Microsoft has enhanced several Azure services, including Azure DocumentDB, a fully managed, scalable NoSQL document database service. Azure Search, search-as-a-service, has entered general availability and Azure Media Services Premium Encoder has entered into preview.
All three exemplify Microsoft’s moving Azure forward and differentiating its cloud with advanced functionality. All enhancements broaden the potential use cases where Azure makes sense, aimed at workloads that are traditionally done predominantly outside of cloud.
Microsoft also added a few more super-powered instances, A10 and A11. Both are aimed at compute intensive applications such as video encoding, risk modeling and simulation.
DocumentDB will enter general availability in about a month, with three standard performance levels. Different collections of data within can be assigned to different performance levels to tune for performance levels needed.
The managed NoSQL document database offers rich query and transactional processing over a schema-free JavaScipt Object Notation (JSON) data model.
“Developers want to build cloud-based applications that support multiple platforms and different concurrent versions between multiples applications for user-generated content, IoT, and gaming scenarios,” Vibhor Kapoor, director, product marketing at Microsoft Azure, on the Azure blog. “They want these applications to deliver high-scale and reliable performance. NoSQL has emerged as the leading category of database technology to address these needs.”
Enhancements ahead of GA include Hadoop integration, a Java SDK, larger document support, SQL parameterization. Additional regions, hourly billing and larger account sizes have also been enabled.
Azure Search helps developers bake search functionality into web and mobile applications.
“Azure Search enables developers to reduce the friction and complexity of implementing full-text search, and differentiate their applications by leveraging powerful features not available with other search packages such as enhanced multilanguage support,” Kapoor wrote.
Azure Search supports more than 50 languages at launch and uses natural language processing used in Microsoft Office and Bing.
Updates that come with GA include easier data loading from DocumentDB, Azure SQL Database, and SQL Server on Azure VMs to Search using new indexers. A .NET software development kit (SDK) was also made available.
Azure Media Services Premium Encoder entered into preview. It offers advanced encoding capabilities for on-demand media workflows. Microsoft claimed it is tuned and suited for broadcast industry/professional media transcodes.
Enhancements include automated decision-making logic that adapts to a variety of inpute file formats, support for additional input and output codex and file formats, and a powerful workflow design tool.
The Media Services are fully integrated with Azure Content Delivery Network (CDN), two services heavily used in conjunction by streaming media companies. One offers a quick way to encode, the other a quick way to provision edge services for global reach and better performance.
A general enhancement is enhanced application security. Azure Active Directory has some new functionality in preview that allows assigning shared application accounts to groups, and better password practices through randomly created complex passwords in custom intervals.