Azure Updates: API for FHIR; Outage; SQL VMs; Application Insights; SAP on Azure; COBOL updates

October 23 2019

In an announcement on October 21, Microsoft reported that it became the first cloud with what it describes as "a fully managed, first-party service to ingest, persist, and manage healthcare data in the native FHIR format." FHIR is short for Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resource and is rapidly becoming the industry standard for transmitting electronic health information. The introduction of Azure API for FHIR lets researchers and developers rapidly spin up a cloud-based system transmitting protected health information. Incorporating multiple layers of security and role-based access control the API offers audit log tracking and GDPR, HIPAA and HITRUST compliance. So far, Great Ormand Street Hospital in London is using FHIR in Azure as part of its Digital Research Environment. In its announcement, Microsoft indicated that FHIR may play an important role in the future application of AI to healthcare.

Mid-October was not without a few performance issues. Early in the morning on October 18, a large number of North American customers in the US and Canada were hit by over two hours of downtime when multi-factor authentication issues disrupted Azure Active Directory. Some users posted about creating an emergency Azure AD account to circumvent the authentication problem. Companies will need to submit claims individually, but those with subscriptions may be entitled to service-time credits for downtime.

According to Cointelegraph, a large number of cryptocurrency companies are choosing Azure. Currently 63 crypto apps are available on Azure Marketplace as opposed to 60 in the AWS marketplace. AWS and Azure are vying with each other using blockchain as a service platforms. So far, Microsoft has partnered with Ethereum-scaling platform Nahmii, Truffle and other blockchain providers.

Senior program manager Mine Tokus detailed online transactional processing price-performance improvements with Azure SQL VMs. Premium Disks come equipped with significant IOPS capacity, while Blobcache offers high-performance I/O for free, combining RAM and a local SSD. TPC-E or TCP-C also serve intensive workloads along with low-latency ultra-disks. In fact, users can deploy quickstart templates or use Azure portal when creating a SQL VM to automate performance-optimized storage configuration as well.

Some VM users will need to get ready for server downtime and update their VMs to take advantage of the NCv3 InfiniBand enhancements. This will add to SR-IOV availability and support multi-node computing scenarios.

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