Azure Updates: Quantum traffic calming; Spot VMs; Xbox; Functions; Video Indexer and Computer Vision

December 15 2019

From new VMs and a fresh Middle East data center to efforts to tackle traffic, upgrade Functions and stream Xbox games through the cloud, Microsoft rounded out another busy week of announcements.

Back in early November, Microsoft announced Microsoft Quantum as a means of working toward quantum computing and solving very complex challenges. Now, Quantum is already being put to use. Microsoft and Ford teamed up to use the technology in a bid to reduce traffic congestion in Seattle, attempting to create a more balanced approach to GPS routing that doesn't send drivers onto already packed routes.

Over the course of 2019, Microsoft added new Azure data centers in Germany, Switzerland, South Africa—and its first in the Middle East in the United Arab Emirates. Now Qatar will be the next region, with a data center set to open by 2021, supporting Azure, Office 365, Dynamics 365 and the Power Platform.

Microsoft announced the public preview of Azure Spot VMs, which offer access to unused Azure compute resources at substantial discounts. Geared toward workloads such as batch jobs, development and testing, short-projects or stateless apps Spot VMs can be evicted at any point, and provide a similar pricing structure to pay-as-you-go VMs. They are poised to replace Azure low-priority VMs in the scale set. In contrast to the previous offering, pricing varies by region or SKU, with current prices available within Azure portal. Users will need to be prepared for evictions to happen and can optionally subscribe for a 30-second eviction notice. Particularly for long-running operations, checkpoints along the way can give a spot to relaunch from in the event of an eviction.

Earlier in the year, Azure proximity placement groups entered preview as a way to help customers co-locate Azure Infrastructure as a Service for low network latency. On December 9, the offering became generally available, across all public cloud regions except for India Central. Armed with portal support, users can move in existing resources, work with SAP apps (like SAP HANA) and measure VM latency.

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