Build 2016: Announcing tomorrow’s cloud innovations for today’s developers

Every business and industry is being transformed by the cloud – and as cloud speed, scale and agility continue to increase, so too does what’s possible using cloud services. Imagine a dairy farmer who can improve his cows’ milk production by hooking them up to monitoring sensors. Or a hospital that can auto-monitor hygiene practices to make it a safer place. Or a car that can alert you to traffic and save you hassle on the way to work. All this is happening today, thanks to exponentially increasing amounts of data, and new ways to analyze this data for better business insights and connect it to a growing number of devices.

But helping businesses evolve to the next generation of cloud computing isn’t easy on developers. The pressure to innovate faster falls squarely on their shoulders, tasking them with building applications that can process and analyze data at cloud speed, while targeting any device or platform. Today at Build, our message is simple: We’re here to take the pressure off. With unparalleled scale via 30 worldwide regions, Microsoft Azure is the best environment for developers to easily build intelligent applications – across any device or OS.

Today, we made targeting every device and platform a lot easier by making Xamarin available to every Visual Studio developer for free, including the free Visual Studio Community Edition. We are also making available a free Xamarin Studio Community Edition for OS X. Developers worldwide can now easily create apps using an end-to-end mobile development solution – joining companies like Slack, Pinterest, Alaska Airlines and more. To enable even more choice and flexibility for developers, we announced a commitment to open source Xamarin’s runtime, libraries and command line tools as part of the .NET Foundation. Both the Xamarin SDK and Mono will be available under the MIT License.

Xamarin capabilities and services will also be added to Microsoft DevOps and Enterprise development tools offerings, providing a comprehensive solution that spans every phase of the mobile development cycle.

With the combination of Xamarin and Azure App Service for rich mobile backends, Microsoft is helping developers embrace the next generation of app development – but it’s only one piece of the puzzle. Developers also need to take advantage of the data explosion to build more intelligent, predictive apps, while ensuring those apps stay connected across a growing number of devices. Today, we announced several new innovations to help.

First, we announced a preview of Azure Functions, extending Azure’s market-leading application platform with new serverless compute for event-driven solutions. Functions lets developers easily handle on-demand tasks that respond to events, common in Web and mobile applications, IoT and big data scenarios. Working across Azure and third-party services, it enables developers to write functions in a variety of languages, such as JavaScript, C#, Python and PHP, with the ability to automatically scale out to meet demand, only charging for the time a function runs. And with an open source runtime, developers will be able run Functions anywhere – on Azure, in their datacenters or on other clouds –taking flexibility and choice a step further.

We also announced easier ways for developers to embrace the Internet of Things to connect data and devices for greater innovation. For example, we now have Azure IoT Starter Kits available for purchase. With development boards, actuators, sensors and easy user-friendly tutorials, now anyone with Windows or Linux experience – whether a student, inventor, device maker, hobbyist or developer – can quickly build IoT prototypes inexpensively. Once a prototype is ready for full-scale deployment, these users can leverage all of Azure’s comprehensive IoT offerings already on the market. In addition, we announced the Azure IoT Gateway SDK, along with device management in Azure IoT Hub – further easing the path to IoT by connecting legacy devices and sensors to the Internet without having to replace existing infrastructure, and managing these devices at scale via a standards-based approach. Using Azure IoT technology, customers like Schneider Electric have connected more than 3 million devices this year alone, transforming them from a traditional electric company to a modern, connected, global leader in sustainable energy management.

Connecting devices and data through IoT is critical for developers – but so is ingesting, storing, processing and analyzing that data. To help developers help their customers get insights from data we announced a preview of Power BI Embedded, which allows developers to embed fully interactive reports and visualizations in any customer-facing application, on any device.  Customers can choose from a broad range of Power BI data visualizations that come out of the box, or easily build custom visualizations for their unique applications. To help developers scale it all while maximizing choice and flexibility, we also announced today that applications can now communicate with the scalable NoSQL service DocumentDB, using existing Apache License MongoDB APIs and drivers. This extends the reach of DocumentDB, a proven service that enables companies like NextGames, makers of the multi-player Walking Dead video game run on Azure, to handle 75 billion requests per day.

Helping developers embrace new app models in a cloud-first world is a priority, especially with the growing demand to build highly scalable apps that are always-on and agile. In a 24×7 world, businesses cannot afford to have apps down for maintenance. Increasingly, developers are turning to microservices, independent components that work together to deliver an application’s overall functionality, to help address these business requirements.

Today we announced the general availability of Azure Service Fabric, our microservices application platform, to help developers design apps and services with always-on availability and scale. This battle-tested platform has been used for years as the foundation for Microsoft cloud services like Azure SQL Database, Azure Document DB, Cortana and Skype for Business. Features like automated health-based upgrades and rollbacks, support for stateful and stateless microservices, and deep Visual Studio integration make Service Fabric a compelling choice. We also announced previews of Service Fabric for Windows Server, for deploying on-premises and on other clouds, and Service Fabric for Linux and Java APIs – extending scale, availability and agility to developers everywhere.

From intelligent data and machine learning advancements, to IOT innovations and microservices offerings, Microsoft is helping developers build applications for the cloud realities of today, and the cloud evolution of tomorrow. We’re in a unique position to do this, as the only cloud provider that supports every organization and developer – from core infrastructure services, to platform services and tools, to SaaS – with the flexibility to build and run apps in any language across any platform. Today at Build, I am humbled to have the opportunity to share our innovations with developers – and hear firsthand their feedback so we can continually shape, deliver and improve the offerings that will make them more productive and successful. Together with our customers, we’re building the next generation of the cloud to achieve more.