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NTT and Microsoft form a strategic alliance to enable new digital solutions

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella (left), and Jun Sawada, President and CEO of NTT Corporation (right).

Tokyo/Redmond, Wash. – December 10, 2019 – NTT Corporation (NTT) and Microsoft Corp. today announced a multi-year strategic alliance aimed at delivering secure and reliable solutions that help enterprise customers accelerate their digital transformations. The alliance will bring together NTT’s best-in-class ICT infrastructure, managed services and cybersecurity expertise, with Microsoft’s trusted cloud platform and AI technologies. Key initiatives of the alliance include the creation of a Global Digital Fabric, development of digital enterprise solutions built on Microsoft Azure, and co-innovation of next-generation technologies in the area of all-photonics network and digital twin computing.

NTT logoAs one of the world’s largest global technology and business solution organizations, NTT provides integrated services that include digital business consulting and managed services for cybersecurity, applications, cloud, datacenters and global networks in over 190 countries and regions. As part of the strategic alliance, NTT has chosen Microsoft Azure as its preferred cloud platform for modernizing its global IT infrastructure and customer solutions in the areas of advanced analytics for cybersecurity threat intelligence and the hybrid-IT management platform.

“NTT is committed to helping enterprises realize their digital transformation initiatives to help create a smarter world. We believe that the combination of the Microsoft Azure platform along with NTT’s connected infrastructure and service delivery capabilities will accelerate these efforts. Additionally, the companies will collaborate on IOWN, including areas such as all-photonics network and digital twin computing,” said Jun Sawada, President and CEO of NTT.

“Our strategic alliance combines NTT’s global infrastructure and services expertise with the power of Azure,” said Satya Nadella, CEO, Microsoft. “Together, we will build new solutions spanning AI, cybersecurity and hybrid cloud, as we work to help enterprise customers everywhere accelerate their digital transformation.”

Key initiatives of the alliance include:

  1. Formation of a Global Digital Fabric

Global Digital Fabric is a combination of Microsoft Cloud and NTT’s globally connected ICT infrastructure. It brings together the strengths of the two companies in the areas of productivity solutions, public cloud, global datacenter and network infrastructure. The Global Digital Fabric aims to create a highly sustainable, secure and robust environment for enterprises to accelerate their digital ambitions around the world.

  1. Development of digital enterprise solutions

The alliance also covers the development of digital solutions built on Microsoft Azure to empower enterprises to accelerate their digital transformation and to operate more securely from the enterprise to the edge to the cloud. Key initiatives include advanced analytics for cybersecurity threat intelligence, social robotics with relational AI for digital companions, digital workplace solutions, as well as knowledge discovery and management.

  1. Co-innovation of next-generation technologies

The alliance will also explore research and development of all-photonics network and digital twin computing as part of NTT’s Innovative Optical and Wireless Network (IOWN) concept. The goal is to provide a more natural interaction between people, nature and technology, and to support sustainable growth with an optical-based networking and information processing platform of the future.

Furthermore, NTT and Microsoft are committed to harnessing the power of technology for a more sustainable future. The companies intend to work together to invest in innovative projects that leverage technology to build on NTT’s sustainability initiatives and Microsoft’s AI for Earth grants.

“NTT and Microsoft have a long history of collaboration, and this strategic alliance will further deepen our partnership. We share the same vision of empowering enterprises and society with intelligent and secure technologies for a better and more sustainable future,” said Jun Sawada, President and CEO of NTT.

About NTT

NTT is a global technology and business solutions provider helping clients accelerate growth and innovate digital business models.

We provide digital business consulting, technology and managed services for cybersecurity, applications, workplace, cloud, data center and networks – all supported by our deep industry expertise and innovation.

As a top-five global IT services provider, our diverse teams deliver services in 190+ countries and regions. We serve 85% of the Fortune Global 100 companies and thousands of other clients and communities.

With a 120-year heritage of service and social responsibility we advocate and act for our clients and a sustainable world.

For more information on NTT, visit www.global.ntt.

About Microsoft

Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT” @microsoft) enables digital transformation for the era of an intelligent cloud and an intelligent edge. Its mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.

Media contact

NTT
Public Relations
ntt-cnr-ml@hco.ntt.co.jp

Microsoft Media Relations
WE Communications for Microsoft
(425) 638-7777
rrt@we-worldwide.com

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KPMG expects to invest US$5 billion in digital strategy and expand Microsoft alliance to accelerate professional services transformation

New innovations built on Microsoft cloud and AI technologies help clients achieve greater accuracy and decision-making capabilities, increased productivity, and cost efficiencies.

AMSTELVEEN, Netherlands and REDMOND, Wash. — Dec. 5, 2019 — KPMG and Microsoft Corp. are strengthening their global relationship through a five-year agreement to accelerate digital transformation for KPMG member firms and mutual clients. As part of its announcement to significantly invest in technology, people and innovation,, KPMG is modernizing its workplace using the Microsoft 365 suite of cloud-based collaboration and productivity tools, including Microsoft Teams. KPMG is also utilizing Microsoft Azure and its AI capabilities as the backbone for a new common, global cloud-based platform. The platform will strengthen KPMG’s range of digital offerings with new innovations in cloud-based audit capabilities, tax solutions and risk management. Clients in all sectors, including those in highly regulated industries, benefit from globally consistent and continuous service delivery that enables greater speed of deployment while adhering to industry-leading compliance and security standards.

“Together with KPMG, we’re accelerating digital transformation across industries by bringing the latest advances in cloud, AI and security to highly regulated workloads in tax, audit and advisory,” said Satya Nadella, CEO, Microsoft. “KPMG’s deep industry and process expertise, combined with the power of our trusted cloud — spanning Azure, Dynamics 365 and Microsoft 365 — will bring the best of both organizations together to help customers around the world become more agile in an increasingly complex business environment.”

New business-critical solutions

As organizations expand to new geographies, develop new products and recruit new talent, processes can become increasingly complex and harder to scale. Market forces, such as evolving data protection laws, currency fluctuations and geopolitical tensions, increase the complexity and require a greater responsiveness for systems and tools.

The strong portfolio of KPMG and Microsoft alliance offerings can help address these challenges more quickly by building applications on demand, automating manual processes, and continuously analyzing information to minimize the risk of errors and increase the ability to make smart decisions.

“Our alliance with Microsoft has become a critical component in helping us deliver industry-leading solutions and services to clients. Our significant multiyear investment continues to empower our people to work more efficiently and collaboratively while maximizing the power of a workforce that blends people and technology,” said Bill Thomas, Global Chairman, KPMG International. “By harnessing Microsoft’s intelligent and trusted cloud, we aim to help clients be at the forefront of change and better prepared for a digital-first future.”

