure webpage.

That’s about it for this week,  Azure news can also be heard on the ‘Need to Know‘ podcast.

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