This is a blog post of a new ongoing series of consolidated updates from the Cloud Platform team.

In today’s mobile first, cloud first world, Microsoft provides the technologies and tools to enable enterprises to embrace a cloud culture. Our differentiated innovations, comprehensive mobile solutions and developer tools help all of our customers realize the true potential of the cloud first era.

You expect cloud-speed innovation from us, and we’re delivering across the breadth of our Cloud Platform product portfolio. Below is a consolidated list of our latest releases to help you stay current, with links to additional details if you’d like more information. In this update:

  • Azure Data Catalog | ISO 27001 Compliance
  • Microsoft Cloud App Security (Adallom) | GA
  • Analytics Platform System (APS) AU5 | RTM
  • Azure AD Basic available via Direct Sales | GA
  • Azure App Service – API Apps | GA
  • Azure ExpressRoute for Office 365 GCC – Dynamics CRM Online Government | GA
  • Operations Management Suite Log Analytics forwarder (OMS Gateway) | Public
  • Power BI model Excel connection | GA
  • Power BI Publisher for Excel | GA
  • SQL Server 2016 | RC 2
  • System Center Configuration Manager: 1602 Update | GA

Azure Data Catalog | ISO 27001 Compliance

Azure Data Catalog general availability

Azure Data Catalog is an enterprise-wide metadata catalog enabling self-service data asset discovery. It’s a fully managed service in Azure. The Data Catalog stores, describes, indexes and provides information on how to access any registered data asset and makes data source discovery trivial. It facilitates collaboration and is designed to help close the gap between those who seek information and those who create it.

In contrast to the traditional metadata management solutions that are typically targeted at IT, Azure Data Catalog focuses on bridging the gap between IT and the business. It allows for crowd-sourced annotations that will help empower the users with the knowledge of the data to enrich the system during use by enabling them to capture their knowledge of each data asset as they are discovered. This while IT can still maintain control and oversight as the system evolves and can lock down visibility to selected assets as the need occurs.

For more information about the capabilities available with the service, please visit the Azure Data Catalog documentation.

Azure Data Catalog is offered in both a Free and a Standard Edition. The general availability pricing will be in effect starting May 1, 2016.

Review the general availability pricing information on the Azure Data Catalog Pricing page. For more information, please visit the Azure Data Catalog page.

Microsoft Cloud App Security (Adallom) | GA

Microsoft Cloud App Security is generally available

Even if your organization isn’t using cloud applications, your employees probably are. There’s a rapid increase in the use of cloud apps—approved and unapproved—in the workplace. Your current on-premises security tools may not give you the visibility and control that you need for these cloud apps.

Based on our Adallom acquisition, Microsoft Cloud App Security provides enterprise-grade security solution for Microsoft cloud applications like Office 365, as well as third-party cloud apps like Box and others. With Cloud App Security, you gain deeper visibility, stronger controls, and enhanced protection for your cloud applications.

We experienced Cloud App Security first-hand in our own IT systems as well:
“The use of Microsoft Cloud App Security provided discovery and insight to the usage of third party SaaS providers in an accelerated timeframe. This replaces custom log collection and analysis work that we have done in the past. The benefit is that we can now see usage in one dashboard view. Cloud App Security provided us information on SaaS usage that were previously unknown – including traffic to some sites that require investigation. We are looking forward to broad adoption of Cloud App Security to provide greater visibility to employee usage patterns across the company.” Bret Arsenault, Corporate Vice President and Chief Information Security Officer, Microsoft
Microsoft Cloud App Security is generally available. You can learn more by visiting our product page where we have rich content including videos and technical documentation. If you would like to see Cloud App Security in action, you can also request a demo.

Analytics Platform System (APS) AU5 | RTM

Microsoft is pleased to announce the release of the Analytics Platform System (APS) Appliance Update (AU) 5. APS is Microsoft’s scale-out Massively Parallel Processing fully integrated system for data warehouse specific workloads. Powered by industry-leading SQL Server as its core engine, APS leverages PolyBase, the tool that allows for integrated querying between relational and non-relational data technology, for Hadoop/Big Data integration.

