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Top 3 trends from Microsoft Build 2021

Lars Klint
Lars Klint

It is Microsoft Build time! The annual developer event is 100% online this year (like last year). Microsoft Build 2021 started yesterday, May 25, and continues through tomorrow, May 27. And I’ve watched every single session at Build to figure out the top three trends around cloud — just for you!

What’s happening at Microsoft Build 2021?

There aren’t any “change the world of cloud forever” pieces of news from this year’s conference, there were many improvements and upgrades to lots of things. I guess that is a sign of products maturing and being more stable. I’ll take that.

Here are the three biggest trends from Microsoft Build that should be of interest to cloud gurus.

Keep up with all the Azure news fit to print … err… put on YouTube in the ACG original series Azure This Week!

3. Data

The third strongest trend from Microsoft Build 2021 is data. Of course, data is the food for any computing system, so it makes sense Microsoft is upping it’s Azure data game.

The most interesting new data feature is the ledger capability for Azure SQL Database. This adds tamper-evident capabilities to your Azure SQL Databases using blockchain technology, but without blockchain infrastructure.

Microsoft has abstracted away all the complexity of setting up blockchain for your data and pretty much made it a button in Azure. You simply enable “ledger functionality” on the tables you want and keep using SQL like normal. But now you can tell if the data has been tampered with. Nifty!

Other notable mentions in the Azure data space are:

  • Updates for Cosmos DB to expand the free tier and provide partial document updates
  • 12 months free use of Azure Databases for PostgreSQL or MySQL
  • Azure Synapse updates for hardware acceleration and Dataverse integration

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2. Hybrid

One of Azure’s strong points is number two: hybrid.

With the historic customer base of Windows Server, Active Directory, and many other Microsoft products, there are a lot of companies that have existing infrastructure that could benefit from a bit of cloud power.

At Microsoft Build 2021, a lot of focus was on Azure Arc. The Arc service lets you run any Windows, Linux, SQL server, or Kubernetes cluster across data centers, whether it is on-premises, in Azure, or even in another cloud. Arc is for multi-cloud — however you define that. And at Build, some more goodies were announced for Arc.

  • Azure App Services are now “Arc enabled” (as Microsoft likes to call it), through Kubernetes, so you can have your Azure native apps services like Functions, App services, Logic Apps and Event Grid running almost anywhere.
  • Open Service Mesh (OSM) is now in preview with Arc. The OSM add-on simplifies integration between OSM and Azure Arc-enabled Kubernetes clusters.
  • Azure Kubernetes Services (AKS) on Azure Stack HCI is in GA, and is fully Arc enabled. (They really like that term.)

If only they had named it Azure Arrrgh! — the pirate service that sneaks into other cloud platforms and plunders their resources. Maybe they’re saving that for Build 2022 . . .

1. Cloud Native

Finally, the number one trend from Build: cloud native.

If you aren’t familiar with the term, “cloud native” means using services that are 100% living on cloud platforms, such as containers, service meshes, microservices, and immutable infrastructure. And there are a bunch of updates. Ready?

  • As mentioned above, App Service, Functions, Logic Apps, API Management, and Event Grid can now run on Kubernetes clusters anywhere across on-premises, multi-cloud, and edge environments with Azure Arc.
  • Native support for WebSocket APIs in Azure API Management is now in preview.
  • Azure Communication Services has a new UI library, call recording, direct routing, and much more.
  • Azure Logic Apps has new hosting options, improved performance and developer workflows, and 4000 extra actions for the consumption tier.
  • Two new Azure Marketplace offers for Java Enterprise Edition (EE) and Jakarta EE workloads are now generally available.
  • Durable Functions — an extension to Azure Functions that lets you write serverless workflows — now supports PowerShell.
  • And a whole lot more….. phew!

That’s all for this year!

That is all I could fit in for Microsoft Build 2021. What was your favorite announcement or session this year? Let me know via Twitter or join the A Cloud Guru community Discord server and interact with other students and ACG people. I’m on there — say hello!

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