Combining industry expertise with advanced technology

Through a jointly funded incubator, KPMG and Microsoft are co-developing a robust portfolio of solutions and managed services in the areas of cloud business transformation, intelligent business applications and smart workplace solutions.

For example, KPMG in the U.S. and Microsoft are working together to bring the power of Azure to the healthcare and life sciences industries. This collaboration is enabling organizations within this highly regulated sector to maximize their clinical, operational and financial performance with an easily scalable solution that helps improve deployment speed, accelerate ROI and increase data-driven insights.

In addition, KPMG in the Netherlands has developed risk management, compliance and internal audit solutions that leverage discovery tools to enable the digitization of risk and compliance processes across domains such as finance, legal and IT. Designed by KPMG and built on Microsoft Azure, the solutions provide seamless and cost-efficient policy and controls automation, putting smart analytics directly in the hands of business and IT operators so they can make timely, corrective actions when deviations occur.

Smart audit platform

KPMG, with the launch of its smart audit platform KPMG Clara in 2017, became the first of the Big Four to take its audit workflow to the cloud. Based on Microsoft Azure, KPMG Clara is an automated, agile, intelligent and scalable platform that allows KPMG professionals to work smarter, bringing powerful data and analytics capabilities into one interface, while allowing clients to interact on a real-time basis with the audit process.

By enriching the audit mandate with AI, KPMG enables its professionals to make decisions based on real-time data. This further reinforces KPMG’s commitment to maintaining and enhancing audit quality and building a future where technology continually enriches the audit through the introduction of new digital advancements.

KPMG Clara will integrate with Microsoft Teams, providing a platform for audit professionals to centrally manage and securely share audit files, track audit-related activities, and communicate using chat, voice and video meetings. This helps simplify the auditors’ workflow, enabling them to stay in sync throughout the entire process and drive continuous communication with the client.

Empowering workforce transformation

Through its common, global cloud platform, KPMG will create a set of cloud-based capabilities ranging from hosting infrastructure based on Microsoft Azure to more than 50 advanced solutions, such as AI, cyber and robotic process automation (RPA). KPMG will further empower its global workforce of over 207,000 employees across 153 countries with Microsoft 365, including Teams, to better meet the needs of clients through increased collaboration, improved productivity and data-driven insights. In addition, more than 30,000 KPMG professionals across 17 member firms have been equipped with Dynamics 365, a suite of powerful customer relationship applications.

To read more about the KPMG and Microsoft alliance, visit the Microsoft Transform blog.

About KPMG International 

KPMG is a global network of professional services firms providing Audit, Tax and Advisory services. We operate in 153 countries and territories and have 207,000 people working in member firms around the world. The independent member firms of the KPMG network are affiliated with KPMG International Cooperative (“KPMG International”), a Swiss entity. Each KPMG firm is a legally distinct and separate entity and describes itself as such.

About Microsoft

Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT” @microsoft) enables digital transformation for the era of an intelligent cloud and an intelligent edge. Its mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.

For more information, press only:
Microsoft Media Relations, WE Communications for Microsoft, (425) 638-7777,
rrt@we-worldwide.com
Mark Walters, KPMG International, (646) 943-2115, mgwalters@kpmg.com

Note to editors: For more information, news and perspectives from Microsoft, please visit the Microsoft News Center at http://news.microsoft.com. Web links, telephone numbers and titles were correct at time of publication but may have changed. For additional assistance, journalists and analysts may contact Microsoft’s Rapid Response Team or other appropriate contacts listed at http://news.microsoft.com/microsoft-public-relations-contacts.

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AT&T integrating 5G with Microsoft cloud to enable next-generation solutions on the edge

DALLAS and REDMOND, Wash. — Nov. 26, 2019 — Microsoft and AT&T are ramping up innovation in the early days of their strategic alliance announced in July. One area of focus is aimed at enabling new 5G, cloud and edge computing solutions to drive enterprise capabilities for companies around the world.

The companies are opening select preview availability for Network Edge Compute (NEC) technology, which weaves Microsoft Azure cloud services into AT&T network edge locations closer to customers. This means AT&T’s software-defined and virtualized 5G core – what the company calls the Network Cloud – is now capable of delivering Azure services. NEC will initially be available for a limited set of select customers in Dallas. Next year, Los Angeles and Atlanta are targeted for select customer availability.

From making the world’s first 5G millimeter wave browsing session on a commercial 5G device to groundbreaking commercial installations in healthcare, manufacturing and entertainment, AT&T has proved itself to be a leader in 5G. The company recently activated an industry-first 400-gigabit connection between Dallas and Atlanta to support video, gaming and other 5G needs. AT&T serves parts of 21 cities with its 5G network using millimeter wave spectrum (5G+) and plans to offer nationwide 5G in the first half of 2020.

“The first smartphones on 3G networks introduced the idea of mobile apps over a decade ago. A few years later, 4G LTE made it feasible to connect those devices faster to cloud applications to stream videos, hail rides, and broadcast content to the world,” said Mo Katibeh, EVP and chief marketing officer, AT&T Business. “With our 5G and edge computing, AT&T is collaborating uniquely with Microsoft to marry their cloud capabilities with our network to create lower latency between the device and the cloud that will unlock new, future scenarios for consumers and businesses. We’ve said all year developers and businesses will be the early 5G adopters, and this puts both at the forefront of this revolution.”

This innovation points to a future where high-end augmented reality glasses are as thin and stylish as a standard pair of eyeglasses, lightweight drones can track themselves and thousands of nearby companions in near-real time, and autonomous cars have access to nearly-instant data processing capabilities without having to install a mini data center in the trunk.

“We are helping AT&T light up a wide range of unique solutions powered by Microsoft’s cloud, both for its business and our mutual customers in a secure and trusted way,” said Corey Sanders, corporate vice president, Microsoft Solutions. “The collaboration reaches across AT&T, bringing the hyperscale of Microsoft Azure together with AT&T’s network to innovate with 5G and edge computing across every industry.”

 5G and edge for gaming, drones, and more

One example of how edge computing can unlock new scenarios and experiences is in mobile gaming, where gaming company Game Cloud Network has created a unique 5G game that’s hosted on the network edge with Microsoft Azure. Game Cloud Network is a pioneer in developing game-based brand engagement and a customer of AT&T. The company is now showcasing its new “Tap & Field” game, which utilizes Microsoft’s Azure PlayFab services. In the game, users race each other in near-real time via this track-and-field-style game, enabled by the speed of 5G-connected devices.

“5G gaming provides consumers with the best of both worlds: highly-immersive experiences on lightweight mobile devices,” said Aaron Baker, chief executive officer, Game Cloud Network. “AT&T and Microsoft are building the perfect environment for game developers to create amazing new possibilities for gamers. 5G and edge computing have the potential to radically change how we play together and launch new business opportunities for brands and game publishers.”

