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Ignite 2018: What's New in Azure Cloud Development

Microsoft focused on Azure development at this week's Ignite conference in Orlando, announcing a slew of new products and services for cloud coders, many in public previews.

We already detailed how artificial intelligence (AI) tech such as machine learning was interwoven throughout the entire gamut of developer news, including the Azure space. Here's a look at other new happenings in Azure development announced at the show.

Azure Functions
Microsoft announced the general availability of the Azure Functions 2.0 runtime, the latest release of its Azure Functions serverless compute service that lets developers run code on-demand without having to explicitly provision or manage infrastructure, typically in response to various types of events.

"Runtime and other platform improvements allow you to now use your crossplatform.NET Core assets within your Functions apps," Microsoft said. "Updates also include support for Python development and a consumption plan for Functions built on top of Linux OS. Azure Functions also now shows HTTP dependencies on the Application Insights App Map, enabling support for Function triggers and any HTTP connections for richer monitoring experience."

In a blog post, the company said the new release provides better user experience, developer capabilities and platform robustness.

Noting that Azure Functions now works on more platforms, including on local Mac or Linux machines, the company said, "The most significant changes are to the host runtime, which is now portable, cross-platform, and more efficient. This enables a wide range of options for how you build and run your apps."

Azure SignalR Service
Another Azure dev service hitting GA status is the Azure SignalR Service, emerging from a public preview that started in May. It lets coders create apps that more easily support real-time experiences such as chat, stock tickers and live dashboards. It's easier because the service takes care of details like capacity provisioning, scaling and ensuring persistent connections. "With about 3 million downloads to date, SignalR is a popular ASP.NET library that makes it simple to add real-time functionality to Web applications," Microsoft said.

Azure Container Registry
Microsoft announced several new developments around its Azure Container Registry (ACR), which lets developers manage a private Docker registry as a first-class Azure resource. The company said it simplifies container-based development by allowing for the easy storage and management of container images for Azure deployments in a central registry.

The new developments include:

  • The general availability of ACR tasks, which were previously called ACR build. ACR tasks allow for inner-loop development in the cloud with on-demand container image builds. "You can trigger container image builds automatically when code is committed to a Git repository or when a container’s base image is updated," Microsoft said. "With base image update triggers, you can also automate your OS and application framework patching workflow, only available with Azure, to maintain secure environments."
  • A public preview of ACR tasks multistep capability. Developers can use ACR tasks to define a series of steps to build, test and validate containers before deployment.
  • A public preview of ACR Docker content trust model support. "Content trust in ACR provides you with the ability to verify both the integrity and the publisher of all the data that goes into a container image," Micrsooft said. "Authorized users or services can push signed images to ACR and validate them at the point of deployment."
  • A public preview of ACR Helm repositories. Microsoft said Helm has evolved as the de facto standard to describe Kubernetes-based applications where deployment of multicontainer applications is involved. "With Helm repositories, customers can push their Helm Charts to ACR, providing a single source of truth for their images and deployment definitions running in Kubernetes," the company said.
  • A public preview ACR support for Open Container Initiative (OCI). The OCI is described as an open governance structure to create open industry standards for container formats and runtimes. Microsoft said this preview lets developers build and push OCI-formatted container images by using projects such as BuildKit.

Azure Logic Apps
This Microsoft service helps developers connect business-critical apps and services through the no-code automation of workflows, integration of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and enterprise applications and more. The company announced two new updates for Azure Logic Apps:

  • A new preview of a Logic Apps extension for the Visual Studio Code editor, helping developers do more with partners and first-party tools.
  • Support for an Azure Logic Apps SAP Connector for bi-directional integration between Logic Apps and SAP.

Azure Service Fabric
Microsoft's Azure Service Fabric is designed to help developers build and operate always-on, scalable, distributed apps by: microservices development and application lifecycle management; helping to reliably scale and orchestrate containers and microservices; run anything with different programming languages and models; run apps on Windows/Linux in Azure, on-premises or other clouds; and more.

At Ignite, Microsoft announced several fabric updates in public preview, including:

  • Simplified configuration of service-to-service communication.
  • A runtime-independent Reliable Collections library.
  • New Service Fabric Volume Disks.

The company also announced the open sourcing of Service Fabric Windows Builds and the general availability of a new backup/restore service.

Kubernetes on Azure Stack
Finally, the company announced a public preview of Kubernetes on Azure Stack. Azure Stack is an Azure extension that seeks to provide the innovation of cloud computing for building and deploying hybrid applications anywhere. "We now support Kubernetes clusters deployment on Azure Stack, a certified Kubernetes Cloud Provider," Microsoft said. "You can install Kubernetes using Azure Resource Manager templates generated by the ACS-Engine on Azure Stack."

About the Author

David Ramel is the editor of Visual Studio Magazine.

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