General release dates for cloud-based Azure Search and Azure DocumentDB database services were announced by Microsoft on Thursday.
Azure Search, the full-text search engine service, is generally available immediately, while Azure DocumentDB will be released April 8, Microsoft announced in a blog. The services debuted as previews in August 2015. Azure DocumentDB is the more anticipated of the two services because it's Microsoft's entry into the NoSQL database market.
"Developers want to build cloud-based applications that support multiple platforms and different concurrent versions between multiples applications for user-generated content, IoT, and gaming scenarios," Microsoft wrote in its Azure blog. "They want these applications to deliver high-scale and reliable performance. NoSQL has emerged as the leading category of database technology to address these needs."
[ Want a user's perspective? Read Microsoft Azure DocumentDB: Customer Test Drive. ]
Currently the most widely used NoSQL database, MongoDB is often deployed in the cloud, but it's also available as on-premises software. Microsoft has not announced plans to make DocumentDB software available, nor has it ruled out that possibility. Early last year IBM acquired the purely cloud-based Cloudant database service, which is based on the Open Source CouchDB NoSQL database. Then last fall, IBM added Cloudant Local software to give users an on-premises deployment option.
Microsoft said Azure DocumentDB will be offered at three standard performance levels: S1, S2, and S3. This will enable different collections of data to be assigned different performance levels, so developers can selectively purchase the level of performance required.
Azure Search will enable developers to embed full-text search functionality into Web and mobile applications. In addition to being a managed service -- as opposed to search software that customers have to manage themselves -- Azure Search is distinguished from alternatives, Microsoft said, in that it supports 50 languages, tapping natural-language-processing technology used by Microsoft Office and Bing.
Microsoft touted refinements to the Azure Search production release, including the ability to more easily load data from Azure DocumentDB, Azure SQL Database, and SQL Server on Azure VMs using new indexers. In addition, a .NET software development kit is now available to ease Azure Search development.
In other Azure news made public in Thursday's blog, Microsoft announced large A10 and A11 instances offering faster processors with more virtual cores to enable greater compute power and more memory than previously available. A10 instances have eight virtual cores and 56 GB of RAM, while A11 instances have 16 virtual cores and 112 GB of RAM.
In a security and ease-of-development enhancement, Azure Active Directory now allows the assignment of shared application accounts to groups, a feature that's useful in managing access to company-owned social accounts, such as Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn, that many users want to access. Finally, Microsoft also announced the preview release of Azure Media Services Premium Encoder, an advanced encoding engine for on-demand digital media workflows. The engine is said to support professional-quality transcoding of a variety of input and output codecs and file formats.
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