Through AT&T Foundry, AT&T and Microsoft are exploring proofs-of-concept including augmented and virtual reality scenarios and drones. For example, both companies continue to work with Israeli startup Vorpal, helping its VigilAir product track drones in commercial zones, airports, and other areas with near-instant positioning. The companies also recently demoed using Microsoft HoloLens to provide 3D schematic overlays for technicians making repairs to airplanes and other industrial equipment.

Progress toward a “public-cloud first company” and more

Microsoft is also helping AT&T Communications become a “public-cloud first” company by migrating most non-network workloads to the public cloud by 2024, and this migration to Azure is already underway. Another important part of AT&T’s strategy is to empower much of its workforce with Microsoft 365. This includes cloud-connected Office apps on Windows 10, and modern collaboration with Microsoft Teams, SharePoint and OneDrive. AT&T has begun rolling out these solutions to tens of thousands of employees to help drive a culture of modern work.

AT&T and Microsoft will have more to share over the coming months and years as this unique alliance continues to evolve and expand. The two companies will both create and adopt new technologies to develop tools, commercial services and consumer applications that benefit everyone.

About AT&T

AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) is a diversified, global leader in telecommunications, media and entertainment, and technology. It executes in the market under four operating units. WarnerMedia is a leading media and entertainment company that creates and distributes premium and popular content to global audiences through its consumer brands including: HBO, Warner Bros., TNT, TBS, truTV, CNN, DC Entertainment, New Line, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, Turner Classic Movies and others. AT&T Communications provides more than 100 million U.S. consumers with entertainment and communications experiences across TV, mobile and broadband services. Plus, it serves nearly 3 million business customers with high-speed, highly secure connectivity and smart solutions. AT&T Latin America provides pay-TV services across 11 countries and territories in Latin America and the Caribbean, and is the fastest growing wireless provider in Mexico, serving consumers and businesses. Xandr provides marketers with innovative and relevant advertising solutions for consumers around premium video content and digital advertising through its AppNexus platform.

AT&T products and services are provided or offered by subsidiaries and affiliates of AT&T Inc. under the AT&T brand and not by AT&T Inc. Additional information is available at about.att.com. © 2019 AT&T Intellectual Property. All rights reserved. AT&T, the Globe logo and other marks are trademarks and service marks of AT&T Intellectual Property and/or AT&T affiliated companies. All other marks contained herein are the property of their respective owners.

Cautionary Language Concerning Forward-Looking Statements

 Information set forth in this news release contains financial estimates and other forward-looking statements that are subject to risks and uncertainties, and actual results might differ materially. A discussion of factors that may affect future results is contained in AT&T’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. AT&T disclaims any obligation to update and revise statements contained in this news release based on new information or otherwise.

This news release may contain certain non-GAAP financial measures. Reconciliations between the non-GAAP financial measures and the GAAP financial measures are available on the company’s website at https://investors.att.com.

About Microsoft

Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT” @microsoft) enables digital transformation for the era of an intelligent cloud and an intelligent edge. Its mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.

For more information, contact:

Clay Owen
AT&T Corporate Communications
Phone: (404) 538-0124
Email: clay.owen@att.com

Microsoft Media Relations
WE Communications for Microsoft
Phone: (425) 638-7777
Email: rrt@we-worldwide.com

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Microsoft Azure now available from new cloud datacenter regions in Norway

Norway city skyline and waterfront.

Today, we’re announcing the availability of Microsoft Azure from our new cloud datacenter regions in Norway, marking a major milestone as the first global cloud provider to deliver enterprise-grade services in the country. These new regions demonstrate our ongoing investment to help enable digital transformation and advance intelligent cloud and intelligent edge computing technologies across both commercial and public sectors.

DNB, Equinor, Lånekassen, and Posten are just a few of the customers and partners leveraging our cloud services to accelerate innovation and increase computing resources. This new offering of Microsoft Azure delivers scalable, highly available, and resilient cloud services to Norwegian companies and organizations while meeting data residency, security, and compliance needs.

Our President, Brad Smith, recently visited Norway to celebrate this important launch and to discuss how vital trust is for those we serve, not only to help bring forth innovation but to ensure our customers are protected.

“Our customers have entrusted us to protect, operate, and develop our platform in a way that keeps their data private and secure. This is an immense responsibility that we can’t just claim, but a responsibility that we must earn every single day.” Brad Smith, President, Microsoft

Accelerating digital transformation in Norway

As we further our expansion commitment, we consider the demand for locally delivered cloud services and the opportunity for digital transformation in the market. Azure enables our customers and partners to increase their utilization of public cloud services and accelerate investments into private and hybrid cloud solutions. Norwegian organizations can now embrace these benefits to further innovation and build digital businesses at scale. Below are just a few of the customers and partners embracing Microsoft Azure in Norway.

The Norwegian banking industry is recognized for its rapid technology adoption, digitalizing the services that build the best products for customers. As Norway’s largest financial services group, DNB Group is a major operator in several industries, for which they also have a Nordic or international strategy. With Microsoft Azure, DNB will be able to migrate to the cloud in accordance with Norwegian data handling regulations to modernize, gain operational efficiency, and secure the best experience for its customers. 

“The possibility of data residency was a decisive factor in choosing Microsoft’s datacenter regions. Now we are looking forward to using the cloud to modernize and achieve efficiency and agility in order to ensure the best experience for our customers.” – Alf Otterstad, Executive Vice President, Group IT, DNB

Equinor, a broad energy company developing oil, gas, wind, and solar energy in more than 30 countries worldwide, has chosen Microsoft Azure to enable its digital transformation journey through a seven-year consumption and development agreement. With this strategic partnership, anchored in cloud-enabled innovation, and by moving its whole system portfolio to Azure, Equinor is aiming to achieve a more cost-efficient, safer, and more reliable operation. Equinor will utilize a variety of cloud services like machine learning and advanced analytics to improve performance, decrease costs, and increase safety. Through the partnership with Microsoft and leveraging capabilities within Azure, Equinor seeks to be a leader in the transformation of the energy industry worldwide and a growing force in renewables.

“Equinor’s ambition is to become a global digital leader within our industry. We have a long history of innovation and technology development. The strategic partnership will, through cloud services, involve development of the next-generation IT workplace, extended business application platforms, and mixed-reality solutions.” Åshild Hanne Larsen, CIO and SVP, Corporate IT Equinor

Lånekassen, the Norwegian State Educational Loan Fund, has over 1.1 million customers, composed of former and current students. By moving to Azure, it seeks to develop new and transformative citizen services, based on cognitive and analytical technologies. Lånekassen’s purpose is to make education possible, and to provide the Norwegian workforce with relevant competences. It aims to strengthen student funding as well as maintain and increase the already high level of automatized customer services and application processes.

