With Azure and Office 365, Microsoft already has a strong position in the business cloud market. But the company isn't resting on its laurels, it used this week's Convergence 2014 conference in Barcelona to announce a number of innovations to help enterprises gain greater benefit from the cloud.
The main announcement is that the latest Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 release will be generally available in December this year. The new release is designed to address the growing need for businesses to deliver seamless experiences to their customers by helping them break down the barriers between divisions.
Securing applications in the cloud can prove a difficult challenge for businesses. Any solution needs to balance protection against accessibility and not harm performance.
Everybody deserves the opportunity to compete and feel good about themselves. The Special Olympics is a great example of this; people with intellectual disabilities compete against each other in sports to build confidence, and most importantly, have fun. The non-profit organization is essential for many people the world over.
Today, Microsoft announces that it is partnering with the organization to modernize its technology with a big focus on the cloud. The Special Olympics will be getting all kinds of cool stuff, like Lumia smartphones and Surface tablets.
Microsoft has announced the addition of several new features to its Azure data services platform to support Apache Hadoop.
Azure HDInsight will gain support of real-time analytics for Apache Hadoop and Azure Marketplace will benefit from new machine learning capabilities.
Most of us have hopefully managed to get off the sinking ship that was Windows XP. As much of a recent memory as that has become, a new end of life is rearing its head, and it's approaching fervently for those who haven't started planning for it. Microsoft's Windows Server 2003, a solid server operating system that's now about eleven and a half years old, is heading for complete extinction in just under 300 days. Microsoft has a fashionable countdown timer already ticking.
Seeing as we just finished our second server migration in a single week (a personal record so far), sharing some of the finer aspects of how we are streamlining these transitions seems like a timely fit. This braindump of sorts is a collection of best practices that we are routinely following for our own customers, and they seem to be serving us well so far.
Microsoft has announced service enhancements and a reduced price scheme for its Azure SQL database, as a result of customer feedback.
Microsoft has now promised to deliver a service-level agreement (SLA) of 99.99 percent availability, equivalent to a downtime of just 53 minutes per year.
Microsoft has released its earnings results for the fourth fiscal quarter of the year (that is Q2 CY2014), posting revenue of $23.38 billion, gross margin of 15.79 billion and operating income of $6.48 billion. As a result, earnings per share (EPS) came in at $0.55 (below analyst expectations of $0.60).
Revenue, gross margin and operating income are higher than a year before, when they reached 19.89 billion, 14.29 billion and 6.07 billion, respectively. However, EPS is lower, dropping from $0.59. "We are galvanized around our core as a productivity and platform company for the mobile-first and cloud-first world, and we are driving growth with disciplined decisions, bold innovation, and focused execution", says Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. "I'm proud that our aggressive move to the cloud is paying off -- our commercial cloud revenue doubled again this year to a $4.4 billion annual run rate".
Microsoft Azure is adding a number of new features to its public cloud offering that provide customers with extra security protection and disaster recovery improvements.
The firm told attendees at its TechEd conference in Houston that a glut of new features will include enhanced malware protection, performance protection for virtual machines as well as various parts of the product being refreshed, according to Cloud Pro.
You will have heard by now that a major vulnerability in the OpenSSL library was just made public. Called Heartbleed, it affects the security of a huge number of cloud services and sites as well as various products, like operating systems and apps, which have employed it during the past two years. The impact can be devastating, as there is no way of telling if Heartbleed was exploited, or how much data may have been stolen so far.
A number of companies have already announced the patching of their OpenSSL-toting services and products. Google was among the first to do so, yesterday. Evernote, however, just revealed that its users are not affected. Microsoft has also decided to shed light on whether Heartbleed impacts its users, saying that Windows Azure, Microsoft account, and Windows are immune.
After announcing the upcoming rebranding of Windows Azure to Microsoft Azure, the software giant has revealed its cloud platform is now broadly available in China. 21Vianet is responsible for the operation in the local Asian market.
"This significant milestone makes us the first global company to make onshore public cloud services available to customers in China", says Microsoft corporate vice president of Cloud & Enterprise Marketing Takeshi Numoto. Microsoft Azure has been available to local customers since June 6, last year, but only as a public preview.
You likely haven't made it this far in life without learning about prime numbers, as they are one of the fundamentals of mathematics. They are also a big part of the technology world, being used for encryption. You may not think about them everyday, but there are people out there who do, and now you can be one of them.
Microsoft is introducing the Prime Challenge, a contest to find the undiscovered prime numbers, of which there likely are quite a lot, though nobody can really say how many. "The challenge is open to all; everyone is encouraged to try and find a 'lost prime'. To enter the challenge just go to www.primechallenge.org and follow the instructions online", says Microsoft.
When thinking of personal radio, services such as Pandora, Rdio, Spotify and others come to mind. Windows Azure is not a part of this word association game, but the Microsoft service is capable of powering such apps for mobile platforms, and works with Windows Phone, iPhone and Android.
Now Long Zheng, formerly of the ChevronWP7 team, has announced his startup 121Cast is releasing Omny -- which the company hopes will change the way people use their mobile devices for music, email, news and more. "I know the word 'revolutionize' is very much a cliché for tech startups but I do think we've come up with an easier, more interactive, and all around better way for the busy mobile individual to listen to news, entertainment, music and important updates on the go", Zheng states. "Omny expands on that idea [SoundGecko] to provide a more diverse range of content such as professional radio shows, podcasts and music through Spotify, Rdio, Songl and iTunes", he continues.
During day two's keynote at the Microsoft Build 2013 developer conference, Server and Tools Business President Satya Nadella talked about the SaaS (Software as a Service) applications Microsoft runs.
In particular he focused on the scale and diversity of the company’s daily work in the cloud, while a "Battle Tested" slide displayed the all-important numbers for Xbox Live, Skype, Outlook.com, Office 365, SkyDrive and Bing.
In an effort to beef up the security of its cloud platform, late-yesterday, Microsoft introduced two-step authentication for Windows Azure. The new feature is available through a service called Active Authentication and, according to the software giant, is mostly aimed at enterprises.
"Companies can enable multi-factor authentication for Windows Azure Active Directory identities to help secure access to Office 365, Windows Azure, Windows Intune, Dynamics CRM Online and many other apps that are integrated with Windows Azure AD", says Windows Azure director Sarah Fender. "Developers can also use the Active Authentication SDK to build multi-factor authentication into their custom applications and directories".
Windows Azure undergoes constant improvements as Microsoft continues to beef up the cloud platform with new features and enhancements. The software giant has released SDK 2.0 for .NET (Software Development Kit), introduced Hadoop, Dropbox and IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) support, new VM (Virtual Machine) configurations and adopted a new pricing strategy, all within the past couple of months.
And, late-yesterday, Microsoft revealed a new update for Windows Azure, designed to enhance its development and testing credentials. There are two noteworthy changes aimed at minimizing cost: users are now billed by the minute when using the cloud platform's resources (instead of by the hour, prior to the update) and they are no longer charged for stopped VMs (the deployment state and configuration are both preserved).