Sing it loud and sing it proud: It's all about the cloud for Microsoft

And AI, DevOps and, of course, the edge


Connect(); Because it wouldn't be a Microsoft event without the Azure drum being banged loudly and often, there were a slew of reveals related to Redmond's cloudy product line at today's Connect();.

AI is always listening

Though the debate on what AI actually is continues, Microsoft is happy to slap the moniker on all manner of complicated algorithms.

To that end, Microsoft showed off two updates for its Azure Cognitive Services, a bunch of APIs designed to allow systems to communicate with humans in a more natural (if slightly creepy) way.

Language Understanding – Microsoft's pitch to build natural language understanding into apps, bots and devices – has received container support in preview form. Redmond reckoned this will allow devs to stay consistent over the cloud to the edge.

Are you listening, Alexa?

Also generally available are custom translations in Microsoft's Translator Text service, aimed at allowing customers to handle the likes of industry-specific expressions better.

Azure on the Edge

Azure Stream Analytics (ASA) on IoT Edge has been pushed to general availability after a short time in preview. The tool allows users to decide where analytics should be processed between the edge or the cloud. Limited connectivity or compliance issues can make shunting data to the cloud not a great idea, said the Windows giant.

Back in April, Microsoft touted Azure Time Series Insights, a platform to store years' worth of time series data pivoted on devices.

Being able to perform analyses on time series (for example, temperature trends) is critical for many applications, and the new features will allow customers to add contextualisation to incoming telemetry data from devices.

To deal with paying for all the storage customers will need, Microsoft has introduced a "pay as you go" pricing model. And pay customers most certainly will if care is not exercised in deploying the technology.

Azure DevOps: Boards, Pipelines and, you guessed it, IoT

Microsoft is keen not to miss the boat on IoT and to that end intends to tweak Azure DevOps Projects to support IoT applications including, of course, Azure IoT Edge. The preview enables developers to create a CI/CD pipeline that can deploy IoT applications to an Azure IoT Edge device.

Devs could be forgiven for feeling a bit of déjà vu. Didn't the company already talk about something rather similar with the Arm Agent (via a Raspberry Pi 3) back in November?

After a bit of foot shuffling, Microsoft admitted at Connect();: "Although IoT Hub Support in Azure DevOps Projects is new, it builds on our existing offerings for IoT."

What is new, however, is the integration of Azure Boards with GitHub Issues. The preview, revealed today, enables work item integration with GitHub commits and pull requests for private projects.

This means links can be created by mentioning an Azure Boards work item in a GitHub commit message. Azure Boards work items are listed in the Pipelines build results when building GitHub commits that link to Boards work items.

And, of course, Azure Pipelines itself, which does the building in Microsoft's cloud, has seen some love today as well in the form of the Azure Pipelines extension for Visual Studio Code. The preview gives developers syntax highlighting and IntelliSense for YAML-based pipelines, as well as validating that the file is structured correctly. ®

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