“It has been a priority for Lånekassen to focus on how we can utilize new technology to deliver an even better service for our students and manage our student financing schemes even more efficiently. As we move our core solutions into the cloud, it will give us increased opportunities to innovate. We have already had great success with using machine learning, and we are now looking forward to optimizing our operations further.” Nina Schanke Funnemark, CEO, Lånekassen

Posten Norge AS has chosen to use the Microsoft Azure platform to meet ever-changing market demands by modernizing some of its existing applications estate and creating new services for its customers and partners. Posten’s next-generation logistics system will provide its workforce with new digital toolsets to deliver even better customer experiences.

“Posten’s vision is to make everyday life simpler and the world smaller. With this vision, we aim to simplify and increase the value of trade and communication for people and businesses in the Nordic region. With the opening of Norwegian datacenter regions, we hope to accelerate and fuel our vision further.” Arne Erik Berntzen, CIO, Posten AS

Bringing the complete cloud to Norway

The new cloud regions in Norway connect with Microsoft’s 54 regions via our global network, one of the largest and most innovative on the planet, spanning more than 130,000 miles of terrestrial fiber and subsea cable systems to deliver services to customers. Microsoft brings the global cloud closer to home for Norwegian organizations and citizens through our transatlantic system Marea, the highest-capacity subsea cable to cross the Atlantic.

The new cloud regions in Norway are targeted to expand in 2020 with Office 365, one of the world’s leading cloud-based productivity solutions, and Dynamics 365 and Power Platform, the next generation of intelligent business applications and tools.

Learn more about the new cloud services in Norway and the availability of Azure regions and services across the globe.

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Check out Azure’s new high-performance computing offerings at Supercomputing 19 in Denver

For more than three decades, the researchers and practitioners that make up the high-performance computing (HPC) community will come together for their annual event. More than ten thousand strong in attendance, the global community will converge on Denver, Colorado to advance the state-of-the-art in HPC. The theme for Supercomputing ‘19 is “HPC is now” – a theme that resonates strongly with the Azure HPC team given the breakthrough capabilities we’ve been working to deliver to customers.

Azure is upending preconceptions of what the cloud can do for HPC by delivering supercomputer-grade technologies, innovative services, and performance that rivals or exceeds some of the most optimized on-premises deployments. We’re working to ensure Azure is paving the way for a new era of innovation, research, and productivity.

At the show, we’ll showcase Azure HPC and partner solutions, benchmarking white papers and customer case studies – here’s an overview of what we’re delivering.

  • Massive Scale MPI – Solve problems at the limits of your imagination, not the limits of other public cloud’s commodity network. Azure supports your tightly coupled workloads up to 80,000 cores per job featuring the latest HPC-grade CPUs and ultra-low latency InfiniBand hDR networking.
  • Accelerated Compute – Choose from the latest GPUs, field programmable gate array (FPGAs), and now IPUs for maximum performance and flexibility across your HPC, AI, and visualization workloads.
  • Apps and Services – Leverage advanced software and storage for every scenario: from hybrid cloud to cloud migration, from POCs to production, from optimized persistent deployments to agile environment reconfiguration. Azure HPC software has you covered.

Azure HPC unveils new offerings

  • The preview of new second gen AMD EPYC based HBv2 Azure Virtual Machines for HPC – HBv2 virtual machines (VMs) deliver supercomputer-class performance, message passing interface (MPI) scalability, and cost efficiency for a variety of real-world HPC workloads. HBv2 VMs feature 120 non-hyperthreaded CPU cores from the new AMD EPYC™ 7742 processor, up to 45 percent more memory bandwidth than x86 alternatives, and up to 4 teraFLOPS of double-precision compute. Leveraging the cloud’s first deployment of 200 Gigabit HDR InfiniBand from Mellanox, HBv2 VMs support up to 80,000 cores per MPI job to deliver workload scalability and performance that rivals some of the world’s largest and most powerful bare metal supercomputers. HBv2 is not just one of the most powerful HPC servers Azure has ever made, but also one of the most affordable. HBv2 VMs are available now.
  • The preview of new NVv4 Azure Virtual Machines for virtual desktops – NVv4 VMs enhance Azure’s portfolio of Windows Virtual Desktops with the introduction of the new AMD EPYC™ 7742 processor and the AMD RADEON INSTINCT™ MI25 GPUs. NVv4 gives customers more choice and flexibility by offering partitionable GPUs. Customers can select a virtual GPU size that is right for their workloads and price points, with as little as 2GB of dedicated GPU frame buffer for an entry-level desktop in the cloud, up to an entire MI25 GPU with 16GB of HBM2 memory to provide powerful workstation-class experience. NVv4 VMs are available now in preview.
  • The preview NDv2 Azure GPU Virtual Machines – NDv2 VMs are the latest, fastest, and most powerful addition to Azure GPU family, and are designed specifically for the most demanding distributed HPC, artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning (ML) workloads. These VMs feature 8 NVIDIA Tesla V100 NVLink interconnected GPUs each with 32 GB of HBM2 memory, 40 non-hyperthreaded cores from the Intel Xeon Platinum 8168 processor, and 672 GiB of system memory. NDv2-series virtual machines also now feature 100 Gigabit EDR InfiniBand from Mellanox with support for standard OFED drivers and all MPI types and versions. NDv2-series virtual machines are ready for the most demanding machine learning models and distributed AI training workloads with out-of-box NCCL2 support for InfiniBand- allowing for easy scale-up to supercomputer-sized clusters that can run workloads utilizing CUDA, including popular ML tools and  frameworks. NDv2 VMs are available now in preview.
  • Azure HPC Cache now available – When it comes to file performance, the new Azure HPC Cache delivers flexibility and scale. Use this service right from the Azure Portal to connect high-performance computing workloads to on-premises network-attached storage or run Azure Blob as the portable operating system interface.
  • The preview of new NDv3 Azure Virtual Machines for AI –The preview of NDv3 VMs are Azure’s first offering featuring the Graphcore IPU, designed from the ground up for AI training and inference workloads. The IPU novel architecture enables high-throughput processing of neural networks even at small batch sizes, which accelerates training convergence and enables short inference latency. With the launch of NDv3, Azure is bringing the latest in AI silicon innovation to the public cloud and giving customers additional choice in how they develop and run their massive scale AI training and inference workloads. NDv3 VMs feature 16 IPU chips, each with over 1200 cores and over 7000 independent threads and a large 300MB on-chip memory that delivers up to 45 TB/s of memory bandwidth. The 8 Graphcore accelerator cards are connected through a high-bandwidth, low-latency interconnect enabling large models to be trained in a model-parallel (including pipelining) or data parallel way. An NDv3 VM also includes 40 cores of CPU, backed by Intel Xeon Platinum 8168 processors and 768 GB of memory. Customers can develop applications for IPU technology using Graphcore’s Poplar® software development toolkit, and leverage the IPU-compatible versions of popular machine learning frameworks. NDv3 VMs are now available in preview.
  • NP Azure Virtual Machines for HPC coming soon – Our Alveo U250 FPGA-Accelerated VMs offer from 1-to-4 Xilinx U250 FPGA devices as an Azure VM- backed by powerful Xeon Platinum CPU cores, and fast NVMe-based storage. The NP series will enable true lift-and-shift and single-target development of FPGA applications for a general purpose cloud. Based on a board and software ecosystem customers can buy today, RTL and high-level language designs targeted at Xilinx’s U250 card and SDAccel 2019.1 runtime will run on Azure VMs just as they do on-premises and on the edge, enabling the bleeding edge of accelerator development to harness the power of the cloud without additional development costs.

