What’s new in Azure Data, AI, and Digital Applications: Data operates as the currency of AI

Every day we see new and amazing things unfolding for individuals and businesses because of generative AI. Imagination is unlocked for content creators, time is saved on routine tasks, and the customer service experience is forever changed. The excitement is palpable but one thing that can temper all that excitement? A data strategy that doesn’t align with your AI aspirations. 

A sound data strategy—how data is collected, stored, managed, analyzed, and used to achieve business goals—is the foundation of any successful AI project. We like to say data operates as the currency of AI, because the real magic and value from any AI technology or intelligent application happens when it’s applied to your own data.  

When it comes to ensuring your data strategy supports your AI objectives, what works for one company may not work for another. Every company has different data sources, needs, and objectives, but there are some common elements to check.  

For instance, is there alignment between your data vision and goals, business strategy, and AI use cases? Are there gaps or challenges across your data landscape, like siloed data, multiple reporting tools, and more? Is governance in place to ensure security, data quality, and compliance? 

Choosing the right data platform, along with the right tools and services, is essential. And of course, we think the best choice is the Microsoft Intelligent Data Platform, powered by Microsoft Azure, where you can seamlessly unify your data estate to efficiently manage your infrastructure, data, analytics, and AI solutions. 

Here are just a few of the latest updates and resources we’re making available in Azure to fuel your innovation, connect your apps and data estate to your AI transformation strategies, and unlock the power of data as the currency of AI. 

What’s new in data, AI, and digital applications 

First on Azure: Mistral’s flagship model Mistral Large

This week we announced Mistral AI will bring its flagship model, Mistral Large, first to Azure and the Mistral AI platform. With Mistral Large on Azure, customers get the benefit of a highly performant and efficient large language model (LLM) that’s cost-effective. Mistral AI is just one of the latest ways we’re providing our customers with flexibility and options so they can decide which model is best for their business. Read more on the partnership.  

Microsoft recognized as a Leader in 2023 Gartner® Magic Quadrant™ for Data Integration Tools and 2023 Gartner® Magic Quadrant™ for Container Management 

For the third year in a row, Gartner has positioned Microsoft as a Leader in the 2023 Gartner® Magic Quadrant™ for Data Integration Tools. Data integration has become a critical operation as organizations seek to draw on vast data stores to empower decision making and fuel innovation. Learn more about our data integration capabilities and read the Gartner® Magic Quadrant™ for Data Integration Tools report. 

Cloud-native technologies like containers and Kubernetes are the future of application development. That’s why we’re honored to announce that Microsoft has been named a Leader in the 2023 Gartner® Magic Quadrant™ for Container Management. Learn more about our approach to integrating Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS) with other Azure services. And read the Gartner® Magic Quadrant™ for Container Management report. 

Azure OpenAI Service: Assistants API, new models for fine-tuning, text-to-speech, and more 

We recently announced several new capabilities, models, and pricing improvements, including the launch of Assistants API (preview), which makes it simple for developers to create high-quality, copilot-like experiences within their own applications. There are also new text-to-speech capabilities, model updates for OpenAI GPT-4 Turbo (preview) and GPT-3.5 Turbo, and new embeddings models. Also available are fine-tuning API updates, including a new model, support for continuous fine-tuning, and lower pricing. Explore what’s new in Azure OpenAI. 

Microsoft Fabric is now HIPAA compliant 

Microsoft Fabric, our comprehensive analytics solution for businesses in the era of AI, has earned new accreditations for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) including ISO 27017, ISO 27018, ISO 27001, and ISO 27701. These accreditations show our dedication to ensuring the best level of security, compliance, and privacy for our customers’ data.

Announcing native document support for personally identifiable information redaction and summarization 

Redacting personally identifiable information (PII) from a document is often a manual process, which can be time-consuming, expensive, and inconvenient. To alleviate this challenge, we are excited to announce the availability of native document support in Azure AI Language, which automates PII redaction. It is available in public preview. You can apply for access to this feature today. 

Achieving sustainable growth with Azure and FinOps best practices 

This month we introduced two game-changing Microsoft Azure capabilities addressing the global priority to reduce IT carbon footprints and optimize cloud costs: Azure Carbon Optimization (preview) and Microsoft Azure Emissions Insights (preview). Discover how FinOps best practices can strategically guide your business through the intricacies of carbon emission reduction and learn more about Azure Carbon Optimization. 

SQL Server enabled by Microsoft Azure Arc now offers Azure SQL migration assessment 

As a first step in enabling an end-to-end migration to put your data to work, empower innovation, and be AI ready, SQL Server enabled by Azure Arc now offers Azure SQL migration assessment as a built-in capability. Arc SQL Server continuously assesses the SQL Server estate and provides readiness and optimal Azure SQL size recommendations.

New migration service in Azure Database for PostgreSQL (preview) 

The new migration service in Azure Database for PostgreSQL simplifies the process of moving PostgreSQL databases from anywhere to Azure, offering both offline and online migration options from an on-premises server, Amazon Web Service Relational Database Service (AWS RDS) for PostgreSQL, Azure Virtual Machines (VMs), and Azure Database for PostgreSQL-Single Server. Advantages of Azure Database for PostgreSQL-Flexible Server include cost-effective scaling and performance, improved control and customization, enhanced security features, and more.

