Azure Updates: Form Recognizer; Logic Apps; Azure Stack; Site Recovery; Vision AI Developer Kit


Microsoft began ramping up for a new season as September got underway, highlighting new visual AI capabilities and notifying users of developer updates and soon to be deprecated features.

Principal program manager Neta Halby discussed ways to use¬†Azure Form Recognizer. To date, the system has already extracted table, text and key value pair data from documents, such as W-2s, but now adds handwritten text recognition and “mixed-mode,” applicable to medical, financial, insurance and manufacturing forms. Halby indicated a potential value proposition that includes reducing manual digitization of forms, extending data sets back to handwritten documents or creating a single application for multiple document types. So far, Avanade is an early adopter of the new features reducing manual input of handwritten contact information on paper sheets at trade shows.

Over the course of July and August, Azure Logic Apps added support for internal access endpoints, inline code and fixed IP addresses for connector deployment endpoints. Developers can use Azure on-premises data gateways across subscriptions, view canceled webhook actions and take advantage of portal themes. During sprint 157, the Azure team added rollup columns for backlogs to track across work hierarchies in Azure DevOps, as well as making many small changes for Repos, Boards and Artifacts. The team notified customers to upgrade all Kubernetes 1.10.x clusters to one of the four supported versions by October 25. Following the release of version 1.14 in August, version 1.10.x is poised to disappear from CLI and Azure portal. Further out, Media Encoder Standards and Premium Workflow encoder capabilities will be sunsetted on November 30 while v1.x of the JavaScript SDK for Cosmos DB is set to be deprecated on August 30, 2020.

Several Azure Blueprint samples are available for compliance. The most recently released is NIST SP 800-53 R4, which maps Azure Policy controls to NIST controls, which focuses on compliance for US government users.

Among geographic updates, M-series VMs are available in the France Central region, while cross region read replicas for Azure Database for MySQL are now live. Microsoft is introducing monthly payment options for Azure Reservations, Azure SQL Database instance pool previews for pre-planning vCore compute resources and an integration between DevTest Labs and Azure Bastion to connect VMs in Azure portal via SSL.

SQL Server Data Tools are now available as part of the Visual Studio 2019 preview, supporting stable change management and deployment when creating solutions with SQL Data Warehouse.

Azure Stack is now integrated with the Government Secret cloud for hybrid scenarios, offering Pay-As-You-Go billing and marketplace billing. Stack is also offering general availability of diagnostic log collections, sharing logs with Customer Support Services, and work is underway to produce solution patterns to help developers create AI inferencing for video streams at the network edge.

Principal PM manager, Anne Yang, delved into Microsoft’s partnership with Qualcomm. Last year, the two companies announced the¬†Vision AI Developer Kit, which is now generally available to intelligent edge solutions by combining a camera, IoT Edge, Machine Learning and Qualcomm’s Vision Intelligence 300 Platform. The combined kit is intended to help users deploy vision models in as little as minutes, working with Visual Studio Code or a variety of no-code options with Machine Learning, Cognitive Services and Custom Vision.

Rajani Janaki Ram, program manager for R&D Compute, addressed Azure Site Recovery. Through strong integrations, users can cut down manual steps and map more easily between a source and target. She noted that public IPs, network security groups and internal load balancers also matter in a site recovery plan.

MongoDB announced an expanded partnership with Microsoft, becoming part of its Partner Reported ACR co-sell for MongoDB Atlas. Although Atlas is already integrated with Power BI, Databricks and Sitecore, the co-sell agreement makes it available through Azure Marketplace with pricing integrated with Azure billing. In Germany, British IT company Logicalis acquired Orange Networks, a Microsoft partner with a presence in Munich, Hamburg, Offenbach and Dusseldorf. As a result Logicalis Germany gains Gold Partner status and aims to be better able to serve Azure partners in Germany. Luxembourg-based SES is extending Azure ExpressRoute through its satellite network, providing the Azure service through its 50 geostationary satellites to ships and oil platforms. Meanwhile, in the Philippines, Infosys is working with JG Summit Holdings to setup a platform based on Azure and SAP S/4 HANA.

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