  • Azure CycleCloud 7.9 Update We are excited to announce the release of Azure CycleCloud 7.9. Version 7.9 focuses on improved operational clarity and control, in particular for large MPI workloads on Azure’s unique InfiniBand interconnected infrastructure. Among many other improvements, this release includes:

    • Improved error detection and reporting user interface (UI) that greatly simplify diagnosing VM issues.

    • ​Node time-to-live capabilities via a “Keep-alive” function, allowing users to build and debug MPI applications that are not affected by autoscaling policies.

    • VM placement group management through the UI that provides users direct control into node topology for latency sensitive applications.

    • Support for Ephemeral OS disks, which improve virtual machines and virtual machines scale sets start-up performance and cost.

  • Microsoft HPC Pack 2016, Update 3 – released in August, Update 3 includes significant performance and reliability improvements, support for Windows Server 2019 in Azure, a new VM extension for deploying Azure IaaS Windows nodes, and many other features, fixes, and improvements.

In all of our new offerings and alongside our partners, Azure HPC aims to consistently offer the latest in capabilities for HPC oriented use cases. Together with our partners Intel, AMD, Mellanox, NVIDIA, Graphcore, Xilinx, and many more, we look forward to seeing you next week in Denver!

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Microsoft and Salesforce expand strategic partnership to accelerate customer success

Salesforce names Microsoft Azure as its public cloud provider for Salesforce Marketing Cloud to help customers scale and grow; new integration between Salesforce Sales and Service Clouds with Microsoft Teams will boost productivity

REDMOND, Wash., and SAN FRANCISCO — Nov. 14, 2019 — Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) and Salesforce (NYSE: CRM) on Thursday announced plans to expand their strategic partnership to help customers meet the evolving needs of their businesses and boost team productivity. Salesforce has named Microsoft Azure as its public cloud provider for Salesforce Marketing Cloud. Salesforce will also build a new integration that connects Salesforce’s Sales Cloud and Service Cloud with Microsoft Teams.

Salesforce and Microsoft logos
“At Salesforce, we’re relentlessly focused on driving trust and success for our customers,” said Marc Benioff and Keith Block, co-CEOs, Salesforce. “We’re excited to expand our partnership with Microsoft and bring together the leading CRM with Azure and Teams to deliver incredible customer experiences.”

“In a world where every company is becoming a digital company, we want to enable every customer and partner to build experiences on our leading platforms,” said Satya Nadella, CEO, Microsoft. “By bringing together the power of Azure and Microsoft Teams with Salesforce, our aim is to help businesses harness the power of the Microsoft Cloud to better serve customers.”

Comments on the news

“Marriott has more than 7,200 properties spanning 134 countries and territories, so driving efficiency and collaboration is critical,” said Brian King, global officer, Digital, Distribution, Revenue Strategy, and Global Sales, Marriott International. “The combination of Salesforce and Microsoft enables our teams to work better together to enhance the guest experience at every touchpoint.”

“With 400 brands and teams in 190 countries, we are always looking for ways to scale more efficiently and strengthen collaboration,” said Jane Moran, chief technology advisor, Unilever. “The powerful combination of Salesforce and Microsoft enables us to be more productive and connect with each other and our customers like never before.”

Salesforce names Microsoft Azure as its public cloud provider for marketing cloud

With Salesforce Marketing Cloud, marketers are empowered to know their customers, personalize marketing with Einstein, engage with them across any channel, and analyze the impact to improve campaign performance. Bringing its Marketing Cloud workload to Azure, Salesforce joins the over 95% of Fortune 500 companies benefitting from an Azure infrastructure offering the most global regions of any cloud provider.

Through this partnership, Salesforce will move its Marketing Cloud to Azure — unlocking new growth opportunities for customers. By moving to Azure, Salesforce will be able to optimize Marketing Cloud’s performance as customer demand scales. This will reduce customer onboarding times and enable customers to expand globally more quickly with Azure’s global footprint and help address local data security, privacy and compliance requirements.

​Salesforce and Microsoft Teams integration will boost productivity

​As teamwork becomes a driving force in the workplace, people want to bring workflows and frequently used apps into their collaboration workspace environments. Sales and customer service are highly collaborative, team-centric functions, and many companies actively use both Salesforce CRM and Microsoft Teams. As part of this agreement, Salesforce will build a new integration that give sales and service users the ability to search, view, and share Salesforce records directly within Teams. The new Teams integration for Salesforce Sales and Service Clouds will be made available in late 2020.

Building on a commitment to customer success

These new integrations will build on existing solutions that enable mutual customers to be more productive, including the hundreds of thousands of monthly active users using Salesforce’s Microsoft Outlook integration to create, communicate and collaborate.

​About Salesforce​

Salesforce is the global leader in Customer Relationship Management (CRM), bringing companies closer to their customers in the digital age. Founded in 1999, Salesforce enables companies of every size and industry to take advantage of powerful technologies—cloud, mobile, social, internet of things, artificial intelligence, voice and blockchain—to create a 360° view of their customers. For more information about Salesforce (NYSE: CRM), visit: www.salesforce.com.

About Microsoft

Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT” @microsoft) enables digital transformation for the era of an intelligent cloud and an intelligent edge. Its mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.

For more information, press only:

Microsoft Media Relations, WE Communications for Microsoft, (425) 638-7777, rrt@we-worldwide.com

Stephanie Barnes, Salesforce PR, (415) 722-0883, stephanie.barnes@salesforce.com

Note to editors: For more information, news and perspectives from Microsoft, please visit the Microsoft News Center at http://news.microsoft.com. Web links, telephone numbers and titles were correct at time of publication but may have changed. For additional assistance, journalists and analysts may contact Microsoft’s Rapid Response Team or other appropriate contacts listed at http://news.microsoft.com/microsoft-public-relations-contacts.