Azure SQL Database Hyperscale outpaces Amazon Aurora PostgreSQL by up to 68% in performance and value 

We partnered with Principled Technologies on a commissioned study to compare Microsoft Azure SQL Database Hyperscale performance with other cloud databases in the market. The study clearly shows that Azure SQL Database Hyperscale easily manages the most critical workloads, outpacing Amazon Aurora PostgreSQL by up to 68% in both performance and value. Read the report from Principled Technologies.  

Microsoft Azure Migrate and Modernize program expansion includes Oracle Exadata migration 

Offers for Oracle workloads within Azure Migrate and Modernize have been extended to support customers migrating on-premises Oracle Exadata environments to Oracle Database@Azure. In addition, Exadata support is available in both Assess and Plan (pilot and proof of concept) and Migrate and Modernize phases. Microsoft partners and customers are both invited to learn more about Azure Migrate and Modernize and Azure Innovate.

Customers fueling transformation with data 

NETZSCH Group creates single source of truth with Microsoft Intelligent Data Platform 

Around the world, companies across a range of diverse markets rely on machinery and instrumentation developed by German-based holding company NETZSCH Group. The company recently began exploring how AI and IoT data could provide new avenues for growth. Because the company operated its three main business units independently, its old system was not made for big data, was not designed for anything AI-based, and wasn’t scalable. Needing to unify its siloed data as part of its AI journey, the company adopted the Microsoft Intelligent Data Platform (MIDP). Using several Azure services, including Azure Synapse Analytics, Azure Databricks, and Azure Machine Learning, the company unified its data and reduced the number of reporting tools from 12 to 1: Power BI. The company is now looking to use its modernized data estate and Microsoft Intelligent Data Platform to drive new avenues of growth. Read the full story. 

ASOS uses Azure AI Studio to surprise and delight young fashion lovers 

With the recent prevalence of generative AI platforms like ChatGPT, ASOS recognized a triple opportunity to expand its business model, enrich its technology infrastructure, and meet the modern tech expectations of its young customers. ASOS used Azure OpenAI Service and Azure AI prompt flow with ChatGPT language models to rapidly develop and test an Azure OpenAI-powered customer experience that helps customers discover new looks.

Cognizant makes performance management more effective and meaningful with Microsoft Azure Machine Learning 

Cognizant wanted to take performance management to new heights by making it more intelligent, more meaningful, and even more effective. Already familiar with the power of AI and machine learning, Cognizant set out to enhance its solution by focusing on improving the value and effectiveness of manager feedback to ensure all employees received feedback that was meaningful, easy to comprehend and actionable.

Astronomer delivers business-critical data with Microsoft Azure 

Organizations depend on data to power their applications, run critical processes, produce analytics, and deliver AI. However, teams often struggle to deliver data reliably, scale their use of data, and implement governance and control. Astronomer, a leading Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) platform, provides a modern, enterprise-ready data orchestration platform powered by Apache Airflow. They are bringing this solution to Azure as a native service available to all Azure customers.

Datex debuts flexible supply chain software based on the Microsoft Azure Stack and Azure Integration Services 

Datex delivers third-party logistics providers a comprehensive range of warehouse management solutions catering to their specific needs. To enhance scalability and dependability for fluctuating demands and expanding client requirements, Datex developed Wavelength, an enterprise low-code application platform (LCAP), utilizing Azure Stack and Azure Integration Services. This approach provided Datex with increased capability and adaptability, along with inherent scaling for various operational volumes.

Credit Europe Bank NV enhances customer experience with Azure, leaving legacy infrastructure behind 

Dealing with its aging infrastructure, Credit Europe Bank NV chose Kubernetes Service and Azure AI services to upgrade their legacy infrastructure and revolutionize the IT operations and customer experience. It introduced features like real-time forex trading, soft tokens, and a swift, mobile-based customer onboarding process. With a modernized banking platform, enhanced security measures, and plans to further expand within the Microsoft ecosystem, the bank is set to grow and scale even further.

Skill up with these learning resources 

Enable chat history with Azure AI Studio and Azure Cosmos DB 

Deliver improved user experiences by providing easier access to past conversations. This feature empowers developers to build advanced chatbots leveraging custom data for informed responses and multimodal integration.

New resources for digital natives on Azure and Microsoft for startups 

Visit our new digital natives on Azure site, a great resource and hub including use cases, customer stories, programs, blogs, event information, and learning paths. Also, check out Microsoft Learn for Startups. It’s packed with tools to help power startups with Microsoft technology, from getting up and running in the Microsoft Cloud to ensuring security and compliance for customers. 

Official Azure Cosmos DB learning resources 

Building intelligent apps with Azure Cosmos DB and want to better understand capabilities like vector search and how to implement RAG pattern, along with improved elasticity, and greater scale? Check out the Microsoft Learning resources for Azure Cosmos DB. 

