Azure IaaS and Azure Stack: announcements and updates (February 2019 – Weeks: 07 and 08)

This series of blog posts includes the most important announcements and major updates regarding Azure infrastructure as a service (IaaS) and Azure Stack, officialized by Microsoft in the last two weeks.

Azure

Serial console for Azure Virtual Machines (feature update)

The serial console for Azure Virtual Machines enables you to reboot your VM from within the console experience. This ability will help you if you want to reboot a stuck VM or enter the boot menu of your VM.

Azure File Sync v5 release

Improvements and issues that are fixed:

  • Support for Azure Government cloud
    • Added preview support for the Azure Government cloud. This requires a white-listed subscription and a special agent download from Microsoft.
  • Support for Data Deduplication
    • Data Deduplication is now fully supported with cloud tiering enabled on Windows Server 2016 and Windows Server 2019. Enabling deduplication on a volume with cloud tiering enabled lets you cache more files on-premises without provisioning more storage.
  • Support for offline data transfer (e.g. via Data Box)
    • Easily migrate large amounts of data into Azure File Sync via any means you choose. You can choose Azure Data Box, AzCopy and even third party migration services. No need to use massive amounts of bandwidth to get your data into Azure, in the case of Data Box.
  • Improved sync performance
    • Customers with multiple server endpoints on the same volume may have experienced slow sync performance prior to this release. Azure File Sync creates a temporary VSS snapshot once a day on the server to sync files that have open handles. Sync now supports multiple server endpoints syncing on a volume when a VSS sync session is active. No more waiting for a VSS sync session to complete so sync can resume on other server endpoints on the volume.
  • Improved monitoring in the portal
    • Charts have been added in the Storage Sync Service portal to view:
      • Number of files synced
      • Size of data transferred
      • Number of files not syncing
      • Size of data recalled
      • Agent connectivity status
  • Improved scalability and reliability
    • Maximum number of file system objects (directories and files) in a directory has increased to 1,000,000. Previous limit was 200,000.
    • Sync will try to resume data transfer rather than retransmitting when a transfer is interrupted for large files

Agent installation notes:

  • The Azure File Sync agent is supported on Windows Server 2012 R2, Windows Server 2016, and Windows Server 2019.
  • Azure File Sync agent version 4.0.1.0 or a later version is required to upgrade existing agent installations.
  • A restart may be required if files are in use during the installation.
  • The agent version for the v5 release is 5.0.2.0.

Installation instructions are documented in KB4459989.

Service tags are available in Azure Firewall network rules

A service tag represents a group of IP address prefixes to help minimize complexity for security rule creation. You cannot create your own service tag, nor specify which IP addresses are included within a tag. Microsoft manages the address prefixes encompassed by the service tag, and automatically updates the service tag as addresses change. Azure Firewall service tags can be used in the network rules destination field. You can use them in place of specific IP addresses. Service tags are fully supported in all public regions using PowerShell/REST/CLI by simply including the tag string in a network rule destination field. Portal support is being rolled out and will incrementally be available in all public regions in the near future.