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Allianz partners with Microsoft to digitally transform the insurance industry

Allianz and Microsoft to reimagine the insurance industry experience with Azure to streamline insurance processes; Microsoft will partner with Syncier, the B2B2X insurtech founded by Allianz, to offer customized insurance platform solutions and related services

Jean-Philippe Courtois, EVP and president, Microsoft Global Sales, Marketing & Operations and Christof Mascher, COO and member of the Board of Management of Allianz SE
Jean-Philippe Courtois, EVP and president, Microsoft Global Sales, Marketing & Operations (left) and Christof Mascher, COO and member of the Board of Management of Allianz SE (right). Source: allianz.com

MUNICH, Germany, and REDMOND, Wash. — Nov. 14, 2019 — On Thursday, Allianz SE and Microsoft Corp. announced a strategic partnership focused on digitally transforming the insurance industry, making the insurance process easier while creating a better experience for insurance companies and their customers. Through the strategic partnership, Allianz will move core pieces of its global insurance platform, Allianz Business System (ABS), to Microsoft’s Azure cloud and will open-source parts of the solution’s core to improve and expand capabilities.

Syncier will offer a configurable version of the solution called ABS Enterprise Edition to insurance providers as a service, allowing them to benefit from one of the most advanced and comprehensive insurance platforms in the industry, reducing costs and centralizing their insurance portfolio management. This will increase efficiencies across all lines of insurance business, resulting in better experiences through tailored customer service and simplified product offerings.

“Teaming up with Microsoft and leveraging Azure’s secure and trusted cloud platform will support us in digitalizing the insurance industry,” said Christof Mascher, COO and member of the Board of Management of Allianz SE. “Through this partnership, Allianz and Syncier strive to offer the most advanced Insurance as a Service solutions on Microsoft Azure. The ABS Enterprise Edition is an exciting opportunity, both for larger insurers needing to replace their legacy IT, and smaller players — such as insurtechs — looking for a scalable insurance platform.”

“Allianz is setting the standard for insurance solutions globally,” said Jean-Philippe Courtois, EVP and president, Microsoft Global Sales, Marketing & Operations. “Together, Microsoft and Allianz are offering a solution that combines Allianz’s deep knowledge of the insurance sector with Microsoft’s trusted Azure cloud platform. By delivering an open-source, cloud-based insurance platform and software application marketplace, we will support innovation and transformation across this sector.”

Syncier’s ABS Enterprise Edition can handle insurance processes across all lines of business: property and casualty, life, health, and assistance. It can be customized for any insurance company, country and regulatory requirements. Insurers, brokers and agents adopting the platform can service clients and manage entire portfolios end to end in one system, gaining a unique 360-degree view of each client and the business.

To accelerate industry innovation, Syncier will also offer an Azure cloud-based marketplace for ready-made software applications and services tailored to the insurance sector. Such solutions could include, for example, customer service chatbots or AI-based fraud detection. The marketplace enables insurance providers to easily and quickly implement the available solutions in a plug-and-play manner.

Allianz uses ABS globally as a platform for all lines of business and along with Microsoft is committed to supporting the ABS Enterprise Edition long term as an industry solution. Today, ABS handles around 60 million insurance policies in 19 countries and is being rolled out to all Allianz entities.

About Allianz

The Allianz Group is one of the world’s leading insurers and asset managers with more than 92 million retail and corporate customers. Allianz customers benefit from a broad range of personal and corporate insurance services, ranging from property, life and health insurance to assistance services to credit insurance and global business insurance. Allianz is one of the world’s largest investors, managing around 729 billion euros on behalf of its insurance customers. Furthermore, our asset managers PIMCO and Allianz Global Investors manage more than 1.5 trillion euros of third-party assets. Thanks to our systematic integration of ecological and social criteria in our business processes and investment decisions, we hold the leading position for insurers in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index. In 2018, over 142,000 employees in more than 70 countries achieved total revenues of 132 billion euros and an operating profit of 11.5 billion euros for the group. For more information on Syncier, visit www.syncier.com.

About Microsoft

Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT” @microsoft) enables digital transformation for the era of an intelligent cloud and an intelligent edge. Its mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.

For more information, press only:

Microsoft Media Relations, WE Communications for Microsoft, (425) 638-7777, rrt@we-worldwide.com

Gregor Wills, Allianz, +49 89 3800 61313, gregor.wills@allianz.com

Note to editors: For more information, news and perspectives from Microsoft, please visit the Microsoft News Center at http://news.microsoft.com. Web links, telephone numbers and titles were correct at time of publication but may have changed. For additional assistance, journalists and analysts may contact Microsoft’s Rapid Response Team or other appropriate contacts listed at http://news.microsoft.com/microsoft-public-relations-contacts.

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Microsoft and Nokia collaborate to accelerate digital transformation and Industry 4.0 for communications service providers and enterprises

Companies announce their first joint solutions combining Microsoft cloud, AI and machine learning expertise with Nokia’s leadership across mission-critical networking and communications

REDMOND, Wash., and ESPOO, Finland Nov. 5, 2019 Microsoft and Nokia today announced a strategic collaboration to accelerate transformation and innovation across industries with cloud, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Internet of Things (IoT). By bringing together Microsoft cloud solutions and Nokia’s expertise in mission-critical networking, the companies are uniquely positioned to help enterprises and communications service providers (CSPs) transform their businesses. As Microsoft’s Azure, Azure IoT, Azure AI and Machine Learning solutions combine with Nokia’s LTE/5G-ready private wireless solutions, IP, SD-WAN, and IoT connectivity offerings, the companies will drive industrial digitalization and automation across enterprises, and enable CSPs to offer new services to enterprise customers.

BT is the first global communications service provider to offer its enterprise customers a managed service that integrates Microsoft Azure cloud and Nokia SD-WAN solutions. BT customers can access this through a customer automated delegated rights service, which enables BT to manage both the customer Azure vWAN and the unique Agile Connect SD-WAN, based on Nokia’s Nuage SD-WAN 2.0.

“Bringing together Microsoft’s expertise in intelligent cloud solutions and Nokia’s strength in building business and mission-critical networks will unlock new connectivity and automation scenarios,” said Jason Zander, executive vice president, Microsoft Azure. “We’re excited about the opportunities this will create for our joint customers across industries.”

“We are thrilled to unite Nokia’s mission-critical networks with Microsoft’s cloud solutions,” said Kathrin Buvac, President of Nokia Enterprise and Chief Strategy Officer. “Together, we will accelerate the digital transformation journey towards Industry 4.0, driving economic growth and productivity for both enterprises and service providers.”

The cloud and IoT have ushered in the fourth industrial revolution, or Industry 4.0, wherein enterprises are embracing data to automate and streamline processes across all aspects of their businesses. By joining forces, the two companies are bringing solutions to market that will simplify and accelerate this journey for enterprises, as well as enable CSPs to play a key role in helping their customers realize the potential of industrial digitalization and automation while also optimizing and better differentiating their own businesses.

Accelerating digital transformation for enterprises

Microsoft and Nokia are partnering to help accelerate digital transformation for enterprises by offering connectivity and Azure IoT solutions that unlock connected scenarios across multiple industries including digital factories, smart cities, warehouses, healthcare settings, and transportation hubs such as ports, airports and more.

