Announcing Azure Media Player

Reach the most popular devices with a single development experience

Azure Media Player is a free player solution built to playback media content from Microsoft Azure Media Services. Azure Media Player has the ability to reach a wide variety of browsers and devices with a simple HTML and JavaScript code. Azure Media Player is easy to set up and use. It only takes a few minutes to get playback of media content working from your Azure Media Services account.

Try it now!

Visit http://aka.ms/azuremediaplayer to see a working, interactive, demo of the player.  See the power of Azure Media Player by accessing the site from your PC, Mac, and popular mobile devices!

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Microsoft Announces New Container Technologies for the Next Generation Cloud

Guest post by Mike Neil, General Manager for Windows Server, Microsoft

In today’s cloud-first world, businesses increasingly rely on applications to fuel innovation and productivity. As the cloud evolves, containers are emerging as an attractive way for developers to quickly and efficiently build and deploy these applications at the speed of business. Offering developers and IT professionals the ability to deploy applications from a workstation to a server in mere seconds, containers are taking application development to a whole new level.server-cloud-apr8-1.png-720x0 2

Last October, Microsoft and Docker, Inc. jointly announced plans to bring containers to developers across the Docker and Windows ecosystems via Windows Server Containers, available in the next version of Windows Server. We will be unveiling the first live demonstration in a few weeks, starting at the BUILD conference. Today, we are taking containerization one step further by expanding the scenarios and workloads developers can address with containers:

• Hyper-V Containers, a new container deployment option with enhanced isolation powered by Hyper-V virtualization
• Nano Server, a minimal footprint installation of Windows Server that is highly optimized for the cloud, and ideal for containers.

Read more

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Announcing the Launch of Azure App Service

Azure App Service is an enterprise-grade cloud app service that can help you more quickly and easily create more powerful enterprise web and mobile apps for multiple platforms and devices. App Service integrates the best of Azure Websites, Mobile Services, API Management, and Azure BizTalk Services, along with new capabilities in Logic and API apps, to provide you with a unified set of capabilities for everything from the billing model to the development and management experience. Also, be sure to watch Scott Guthrie announce Azure App Service in this on-demand recording from March 24, 2015.

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The Office 2016 Mac Preview is here!

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Have you been waiting for the new Office 2016 for Mac, your wait is over !

A preview of the new Office 2016 for Mac is now officially available. Click here to give it a try

Office 2016 for Mac is powered by the cloud so you can access your documents on OneDrive, OneDrive for Business and SharePoint at anytime, anywhere and on any device.

Office 2016 for Mac shares an unmistakably Office experience–but it is also thoughtfully designed to take advantage of the unique features of the Mac. The new apps offer full retina display support with thousands of retina-optimized graphics, full screen view for native immersive experiences, and even little Mac affordances like scroll bounce.

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Cloud 9 Infosystems Inc. gets a gold lining

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We have won Gold! Cloud 9 Infosystems Inc. has earned Gold Status Microsoft Partner on Cloud Platform for cloud competency and skills in this area. We are very pleased to reach this coveted milestone. Our Microsoft competency places us in the top 5 percent of Microsoft partners for our expertise.

Microsoft’s Gold Certified Status recognizes both our technical expertise and our commitment to Microsoft. We are committed to staying deeply informed about the latest Microsoft products and technologies so we can create innovative solutions to help give our customers a competitive advantage.

Microsoft Gold Certified Partners receive a rich set of benefits, including access, training and support, giving them a competitive advantage. We are excited to extend this advantage to our customers.

See what our Microsoft competency means for you.

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Preview Available for Latest Version of Azure SQL Database

The availability of a new preview, which was previously announced in November, introduces near-complete SQL Server engine compatibility and more Premium performance, representing the next-generation of the SQL Database service. Internal tests on over 600 million rows of data show Premium query performance improvements of around 5x in the new preview relative to today’s Premium SQL Database and up to 100x when applying the In-memory column store technology. The features in today’s preview mark the first step toward delivering exciting new capabilities for customers on this new service architecture.