This release offers customers additional language surface coverage to aid in migrations from SQL Server and other platforms, PolyBase connectivity to the current versions of Hadoop from Hortonworks and Cloudera, string predicate pushdown and Parquet file format support, Bulk Copy Program (BCP) support for data loading using well known SQL Server patterns and TSQL compatibility improvements. These features continue to provide greater alignment with SQL Server and bring significant value to our customers.

Azure AD Basic available via Direct Sales | GA

More ways to purchase Azure Active Directory Basic

Azure Active Directory Basic can now be purchased online through the Direct program, in addition to the existing options of Microsoft Enterprise Agreement, the Open Volume License Program and the Cloud Solution Providers program. Sign in to purchase, or watch this video to learn how.

Azure App Service – API Apps | GA

Building and consuming APIs has never been easier. With Azure App Service API apps, you can quickly and easily build and consume APIs in the cloud. It offers enterprise grade security, backed by Azure Active directory; offers simple access control that allows you to protect an API app from unauthenticated access and smooth integration with visual studio and Logic Apps to provide seamless connectivity between applications. API apps allow easy consumption of APIs across a variety of clients by offering automatic client code generation in various languages including C#, Java and JavaScript.
For more information on capabilities in API Apps, please visit our documentation page. API Apps are now generally available and can be consumed as part of Azure App Service pricing plan. For more information on pricing, please visit the Azure App Service pricing plan page.

Azure ExpressRoute for Office 365 GCC – Dynamics CRM Online Government | GA

Generally available

  • Azure ExpressRoute for Office 365 Government Community Cloud (GCC)
  • Azure ExpressRoute for Dynamics CRM Online Government

We are pleased to announce that Office 365 Government Community Cloud and Dynamics CRM Online Government are available for our government customers utilizing Microsoft Azure ExpressRoute for Azure Government.

You can now buy a physically separate, isolated, secure network connection for Office 365 Government Community Cloud and Dynamics CRM Online Government. The Microsoft Azure ExpressRoute for Azure Government Premium Add-on will be required for customers using ExpressRoute to access Office 365 Government Community Cloud and Dynamics CRM Online Government (Microsoft peering enabled).

Obtaining Azure ExpressRoute for Azure Government includes procuring Azure ExpressRoute, the Azure ExpressRoute Premium Add-On, Network Service Provider connectivity, and network configuration for this new connectivity:

  • If you have 500 or more Office 365 seats, then your ExpressRoute Premium Add-On will incur no additional charge, and you will be automatically routed to your Dynamics CRM Online Government (note regular costs apply for already having ExpressRoute Government, with required network operator connectivity).
  • If you have fewer than 500 Office 365 seats, and use Azure ExpressRoute to access Office 365 and/or Dynamics CRM Online, you can still purchase the ExpressRoute Premium Add-on, based on the revised (lower) prices, effective April 1, 2016. On May 1, 2016, we will simplify the licensing structure further, enabling premium offering via a single SKU approach. All existing Premium tier customers will be migrated to the new SKUs based on eligibility, with no change in service or price. No action is required.

If you’re already using Azure ExpressRoute for Government, you need to upgrade your ExpressRoute circuit to Premium to connect to Office 365 Government Community Cloud and Dynamics CRM Online Government. You can find what Office 365 services can be enabled on ExpressRoute here. You will still need to have the Public Internet access after you enable ExpressRoute for Office365 Government.

A physically separate instance of Azure ExpressRoute has been deployed specifically for Azure Government in Chicago, New York, and Washington DC. Initial partners for Azure ExpressRoute for Government, for Office 365 Government Community Cloud and Dynamics CRM Online Government include AT&T, Equinix, and Verizon.

