Microsoft Launches Apache Spark for Azure HDInsight

The public preview of Spark for Azure HDInsight was released 12 months ago and now Microsoft has announced its general availability as well as extending Cortana’s offering to the Xbox.

spark  Microsoft announces the general availability of Apache Spark for Azure HDInsight. Features of the new services include new capabilities to the YARN resource manager to create an open source Apache licensed REST web service, as well as integrations between Spark and Azure Data Lake Store to increase scalability, Spark and Data Lake Store to increase security, Jupyter (in Python) notebooks and Power BI to build interactive visualizations over data of any size.

“Since we announced the public preview, Spark for HDInsight has gained rapid adoption and is now 50% of all new HDInsight clusters deployed,” said Chiu. “With General Availability, we are revealing improvements we’ve made to the service to make Spark hardened for the enterprise and easy for your users. This includes improvements to the availability, scalability, and productivity of our managed Spark service.”

Alongside the Spark announcement, the Microsoft team has also ventured into the consumer AI market as Cortana will now be available on Xbox One, Xbox Live and Windows Stores. Starting with a limited Xbox Preview audience for Xbox One, the offering will be more widely released to the Xbox app (beta) on Windows 10 over the course of the summer.

Starting out with U.S., U.K., France, Italy, Germany and Spain, Cortana voice commands on Xbox One will work with both headsets and Kinect. Firstly, users will be able to find new games, see what your friends are up to, start a party and accomplish common tasks, though new features will be added over time.

“As an industry, we are on the cusp of a new frontier that pairs the power of natural human language with advanced machine intelligence,” said Nadella. “At Microsoft, we call this Conversation as a Platform, and it builds on and extends the power of the Microsoft Azure, Office 365 and Windows platforms to empower developers everywhere.”

The Cortana Intelligence Suite, which was launched at the event, allows developers to build apps and bots which interact with customers in a personalized way, but also react to real-world developments in real-time. The company claims the Hadoop and Spark cloud service is now an enterprise-ready solution which is fully managed, secured, and highly available.

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