Official SQL Server learning resources 

Prepare for the SQLBits conference on March 19 to 23, 2024 by leveraging our free Microsoft Learn resources on the official SQL Server Microsoft Learn Collection to help you better understand how to improve performance with the latest capabilities for Azure SQL Databases, Azure Database for PostgreSQL, and SQL Server enabled by AZ Arc Explore SQL Server. Visit the official SQL Server Microsoft Learn Collection. 

A code-first experience for building a copilot with Azure AI Studio 

In addition to a rich UI-driven experience perfect for low-code developers and learners, Azure AI Studio provides a code-first experience for pro developers who want to build custom functions, integrate with other services, and experiment with various features. Using the Azure AI command-line tool (CLI) or language-based libraries (SDK), developers can use a code-first experience to build applications that integrate models with AI services, manage resources involved in their solution(s), and safely and responsibly deploy solutions.

Microsoft Fabric Learn Together weekly series 

Get caught up on this valuable learning series by watching sessions on demand. Sessions range from getting started with end-to-end analytics, to using Apache Spark in Fabric, working with Microsoft Azure Delta Lake tables, Microsoft Azure Data Factory pipelines, data ingestion, and more.

Get ready for the Microsoft Fabric Analytics Engineers exam 

Thinking about taking the exam for the new Microsoft Fabric Analytics Engineer role? Take our new DP-600 practice exam featuring 50 sample questions to find out if you are ready and to see what areas you need to focus on to ace your exam. Try the practice exam on Microsoft Learn.  

New Virtual Training Day tracks to accelerate your understanding of Azure Data and AI 

Attend the newest virtual training day events for migrating and securing SQL Server, implementing a data lakehouse with Microsoft Fabric, and data fundamentals designed to build skills and get advice from experts.  

Want to learn something new? We have more shows to help! 

Explore Azure AI with The AI Show

Join Seth Juarez and friends to explore cutting-edge Azure AI developments and engage in insightful conversations with AI experts. The new channel hosts live episodes, on-demand segments, and provides seamless access to the latest content.

Watch on-demand: Make Azure AI Real

Microsoft Reactor’s Make Azure AI Real series is a collection of livestreams focused on AI technical labs from Microsoft experts. Learn how to use Microsoft AI tools and services, such Azure OpenAI Service, responsible AI, and more. You will also get insights into the latest AI trends and best practices. Watch on-demand and discover how to make AI real for your projects and goals.

New episode: Azure Innovation Podcast Featuring M12, Microsoft’s venture capital fund

Episode 3 features a chat with Michael Stewart, a Partner at M12, Microsoft’s venture capital fund. Get a unique perspective on how startups are spearheading AI innovation and standing out in a crowded market.

Opportunities to connect 

KubeCon Paris: March 19 to 22, 2024, Paris 

Microsoft Azure is a Diamond sponsor of KubeCon Europe, the Cloud Native Computing Foundation’s (CNCF) flagship conference for Kubernetes and open-source technology. Join us in Paris, France, March 19 to 22, 2024 to learn about the latest developments in cloud-native and AI. Azure will also be hosting a pre-day event focused on Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS) for customers and partners on March 19, 2024.

Microsoft Fabric Community Conference: March 26 to 28, 2024

There’s still time to register for the Microsoft Fabric Community Conference in Las Vegas March 26 to 28, 2024 and see firsthand how Fabric and the rest of our data and AI products can help your organization prepare for the era of AI. You’ll hear from leading Microsoft and community experts from around the world and get hands on experiences with the latest features from Microsoft Fabric, Power BI, Azure Databases, Azure Databricks, Azure AI, Microsoft Purview, and so much more. Use discount code MSCUST to get $100 off.

Microsoft JDConf 2024: Virtual Java developer conference March 27 to 28, 2024 

This enriching two-day event March 27 to 28, 2024 will feature a selection of live sessions from leading voices in the Java community and Microsoft teams. We’re organizing separate live streams targeting three major regions: Americas; Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA); and Asia-Pacific. This ensures that no matter where you are, you can be a part of Microsoft JDConf at a time that works best for you.

Azure Cosmos DB Conf 2024: April 16, 2024 

This year’s theme is “Building the Next Generation of AI Apps with Azure Cosmos DB.” Tune into our April 16 livestream to watch sessions from Microsoft experts and community members and learn why Azure Cosmos DB is the database for the era of AI. You won’t want to miss it.

POSETTE: An event for Postgres 2024: June 11 to 13, 2024

Formerly called Citus Con, POSETTE is a free, virtual developer event Jun 11 to13, 2024. The name POSETTE stands for Postgres Open-Source Ecosystem Talks Training and Education. The event features four livestream opportunities to hear from open-source users, Azure database customers, and experts in PostgreSQL and Citus. Come learn what you can do with the world’s most advanced open-source relational database—from the nerdy to the sublime. 

What’s new?  

Jessica shares insights on technology transformation along with important updates and resources about the data, AI, and digital application solutions that make Microsoft Azure the platform for the era of AI. Find Jessica’s blog posts here and be sure to follow Jessica on LinkedIn.