With Azure ExpressRoute for Government, you can create private, high-throughput connections between Microsoft’s Government Cloud and your existing private network. Azure ExpressRoute Government connections don’t go over the public Internet, and they offer higher reliability, higher network throughput, and more predictable performance than typical connections over the Internet, all built on Microsoft Trusted Cloud principles including security, privacy, and control and compliance.

Check out the technical overview to learn more.

Operations Management Suite Log Analytics forwarder (OMS Gateway) | Public

Microsoft Operations Management Suite enables devices to send data for analysis behind the firewall.
A problem some enterprises face today is the inability to collect data from servers and clients (including point of sale devices) when they have no Internet connectivity.

Operations Management Suite Gateway allow your OMS-managed devices (Windows and Linux) to send data to a central server that has access to the Internet. The OMS Gateway is an HTTP forward proxy that supports HTTP tunneling through the HTTP CONNECT command.

Now in public preview, you can transfer data from agents installed on these devices to OMS. This way, all agent data is sent through a single server that has the OMS Forwarder installed on it and access to the Internet. In this scenario, the Forwarder efficiently transfers data from the agents to OMS directly without analyzing any of the transferred data.
Find detailed information here.

Power BI model Excel connection | GA

At the Microsoft Data Insights Summit we announced one of the ways we are deepening our integration with Excel: the ability to analyze Power BI data in Excel. With this week’s update you can now use this feature yourself to connect your Power BI data model to Excel and create Pivot Tables and Charts off of it. This means your data models are no longer restricted to Power BI. If you happen to be more comfortable in Excel or need to use Excel’s features, you can do that now.

Learn more about connecting to a Power BI model from Excel here.

Power BI Publisher for Excel | GA

Released in preview in January, Power BI publisher for Excel enables you to take snapshots of important PivotTables, Charts, cell ranges, and more from across all of your spreadsheets to a dashboard, then share the dashboard with your colleagues.

Today, we’re happy to announce the general availability of the Power BI publisher for Excel. Features include:

  • Pin any Excel range or component to a Power BI dashboard directly from Excel
  • Pin Manager to manage your pinned components
  • Pin to a groups dashboard
  • Support for 42 languages

Learn more about Power BI publisher for Excel here.

SQL Server 2016 | RC 2

SQL Server 2016 Release Candidate (RC) 2 was released on April 1, 2016. In SQL Server 2016 RC 2, part of our new rapid preview model, we have made enhancements to features customers can try in their SQL Server 2016 development and test environments. In SQL Server 2016 RC 2, customers will see enhancements to mobile reports, the integration of R Services setup into the SQL Server setup, and this release of SSMS features an update to the Visual Studio 2015 shell.

Set up a SQL Server 2016 RC preview test environment today! To experience the new, exciting features in SQL Server 2016 and the new rapid release model, download the preview and start evaluating the impact these new innovations can have for your business.

System Center Configuration Manager: 1602 Update | GA

Now available: Update 1602 for System Center Configuration Manager

We are excited to announce the release of our first update for the current branch of System Center Configuration Manager! Version 1602 of Configuration Manager is now globally available.

This update includes the following and much more:

  • New antimalware policy settings: New antimalware settings include protection against potentially unwanted applications, user control of automatic sample submission, and scanning of network drives during a full scan.
  • Office 365 Update Management: You can now natively manage Office 365 desktop client updates using the Configuration Manager Software Update Management (SUM) workflow. You can manage Office 365 desktop client updates just like you manage any other Microsoft Update.
  • Support for SQL Server AlwaysOn Availability Groups: Configuration Manager now supports using SQL Server AlwaysOn Availability Groups to host the site database.

This update also includes a number of new features for customers using System Center Configuration Manager integrated with Microsoft Intune. To view the full list of new features in this update and to learn more about the new functionality, see our product blog post and What’s new in version 1602 of Configuration Manager on TechNet.

Source: Cloud Platform Release Announcements for April 13, 2016 | Cloud Platform News Bytes Blog