This preview continues the momentum of the general availability of the new service tiers, Basic, Standard, and Premium, which deliver scalable performance, built-in geo-replication and recovery features, and introduced the first cloud database 99.99% uptime SLA. Since September, we also made Auditing generally available and introduced Elastic Scale technologies that significantly streamline high-end scale out. Today, customers are using the scale out approach to prove the power of the service to run their mission-critical applications; one customer has almost 90TB of data across ~2,000 databases, processing ~380,000 logins per day while another customer is running a multi-tenant application with over 20TB of data across ~225,000 databases, processing over 2 million logins per day.

Today’s preview continues our journey to bring industry-leading in-memory technologies to the cloud as well as unlock new functionality that streamlines the movement of SQL Server database applications to Azure and also dramatically improves the ability for customers to work with heavier database workloads. Weichert, one of the nation’s leading full-service real estate providers, is actively using the new preview.

“We are deeply driven by ROI and committed to migrating our mission-critical apps to Azure—last year we saw a 60% cost savings after moving our real estate search engine, weichert.com, to Azure. From a strategy perspective, these SQL Database service updates are our answer to migrating and working with large data types by leveraging features such as online index rebuild, and partitioning,” stated Joe Testa, Vice President of Systems Development, Weichert.“Simply put, the results so far have been fantastic—we’re seeing >2x better performance and the advanced features that were only previously available in SQL Server now make it easier to work with our applications as we continue to migrate our mission-critical apps to Azure.”

Detailed enhancements of this preview are available on the preview getting started page, however, key highlights are as follows:

Easier management of large databases to support heavier workloads with parallel queries (Premium only), table partitioning, online indexing and worry-free large index rebuilds with 2GB size limit removed, and alter database command.
Support for key programmability functions to drive more robust application design with CLR, T-SQL Window functions, XML index, and change tracking.
Up to 100x performance improvements with support for In-memory columnstore queries (Premium only) for data mart and smaller analytic workloads.
Improved monitoring and troubleshooting: Extended Events (XEvents) and visibility into over 100 new table views via an expanded set of Database Management Views (DMVs).
New S3 performance level: offers more pricing flexibility between Standard and Premium. S3 will deliver 100 DTU and all the features available in the Standard tier for $0.2016/hour ($0.1008/hour during preview).
To try this preview, please sign up via the Azure Preview Features page or via the new Azure Portal. Pricing for databases enrolled in this preview is discounted 50% from Basic, Standard and Premium general availability pricing. Only SQL Database servers that have a mix of one or more Basic, Standard, or Premium databases (no Web or Business) will be eligible to upgrade to this new preview.

I am incredibly excited for you to try this preview which will help you more easily build or migrate more robust SQL-based applications on Azure while gaining the near-zero administration benefits of database-as-a-service.

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Automated Everything with SQL Server on IaaS VMs

Director of Program Management, Azure

Today, we are excited to announce support for automated backup and automated patching, available directly in the portal for SQL Server Azure Virtual Machines. Both of these features are built with the new SQL Server IaaS Agent, an Azure VM Extension, combining the power and management ease of SQL Server with the agility offered by extensions on Azure Virtual Machines, enabling single-click backup and patching configuration and management.

Using automated backup on SQL Virtual Machines deployed in Azure, you can configure a scheduled backup on SQL Server 2014 Enterprise. With a few clicks in the portal, you can control the retention period, the storage account for the backup, and the security/encryption policies of the database.

SQL VMIn addition to automated backup, we are also announcing automated patching for SQL Server VMs. This new solution allows you to define the maintenance window directly from the portal. The SQL Server IaaS Agent will configure Windows running on your Virtual Machine with your preferred maintenance settings, including the day for maintenance, the start time of the window and the proposed duration.

Optional ConfigIt is an exciting set of new capabilities that continues to show the integrated experience for running SQL Server on the fast scale-out and fast scale-up Azure Virtual Machines. We will continue to focus on these integrated experiences over the next few months.

For more details, check out the SQL Server blog post here. Go ahead, try these features out for yourself at https://portal.azure.com. Scale-out a bit.

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