The Nokia Digital Automation Cloud (Nokia DAC) 5G-ready industrial-grade private wireless broadband solution with on-premise Azure elements will enable a wide variety of secure industrial automation solutions that require more reliable connectivity, efficient coverage and better mobility than traditional Wi-Fi networks provide. For example, connected smart tools and machines on manufacturing floors that enable increased productivity, flexibility and safety for workers, or autonomous vehicles and robots in industrial environments that improve automation, efficiency and overall safety.

Enabling new enterprise services offered by service providers

Nokia’s Nuage SD-WAN 2.0 solution now enables service providers to offer integration with Microsoft Azure Virtual WAN for branch to cloud connectivity, with the companies planning to offer more options for branch internet connectivity in 2020. By automating branch and hybrid WAN connectivity, enterprises will have simplified, faster access to cloud applications such as Office 365, integrated security from branch-to-branch and branch-to-Azure and reduced risk of configuration errors causing security or connectivity issues.

Furthermore, the companies are integrating Nokia’s Worldwide IoT Network Grid (WING) with Azure IoT Central to make the onboarding, deployment, management and servicing of IoT solutions seamless. This integration provides CSPs with the opportunity to offer their enterprises a single platform including vertical solutions to enable secure connected IoT services, such as asset tracking and machine monitoring on a national or global scale. Enterprises will be able to use Azure IoT Central and partner solutions for faster and easier enablement and implementation of their IoT applications together with Nokia’s IoT connectivity solutions.

Driving digital transformation for CSPs

Microsoft and Nokia are collaborating to host Nokia’s Analytics, Virtualization and Automation (AVA) cognitive services solutions on Azure. These AI solutions will enable CSPs to move out of private data centers and into the Azure cloud to realize cost savings and transform operations for 5G. Predictive Video Analytics is an example of a joint solution that will ensure optimal video experiences for CSP subscribers, improving reliability by up to 60 percent.

About Microsoft

Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT” @microsoft) enables digital transformation for the era of an intelligent cloud and an intelligent edge. Its mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.

About Nokia

We create the technology to connect the world. We develop and deliver the industry’s only end-to-end portfolio of network equipment, software, services and licensing that is available globally. Our customers include communications service providers whose combined networks support 6.1 billion subscriptions, as well as enterprises in the private and public sector that use our network portfolio to increase productivity and enrich lives.

Through our research teams, including the world-renowned Nokia Bell Labs, we are leading the world to adopt end-to-end 5G networks that are faster, more secure and capable of revolutionizing lives, economies and societies. Nokia adheres to the highest ethical business standards as we create technology with social purpose, quality and integrity. www.nokia.com

For more information, press only:

Microsoft Media Relations, WE Communications for Microsoft, (425) 638-7777, rrt@we-worldwide.com

Nokia Communications, +358 10 448 4900, press.services@nokia.com

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Microsoft’s new approach to hybrid: Azure services when and where customers need them

As business computing needs have grown more complex and sophisticated, many enterprises have discovered they need multiple systems to meet various requirements – a mix of technology environments in multiple locations, known as hybrid IT or hybrid cloud.

Technology vendors have responded with an array of services and platforms – public clouds, private clouds and the growing edge computing model – but there hasn’t necessarily been a cohesive strategy to get them to work together.

We got here in an ad hoc fashion,” said Erik Vogel, global vice president for customer experience for HPE GreenLake at Hewlett Packard Enterprise.Customers didn’t have a strategic model to work from.

Instead, he said, various business owners in the same company may have bought different software as a service (SaaS) applications, or developers may have independently started leveraging Amazon Web Services, Azure or Google Cloud Platform to develop a set of applications.

At its Ignite conference this week in Orlando, Florida, Microsoft announced its solution to such cloud sprawl. The company has launched a preview of Azure Arc, which offers Azure services and management to customers on other clouds or infrastructure, including those offered by Amazon and Google.

John JG Chirapurath, general manager for Azure data, blockchain and artificial intelligence at Microsoft, said the new service is both an acknowledgement of, and a response to, the reality that many companies face today. They are running various parts of their businesses on different cloud platforms, and they also have a lot of data stored on their own new or legacy systems.

In all those cases, he said, these customers are telling Microsoft they could use the benefits of Azure cloud innovation whether or not their data is stored in the cloud, and they could benefit from having the same Azure capabilities – including security safeguards – available to them across their entire portfolio.

We are offering our customers the ability to take their services, untethered from Azure, and run them inside their own datacenter or in another cloud,” Chirapurath said.

Microsoft says Azure Arc builds on years of work the company has done to serve hybrid cloud needs. For example, Azure Resource Manager, released in 2014, was created with the vision that it would manage resources outside of Azure, including in companies’ internal servers and on other clouds.

That flexibility can help customers operate their services on a mix of clouds more efficiently, without purchasing new hardware or switching among cloud providers. Companies can use a public cloud to obtain computing power and data storage from an outside vendor, but they can also house critical applications and sensitive data on their own premises in a private cloud or server.

Then there’s edge computing, which stores data where the user is, in between the company and the public cloudfor example, on their customers’ mobile devices or on sensors in smart buildings like hospitals and factories.

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That’s compelling for companies that need to run AI models on systems that aren’t reliably connected to the cloud, or to make computations more quickly than if they had to send large amounts of data to and from the cloud. But it also must work with companies’ cloud-based, internet-connected systems.

“A customer at the edge doesn’t want to use different app models for different environments,” said Mark Russinovich, Azure chief technology officer. “They need apps that span cloud and edge, leveraging the same code and same management constructs.”

Streamlining and standardizing a customer’s IT structure gives developers more time to build applications that produce value for the business instead of managing multiple operating models. And enabling Azure to integrate administrative and compliance needs across the enterprise – automating system updates and security enhancements brings additional savings in time and money.

“You begin to free up people to go work on other projects, which means faster development time, faster time to market,” said HPE’s Vogel. HPE is working with Microsoft on offerings that will complement Azure Arc.

Arpan Shah, general manager of Azure infrastructure, said Azure Arc allows companies to use Azure’s governance tools for their virtual machines, Kubernetes clusters and data across different locations, helping ensure companywide compliance on things like regulations, security, spending policies and auditing tools.

Azure Arc is underpinned in part by Microsoft’s commitment to technologies that customers are using today, including virtual machines, containers and Kubernetes, an open source system for organizing and managing containers. That makes clusters of applications easily portable across a hybrid IT environment – to the cloud, the edge or an internal server.

“It’s easy for a customer to put that container anywhere,” Chirapurath said. “Today, you can keep it here. Tomorrow, you can move it somewhere else.”

Microsoft says these latest Azure updates reflect an ongoing effort to better understand the complex needs of customers trying to manage their Linux and Windows servers, Kubernetes clusters and data across environments.

