Azure Site Recovery, Other Azure Tools Hit General Availability

A number of Microsoft's Azure services reached the general availability (GA) stage this month, meaning they are now considered commercially viable and backed by service level agreements.

Most of the GA announcements were made late last week. Among the products that are at the GA stage is Azure Site Recovery. The service had been available, but now it commercially supports VMware workloads, in addition to Hyper-V ones. The ability to replicate VMware workloads and physical machines to Azure infrastructure is now at the GA status with the Azure Site Recovery service. Microsoft sees this service as being used by organizations to add disaster recovery protections or to facilitate dev-test operations. Users can conduct disaster recovery drills and they can scale up their disaster recovery setups. The service also supports "automated VMware vCenter Server discovery," according to Microsoft's announcement.

Another Azure resource that hit the GA status is a new Linux Remote Direct Memory Access (RDMA) option for running memory-intensive compute applications on Linux servers. Linux RDMA extends the processing across two servers or virtual machines in Azure, according to Microsoft's announcement. It's available with Azure's A8 and A9 virtual machine sizes, and offers "near 'bare metal' performance of less than 3 microsecond latency and greater than 3.5 Gbps bandwidth," according to Microsoft's announcement. SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 12 is currently supported by the Linux RDMA option, and an integrated image is currently available in the Azure Marketplace. However, Microsoft is also working with other Linux server distributors on adding a Linux RDMA option.

The Azure Batch service is now at GA status. This service lets developers run parallel compute-intensive workloads without having to maintain the underlying infrastructure. The service can automatically scale up or scale down workloads across "thousands of virtual machines," according to Microsoft's announcement, with management carried out through the Azure portal. With the GA release, Microsoft won't charge for Azure Batch's "resource management and job scheduling capabilities." Instead, users pay for the compute resources they use. Some aspects of the service are at the preview stage, though. For instance, Microsoft has introduced new REST-based API previews that unify the namespaces used with Batch and Batch Apps. Also, "job splitter" and "task process" Batch Apps capabilities are still at preview.

Preview Status
On top of the Azure GA news, Microsoft announced a preview of Azure Data Catalog, which is available as of Monday. It's a metadata system designed to communicate the value of data sources in organizations. Analysts and data scientists typically might specify the object names, attribute names and data types associated with the data source using the Azure Data Catalog service, providing a means for others to search for the information. The Azure Data Catalog requires having an Azure Active Directory subscription and needs to be set up initially by the account administrator or a co-administrator, according to Microsoft's "getting started" information.

Another preview release is Apache Spark for Azure HDInsight. Azure HDInsight is Microsoft's Big Data service offering, while Apache Spark is an open source processing framework for speeding up data analytics. Microsoft sees Apache Spark being used with Azure HDInsight to build more interactive queries of unstructured data. Microsoft's Power BI service, which will hit GA status on July 24, will come with connectors to Apache Spark.

On Monday at its Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC), Microsoft announced the Cortana Analytics Suite. It combines various Big Data services in Azure, along with machine learning, Bing search and Cortana speech-recognition capabilities, plus visual recognition capabilities. It's not yet at GA status. Rob Helm, managing vice president at independent consultancy Directions on Microsoft, described the Cortana Analytics Suite as a "new brand for Microsoft machine learning and Big Data services."

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.


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