[caption id="attachment_144954" align="aligncenter" width="2491"] Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella[/caption] At its Connect conference last week in New York City, Microsoft unveiled some new tools that push its new(ish) “intelligent cloud, intelligent edge” missive forward. In addition, it offered up some new features for developers who rely on Visual Studio. First, Azure: Microsoft’s cloud service now has a feature (still in preview) dubbed ‘Databricks,’ which provides analytics via Apache Spark. With a single-click setup process, users can integrate with an Azure SQL Data Warehouse, Azure Storage, Cosmos DB, Azure Active Directory and Power BI. Microsoft says this "simplifies the creation of modern data warehouses that enable organizations to provide self-service analytics over all data with enterprise-grade performance and governance,” while offering a streamlined workflow with an interactive workspace. There's also some Cosmos and Azure Database news, too. Cassandra API is coming to Cosmos DB; Cassandra will be offered ‘as-a-service’ for turnkey global distribution. Microsoft has also joined the MariaDB foundation, and will offer Azure Database for MariaDB in preview for managing MariaDB instances in Azure.

Visual Studio

Visual Studio is getting some new tools and features, all aimed at making it simpler to create apps faster. App Center, which provides continuous integration for C, Swift, Android Java, Xamarin and React Native apps, is now generally available; it provides automated UI testing, beta distribution, tight integration with GitHub, analytics for audience metrics, and crash reporting. Live Share is, like GitHub’s Teletype, collaborative coding. Visual Studio’s Live Share mode is meant for debugging and light editing, and lets developers work together without the need for synchronization or the same tools. The interesting thing about Visual Studio Live Share is that collaborators must explicitly join in to start coding. Clicking on a shared link to a codebase only opens it in preview, with an added step to take if they actually want to add code. That avoids the pitfalls of ‘let me just fix that for you’ or errant keyboard strikes when examining code. Azure is getting two services in preview mode: IoT Edge and SQL Database Machine Learning. IoT Edge enables artificial intelligence, advanced analytics and machine learning for IoT services. Azure SQL Machine Learning is a bit more advanced; it supports R language models inside SQL databases, and is meant specifically for data scientists. True, there’s a lot of ‘preview’ happening right now with regard to some Microsoft products, but it could make for a very interesting Build 2018.