Ignite 2022: AI, PostgreSQL and Azure pricing on Microsoft’s menu

At Microsoft Ignite 2022, Microsoft launched additional services on Azure, including for its Dev Box development environment. Also on the agenda are PostgreSQL support for Cosmos DB, invitational access to OpenAI DALL-E 2 imaging software, and plans to reduce compute costs.

This Wednesday, Microsoft kicked off its annual Ignite conference by showcasing numerous updates to Azure cloud services, including additions to its Dev Box development environment, PostgreSQL support for Cosmos DB, invitational access to OpenAI DALL-E 2 imaging software, an extended Azure Hybrid Benefit program, and a compute cost reduction plan. These announcements are part of the company’s overall strategy to position Azure as a development center, with a growing range of tools for developers.

Speed ​​up the development process with Dev Box

Microsoft Dev Box, first introduced in August and still in preview, is a cloud-based, ready-to-code virtual desktop service. “With access to Visual Studio available as soon as they create a Dev Box, developers save time and can focus on coding what matters,” the company said in a statement, without indicating when the product would be available. . Usually, developers have to download Visual Studio, an integrated development environment (also known as an IDE), and configure it so that it has the necessary settings to write code, said Arnal Dayaratna, vice-developer. Chair of Software Development Research at IDC.

“This process of downloading and setting up an IDE is time-consuming and can involve a tremendous amount of manual work before writing a single line of code,” adds Dayaratna. Dev Box provides a managed, pre-configurable development environment so developers don’t have to install or configure development tools. This speeds up the development process, the analyst explained. According to Dayaratna, rival cloud service providers do not have a similar feature.

The screenshot shows a developer deploying a development box called “dev box”. (Credit: Microsoft)

The struggle with AWS and Google for PostgreSQL users

As more companies move data from their traditional databases to open source databases in the cloud, major cloud service providers such as Microsoft, Google, and Amazon Web Services (AWS) are offering database services supporting PostgreSQL due to its growing popularity, according to analysts. Some of the databases supported by PostgreSQL include Amazon Aurora, Google’s AlloyDB, and Azure Database for PostgreSQL. In a similar vein, Microsoft supports PostgreSQL for its “globally-wide” managed distributed database, Cosmos DB.

“Redmond’s vendor definitely supports PostgreSQL because companies want a mixed data management platform that covers both structured (PostgreSQL) and unstructured data (Cosmos itself is a document DBMS),” Carl said. Olofson, vice president of research at IDC. According to Carl Olofson, this mix (PostgreSQL support for Cosmos DB) is probably Microsoft’s efforts to present a unified data management framework for the cloud (eg Azure).

With Cosmos DB for PostgreSQL, Microsoft promises scalability and high performance worthy of NoSQL. (Credit: Microsoft)

According to Constellation Research principal analyst Doug Henschen, support for popular application PostgreSQL will help broaden Cosmos DB’s developer base. “Adding PostgreSQL support will also benefit enterprises, due to the shortage of developers. For a specific project, commissioning time is shortened because they don’t have to learn a new tool,” Henschen added. Cosmos DB, which can function as a NoSQL document database, SQL relational store, or graph database, was updated at Ignite 2021 to be made serverless, with the ability to get a free tier.

Access to DALL-E tests the use of AI in the real world

The firm is also allowing invitational access to the DALL-E 2 Image Generation AI model, which is part of Azure OpenAI and the Azure AI service, to test it and get closer to using the software. in the real world. DALL-E 2 allows users to generate custom images from a text description or existing images, the company said.

According to Ritu Jyoti, vice president of IDC’s research group, Microsoft is allowing access to the model to discover more real-world use cases for its AI while improving its security. “He is continuing his research into how AI systems, like DALL-E 2, reproduce certain biases in training data and ways to address them. Exploited without certain precautions, this model can generate inaccurate or far-reaching images, excluding certain specific ethnic groups or ignoring character traits that may lead to prejudice,” added Ritu Jyoti. DALL-E 2 offers a potential tool for authoring or visualization in fields such as engineering and architecture, Jyoti explained, adding that the model can also generate datasets to improve training in design. machine learning.

Azure Pricing Programs Update

As part of the announcements made at Ignite 2022, Microsoft also updated several of its cloud pricing programs, with the extension of Azure Hybrid Benefit and a reduced compute cost plan. Azure Hybrid Benefit, a licensing benefit for enterprises to reduce the costs of running cloud workloads under the company’s Azure Arc multi-cloud bridge management service, will now include Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS). Enterprises will be able to deploy Azure Kubernetes on Azure Stack HCI or Windows Server in data centers or edge environments at no additional cost, according to the firm.

Among other updates, the SAP Change Capture Data (CDC) connector in Azure Data Factory and the Azure Automanage service are now generally available. The SAP CDC connector enables integration of SAP data for advanced analytics. Azure Automanage, an autoconfiguration service designed to drive system configuration best practices, is now available for Azure virtual machines (VMs) and Arc servers on Azure, on-premises and other clouds, according to Microsoft. Additionally, the vendor has introduced an Azure Compute Savings Plan which the company claims saves more on compute services compared to pay-as-you-go pricing.

Finally, the rolling Azure updates also include the availability of Nutanix Cloud Clusters on Azure and the availability of the Azure VMware solution in 24 regions around the world.

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