“This is just the latest wave of this sort of innovation,” Chirapurath said. “We’re really thinking much more expansively about customer needs and meeting them according to how they’d like to run their applications and services.”

Top image: Erik Vogel, global vice president for customer experience for HPE GreenLake at Hewlett Packard Enterprise, with a prototype of memory-driven computing. HPE is working with Microsoft on offerings that will complement Azure Arc. Photo by John Brecher for Microsoft.

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How Microsoft re-envisioned the data warehouse with Azure Synapse Analytics

About four years ago, the Microsoft Azure team began to notice a big problem troubling many of its customers. A mass migration to the cloud was in full swing, as enterprises signed up by the thousands to reap the benefits of flexible, largescale computing and data storage. But the next iteration of that tech revolution, in which companies would use their growing stores of data to get more tangible business benefits, had stalled.

Technology providers, including Microsoft, have built a variety of systems to collect, retrieve and analyze enormous troves of information that would uncover market trends and insights, paving the way toward a new era of improved customer service, innovation and efficiency.

But those systems were built independently by different engineering teams and sold as individual products and services. They weren’t designed to connect with one another, and customers would have to learn how to operate them separately, wasting time, money and precious IT talent.

“Instead of trying to add more features to each of our services, we decided to take a step back and figure out how to bring their core capabilities together to make it easy for customers to collect and analyze all of their increasingly diverse data, to break down data silos and work together more collaboratively,” said Raghu Ramakrishnan, Microsoft’s chief technology officer for data.

At its Ignite conference this week in Orlando, Florida, Microsoft announced the end result of a yearslong effort to address the problem: Azure Synapse Analytics, a new service that merges the capabilities of Azure SQL Data Warehouse with new enhancements such as on-demand query as a service.

Microsoft said this new offering will help customers put their data to work much more quickly, productively and securely by pulling together insights from all data sources, data warehouses and big data analytics systems. And, the company said, with deeper integration between Power BI and Azure Machine Learning, Azure Synapse Analytics can reduce the time required to process and share that data, speeding up the insights that businesses can glean.

What’s more, it will allow many more businesses to take advantage of game-changing technologies like data analytics and artificial intelligence, which are helping scientists to better predict the weather, search engines to better understand people’s intent and workers to more easily handle mundane tasks.

This newest effort to break down data silos also builds on other Microsoft projects, such as the Open Data Initiative and Azure Data Share, which allows you to share data from multiple sources and even other organizations.

Microsoft said Azure Synapse Analytics is also designed to support the increasingly popular DevOps strategy, in which development and operations staff collaborate more closely to create and implement services that work better throughout their lifecycles.

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A learning process

Azure Synapse Analytics is the result of a lot of work, and a little trial and error.

At first, Ramakrishnan said, the team developed highlevel guidelines showing customers how to glue the systems together themselves. But they quickly realized that was too much to ask.

“That required a lot of expertise in the nitty gritty of our platforms,” Ramakrishnan said. Customers made it overwhelmingly clear that we needed to do better.”

So, the company went back to the drawing board and spent an additional two years revamping the heart of its data business, Azure SQL Data Warehouse, which lets customers build, test, deploy and manage applications and services in the cloud.

A breakthrough came when the company realized that customers need to analyze all their data in a single service, without having to copy terabytes of information across various systems to use different analytic capabilities – as has traditionally been the case with data warehouses and data lakes.

With the new offering, customers can use their data analytics engine of choice, such as Apache Spark or SQL, on all their data. That’s true whether it’s structured data, such as rows of numbers on spreadsheets, or unstructured data, such as a collection of social media posts.

This project was risky. It involved deep technical surgery: completely rewriting the guts of the SQL query processing engine to optimize it for the cloud and make it capable of instantly handling big bursts of work as well as very large and diverse datasets.

It also required unprecedented integration among several teams within Microsoft, some of whom would have to make hard choices. Established plans had to be scrapped. Resources earmarked for new features would be redirected to help make the entire system work better.

“In the beginning, the conversations were often heated. But as we got into the flow of it, they became easier. We began to come together,” Ramakrishnan said.

Microsoft also had to make sure that the product would work for any company, regardless of employees’ technical expertise.

“Most companies can’t afford to hire teams of 20 people to drive data projects and wire together multiple systems. There aren’t even enough skilled people out there to do all that work,” said Daniel Yu, director of product marketing for Azure Data and Artificial Intelligence.

Making it easy for customers

Customers can bring together various sources of data into a single feed with Azure Synapse Analytics Studio, a console – or single pane of glass that will allow a business professional with minimal technical expertise to locate and collect data from multiple sources like sales, supply chain, finance and product development. They can then choose how and where to store that data, and they can use it to create reports through Microsoft’s popular Power BI analytics service.

In a matter of hours, Azure Synapse will deliver useful business insights that used to take days or even weeks and months, said Rohan Kumar, corporate vice president for Azure Data.

“Let’s say an executive wants a detailed report on sales performance in the eastern U.S. over the last six months,” Kumar said. Today, a data engineer has to do a lot of work to find where that data is stored and write a lot of brittle code to tie various services together. They might even have to bring in a systems integrator partner. With Azure Synapse, there’s no code required. It’s a much more intuitive experience.”

The complexity of the technical problems Azure Synapse addressed would be hard to overstate. Microsoft had to meld multiple independent components into one coherent form factor, while giving a wide range of people – from data scientists to line of business owners – their preferred tools for accessing and using data.


With Azure Synapse, there’s no code required. It’s a much more intuitive experience.”

~ Rohan Kumar, corporate vice president for Azure Data


That includes products like SQL Server, the open source programming interface Apache Spark, Azure Data Factory and Azure Data Studio, as well as notebook interfaces preferred by many data professionals to clean and model data.

“Getting all those capabilities to come together fluidly, making it run faster, simpler, eliminating overlapping processes – there was some scary good stuff getting done,” Ramakrishnan said.

The result is a data analytics system that will be as easy to use as a modern mobile phone. Just as the smartphone replaced several devices by making all of their core capabilities intuitively accessible in a single device, the Azure Synapse “smartphone for data” now allows a data engineer to build an entire end-to-end data pipeline in one place. It also enables data scientists and analysts to look at the underlying data in ways that are natural to them.

And just as the phone has driven waves of collaboration and business innovation, Azure Synapse will free up individuals and companies to introduce new products and services as quickly as they can dream them up, Microsoft said.

“If we can help different people view data through a lens that is natural to them, while it’s also visible to others in ways natural to them, then we will transform the way companies work,” Ramakrishnan said. That’s how we should measure our success.

Top photo: Rohan Kumar, corporate vice president for Azure Data, says Azure Synapse will deliver useful business insights that used to take days or even weeks and months. Photo by Scott Eklund/Red Box Pictures.

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