Azure IaaS and Azure Stack: announcements and updates (May 2019 – Weeks: 19 and 20)

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

Public IP Prefix

A Public IP prefix is a reserved range of static IP addresses that can be assigned to your subscription. You can use a prefix to simplify IP address management in Azure. Knowledge of the range ahead of time eliminates the need to change firewall rules as you assign IP addresses to new resources. This predictability significantly reduces management overhead when scaling in Azure. Public IP Prefix is available in all Azure public regions, Government cloud regions and China cloud regions.

Azure Premium Files preview

Azure Premium Files preview is available. Premium Files is a new performance tier for Azure Files, which is designed for IO intensive workloads with low latency and higher throughput requirements. Premium files storage provides consistent low latency and offers high throughput and IOPS that scales with your storage. Premium tier provides 20x capacity, 100x IOPS and 170x throughput as compared to the existing standard tier. For more details, see the Premium Files redefines limits for Azure Files blog.

Update rollup for Azure File Sync Agent: May 2019

An update rollup for the Azure File Sync agent was released today.

Improvements and issues that are fixed:

  • Windows Admin Center fails to display the agent version and server endpoint configuration on servers which have Azure File Sync agent version 6.0 installed.

More information about this update rollup:

  • This update is available for Windows Server 2012 R2, Windows Server 2016 and Windows Server 2019 installations that have Azure File Sync agent version 4.0.1.0 or later installed.
  • The agent version of this update rollup is 6.1.0.0.
  • A restart may be required if files are in use during the update rollup installation.
  • Installation instructions are documented in KB4489737.

Azure File Sync is supported in West US 2 and West Central US

Azure File Sync is now supported in West US 2 and West Central US

Azure Cost Management multi-cloud for AWS is in preview

Azure Cost Management for AWS is now in public preview and you can manage your AWS spend along your Azure spend in Azure Cost Management. Features like cost analysis and budgets are availble as part of this feature as well, helping simplify your cost management practice on multi-cloud scenarios.

Advanced Threat Protection for Azure Storage is generally available

Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) for Azure Storage provides an additional layer of security intelligence that detects unusual and potentially harmful attempts to access or exploit storage accounts. This layer of protection allows you to protect and address concerns about potential threats to your storage accounts as they occur, without needing to be an expert in security. To learn more, see Advanced Threat Protection for Azure Storage  or read about the ATP for Storage price in Azure Security Center pricing page.

Ephemeral OS Disk in Public Preview

Ephemeral OS disks work well for stateless workloads, where applications are tolerant of individual VM failures and are more concerned about the time it takes to deploy at scale or to reimage the individual VMs. In addition, Ephemeral OS disk is free i.e., you incur no storage cost for the Ephemeral OS disk.

Azure Serial Console updated

The Azure Serial Console is an invaluable tool in troubleshooting scenarios where you may be unable to connect to your VM. In addition to VMs, you may now use the Serial Console to troubleshoot and diagnose connectivity issues with your Virtual Machine Scale Set (VMSS) instances. To use Serial Console on a VMSS instance, enable boot diagnostics on the VMSS model and ensure that your instances have been upgraded to the latest model. Use Serial Console just as you would with a VM to troubleshoot and diagnose connectivity issues. In addition, improved language support means that you can now troubleshoot your VMs and VMSS instances in a variety of languages.

Adaptive network hardening in public preview

One of the biggest attack surfaces for workloads running in the public cloud are connections to and from the public Internet. Our customers find it hard to know which Network Security Group (NSG) rules should be in place to make sure that Azure workloads are only available to required source ranges. With this feature, Security Center learns the network traffic and connectivity patterns of Azure workloads and provides NSG rule recommendations, for Internet facing virtual machines. This helps our customer better configure their network access policies and limit their exposure to attacks. 

Azure ExpressRoute is generally available in additional locations

Azure ExpressRoute lets you extend your on-premises networks into the Microsoft cloud over a private connection facilitated by a connectivity provider. The ExpressRoute footprint is expanding to eight new locations:

  • Amsterdam2
  • Frankfurt
  • London2
  • Perth
  • Silicon Valley2
  • Taipei
  • Washington DC2
  • Zurich

Red Hat Enterprise Linux BYOS images now available

Red Hat Enterprise Linux images are now available as both BYOS and PAYG offers.

Azure Lab Services update: Address range feature available

In Azure Lab Services was added the ability to provide address range of virtual machines for the labs. This is useful for scenarios where licensing servers for an application on the lab virtual machines only accept a specific range of IP addresses.

Azure Virtual Machine PowerOff available with fast shutdown

The Azure Compute Virtual Machines API has now been updated to allow users to forcefully skip the graceful shutdown period when executing a power off command. This may be useful in situations where a VM may need to be quickly powered off and the risk for data loss or corruption can be ignored. To use this feature, ensure the skipShutdown flag is added to your API or SDK calls.

High-Performance Computing Virtual Machines in new regions

HB-series, designed to provide supercomputer-grade performance and scalability with the best price-performance on the public cloud, are Generally Available in South Central US and Western Europe.

Reserved instance pricing in the Dev/Test Offer

Reserved instances discounts are available for VMs and Azure SQL Database instances created in Dev/Test offer subscriptions. Dev/Test offer provides you a cost-effective way to run your development and testing workloads and with the support of Reserved instances, you can enjoy additional savings and have more purchase controls for your development and test workloads.