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Microsoft Launches new Cloud, Data & AI Capabilities in Canada

It’s no secret that AI and cloud computing are changing the way every industry thinks – from retail to manufacturing, and healthcare to financial services. The access to huge compute power, big data and intelligent cloud platform services are empowering IT and business leaders to think about product design, and end-customer experiences in a different way. Businesses are enabling predictive support and leading to discoveries and innovations that were not previously possible. And this is especially prominent in Canada. Canadian businesses are starting to truly recognize the value and business impact that comes along with adopting AI and cloud capabilities – According to IDC spending on AI in Canada is expected to reach $46 billion by 2020.

 At Microsoft, we are committed to empowering businesses across Canada with the tools and capabilities to fuel AI projects, and leverage Big Data to thrive in the digital age. To deliver on this promise we are excited to announce the availability of Azure M-Series Virtual Machines (VMs), NC-V3 series VMs, and SQL Managed Instance.

 The availability of these services from Microsoft’s Canadian cloud regions will help Canadian organizations leverage Data & AI solutions to identify new business opportunities, grow their customer base, open new markets, achieve competitive advantages, improve performance, security and optimize their costs.

“The ongoing partnership between Microsoft and SAP is a glowing example of the innovation potential in tech industry collaboration,” said John Ramsell, Head of SAP Cloud, SAP Canada. “SAP Customers running HANA Enterprise Cloud on Azure will now have access to Microsoft’s cutting-edge SAP-certified virtual machines, which will make them more efficient, more secure, and better able to take advantage of emerging technologies and find new revenue streams.”

Microsoft Azure M-Series VM

The Azure M-Series Virtual Machines offer the highest vCPU count (from 8 to 128 hyper-threaded vCPUs) and largest memory (from 192 GB up to 4 TB) of any VM in the cloud, all powered by Intel® Xeon® 2.5 GHz E7-8890 v3 processors. With the capabilities and infrastructure to handle large in-memory workloads involving big datasets, companies are already maximizing its high-performance potential by moving SAP HANA applications to the cloud, since M-series VMs are SAP certified for all SAP workloads. The move provides cost efficiencies, reduces commercial and technical risks, offers economies of scale, and allows customers greater access to their data. Having their data in Azure enables customers to leverage PaaS services for application transformation to drive innovation and insights with Cognitive Services, IoT Hub, Stream Analytics, and visualizations using Power BI. You can learn more about running SAP workloads on Azure here.

NCv3 Series

As more and more companies test out AI capabilities, they require the latest, and the most cost-effective infrastructure for every compute job. The GPU optimized NCv3-Series Virtual Machines offer compute power to accelerate high performance computing for scenarios including deep learning and genome modelling, leveraging NVIDIA Tesla V100 GPUs. For example, Healthcare providers, are using these services for DNA sequencing and protein analysis; the oil and gas industry is using them for reservoir modeling. Customers leveraging these GPUs for building speech recognition models found that they trained in less than 20 minutes, instead of the 1-2 hours that previous generation GPUs required. Organizations in all fields are leveraging the power of these new services to create custom machine learning models.

Azure SQL Managed Instance

Azure SQL Database Managed Instance is a fully managed database service, which means that after you lift and shift your SQL databases to Azure, Microsoft will operate SQL Server for you and ensures its availability and performance.

Managed Instances can be deployed and resized at the scale that your business requires.  Azure SQL MI has automatic patching and version updates, automated backups, and high availability (99.99% uptime SLA), that dramatically reduces management overhead and total cost of ownership, providing highest level of security.

Azure SQL DB MI is also the most economical cloud destination for our customers’ SQL Server data as they can save up to 80% of cost by bringing their on-premises SQL Server licenses by leveraging Azure Hybrid Benefit and by reserving capacity for 1 or 3 years.  

 Organizations still running SQL 2008/R2 can extend their legacy database’s life after the end of support date (July 9, 2019) by moving it to Azure SQL MI and benefiting from 3 years of Free Security updates in Azure.

 We are thrilled to be offering our Canadian customers the highest performing services on Azure and look forward to working with Canadian businesses, governments and researchers on the cutting-edge innovation that will come as a result.