Microsoft Lures Mobile App Developers With Azure Search

Azure Search is now generally available, bringing with it natural language support and new indexers that glean information from more data sources.

Azure Search

Microsoft's "search-as-a-service" for Web and mobile app developers is ready for prime time.

Azure Search, available in preview since last summer, is now generally available, announced Tiffany Wissner, a senior director in Microsoft's Data Platform unit, on March 5. Microsoft is billing the cloud-based service for developers as a shortcut to rich research experiences on smartphones, tablets and browser-based apps.

"It reduces the friction and complexity of implementing full-text search and helps developers differentiate their applications through powerful features not available with other search packages," boasted Wissner in an official SQL Server Blog post. Among those features is support for plain-spoken search queries in several languages.

Wissner said her group had incorporated "enhanced multi-language support for more than 50 languages built on our many years of natural language processing experience from products like Microsoft Office and Bing." Developers can also more readily tap into other Azure-backed data sources, she said.

"With general availability, Azure Search now offers customers the ability to more easily load data from Azure DocumentDB, Azure SQL Database, and SQL Server running in Azure VMs [virtual machines] in to Azure Search using new indexers," she continued. Also new in this release is a .NET software development kit (SDK) "to make working with Azure Search a more familiar experience."

In related news, Wissner revealed that DocumentDB, Microsoft's cloud-based NoSQL document service, is scheduled to be generally available on April 8, enabling customers to build Web-scale applications that stretch across the globe.

"Offered in units that scale to meet application performance and storage needs, Azure DocumentDB allows customers to quickly build, grow, and scale cloud applications," said Wissner. "The global reach of Azure datacenters ensures that data can scale with the global growth of the application."

At its official launch, Azure DocumentDB will be available in three performance levels (S1, S2 and S3). "Collections of data within a DocumentDB database can be assigned to different performance levels allowing you to purchase only the performance you need," she noted.

Also in preview since last summer, DocumentDB has already been tested in a variety of scenarios, including some consumer-facing apps, Wissner revealed.

"In preview, DocumentDB has been used for a wide variety of scenarios including telemetry and logging data, event and workflow data, device and app configuration data, and user-generated content," she said. This includes News Republic, a free mobile app that delivers individualized news updates to over 1 million users across 15 countries. News Republic "uses Azure DocumentDB to make its app more interactive and create more user-focused features."

For customers requiring more processing power for their cloud apps, Microsoft also announced the availability of two new compute-intensive VM instances, A10 (eight virtual cores and 56GB of RAM) and A11 (16 virtual cores and 112GB of RAM). "With these instances, customers can run compute-intensive applications that do video encoding, risk modeling, engineering analyses, and more," said Microsoft.

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the network of...