The Latest Azure Updates: Cognitive Services; Blockchain; IoT Hub; Optimization; Security Center; Channel announcements

June 12 2019

At the start of June, Google Cloud experienced an outage which interrupted services like YouTube and G Suite. Although the impacts remain unclear, the outage of a well-known provider like Google may convince some cloud users to adopt a multi-cloud approach that includes competitors like Microsoft Azure.

Microsoft is positioning Cognitive Services for a more significant role in call centers, through a combination of Text Analytics APIs and Speech APIs. In a combined scenario, record calls can be converted to text with the Speech APIs and then assessed by the sentiment analysis API for positive, negative or neutral sentiment. The key phrase extraction API further hones the model, associating key phrases with sentiment analysis scores. All of the data can be fed into Power BI for further analysis. In fact, Named Entity Recognition is now part of the Text Analytics API, supporting Spanish and English, and spotting occurrences of people, locations or organizations. Partial versions of the updated API extend to dates and times for German, French and Chinese.

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Blockchain continues to emerge as a prominent new technology available through Azure. Forbes reported that since blockchain startup, Truffle, added its tools to Azure on May 2, they have been downloaded more than 2.7 million times. The tools include an extension from Visual Studio Code that lets developers create smart contracts and test them locally. So far, Oracle and Salesforce have introduced their own blockchain solutions while AWS partnered with Kaleido.

DevTest Labs offers a new Shared Image Galleries feature that lets users access images from a shared location during the process of creating lab resources. The DevTest Labs managed global replication approach is also accompanied by versioning and grouping as well as Zone Redundant Storage accounts for regions with Availability Zones. GitHub Package Registry offers a new way for developers to host container images and software packages ranging from JavaScript, NPM, Ruby Gems, Maven and NuGet packages to Docker images.

New controls in Azure portal allow the creation of Azure Event Hub clusters (together with Azure Resource Manager). Cluster creation can shift to lower cost fixed hourly billing and allows single tenant hosting. For now, the feature is only available in the US, North and West Europe, South East Asia and UK South.

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