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 Hybrid Benefit for Linux with RI and VMSS Support
Azure Hybrid Benefit is available for Linux, extending the ability to easily migrate RHEL and SLES servers to Azure beyond existing pay-as-you-go instances to include support for Azure Reserved Instance (RI) and virtual machine scale set (VMSS).
While previous Bring-Your-Own-Subscription cloud migration options available to Red Hat and SUSE customers allowed them to use their pre-existing RHEL and SLES subscriptions in the cloud, Azure Hybrid Benefit for Linux improves upon this with several capabilities unique to Azure making enterprise Linux cloud migration even easier than before:
- Applies to all Red Hat Enterprise Linux and SUSE Linux Enterprise Server pay-as-you-go images available in the Azure Marketplace or Azure Portal. No need to provide your own image.
- Save time with seamless post-deployment conversions—production redeployment is unnecessary. Simply convert the pay-as-you-go images used during your proof-of-concept testing to bring-your-own-subscription billing.
- Lower ongoing operational costs with automatic image maintenance, updates, and patches: Microsoft maintains the converted RHEL and SLES images for you.
- Enjoy the convenience of unified user interface integration with the Azure CLI, providing the same UI as other Azure virtual machines, as well as scalable batch conversions.
- Get co-located technical support from Azure, Red Hat, and SUSE with just one ticket.
- Combine with recently announced Red Hat and SUSE support for Azure shared disks to lift-and-shift failover clusters and parallel file systems, like Global File System.
- Fully compatible with Azure Arc, providing end-to-end hybrid cloud operations management for Windows, RHEL, and SLES servers in one solution.
New Azure VMs for general purpose and memory intensive workloads (preview)
The new Dv5, Dsv5, Ddv5, Ddsv5, and Ev5, Edv5 series Azure Virtual Machines, now in preview, are based on the 3rd Generation Intel® Xeon® Platinum 8370C (Ice Lake) processor in a hyper-threaded configuration. This custom processor can reach an all-core Turbo clock speed of up to 3.5GHz and features Intel® Turbo Boost Technology 2.0, Intel® Advanced Vector Extensions 512 (Intel® AVX-512) and Intel® Deep Learning Boost. These new offerings deliver a better value proposition for general-purpose, and memory intensive workloads compared to the prior generation (e.g., increased scalability and an upgraded CPU class) including better price to performance.
The Dv5, Dsv5, Ddv5, Ddsv5 VM sizes offer a combination of vCPUs and memory able to meet the requirements associated with most general-purpose workloads and can scale up to 96 vCPUs. The Ddv5 and Ddsv5 VM sizes feature high performance, large local SSD storage (up to 2,400 GiB). The Dv5 and Dsv5 VM series offer a lower price of entry since they do not feature any local temporary storage. If you require temporary storage select the latest Ddv5 or Ddsv5 Azure virtual machines, which are also in Preview.
The Ev5 and Edv5 VM sizes feature up to 672 GiB of RAM and are ideal for memory-intensive enterprise applications. You can attach Standard SSDs and Standard HDDs disk storage to these VMs. If you prefer to use Premium SSD or Ultra Disk storage, please select the Esv5 and Edsv5 VM series, which will be in preview in the near future. The Ev5 and Esv5 VMs offer a lower price of entry since they do not feature any local temporary storage. If you require temporary storage select the latest Edv5 VM series which are also in preview, or the Edsv5 VM series, which will be in preview in the near future.
New NPv1 virtual machines
NPv1 series virtual machines are a new addition to the Azure product offering. These instances are powered by Xilinx Alveo U250 FPGAS. These highly-programmable accelerators benefit a variety of computationally intensive workloads such as genomics, image-processing, security, data analysis and more. The NP series offering is based upon the commercially available U250 from Xilinx and uses a standard shell easing the difficulties of migrating existing FPGA workloads & solutions to the cloud. New Xilinx Alveo U250 FPGA NPv1 VMs are now generally available in West US 2, East US, West Europe, and Southeast Asia.
Microsoft acquires Kinvolk to accelerate container-optimized innovation
Microsoft is excited to bring the expertise of the Kinvolk team to Azure and having them become key contributors to the engineering development of Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS), Azure Arc, and future projects that will expand Azure’s hybrid container platform capabilities and increase Microsoft’s upstream open source contributions in the Kubernetes and container space. Microsoft is also committed to maintaining and building upon Kinvolk’s open source culture. The Kinvolk team will continue to remain active in their existing open source projects and will be essential to driving further collaboration between Azure engineering teams and the larger open source container community.
Azure Blob storage: NFS 3.0 protocol support public preview now expands to all regions
Azure Blob storage is the only public cloud storage platform that supports NFS 3.0 protocol over object storage natively (no gateway or data copying required), with object storage economics. This new level of support is optimized for high-throughput, read-heavy workloads where data will be ingested once and minimally modified further, such as large-scale analytic data, backup and archive, media processing, genomic sequencing, and line-of-business applications. Azure Blob Storage NFS 3.0 preview supports general purpose v2 (GPV2) storage accounts with standard tier performance in all publicly available regions. Further, Microsoft is enabling a set of Azure blob storage features in premium blockblob accounts with NFS 3.0 feature enabled such as blob service REST API and lifecycle management.
Attribute-based Access Control (ABAC) in preview
Attribute-based access control (ABAC) is an authorization strategy that defines access levels based on attributes associated with security principals, resources, requests, and the environment. Azure ABAC builds on role-based access control (RBAC) by adding conditions to Azure role assignments in the existing identity and access management (IAM) system. This preview includes support for role assignment conditions on Blobs and ADLS Gen2, and enables you to author conditions based on resource and request attributes.
Prevent Shared Key authorization for an Azure Storage account
Every secure request to an Azure Storage account must be authorized. By default, requests can be authorized with either Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) credentials, or by using the account access key for Shared Key authorization. Of these two types of authorization, Azure AD provides superior security and ease of use over Shared Key and is recommended by Microsoft. To require clients to use Azure AD to authorize requests, you can disallow requests to the storage account that are authorized with Shared Key. Microsoft is announcing the general availability of the ability to disable Shared Key authorization for Azure Storage.
Append blob support in Azure Data Lake Storage
Append blobs provide a simple and effective way of adding new content to the end of a file or blob when the existing content does not need to be modified. This makes append blobs great for applications such as logging that need to add information to existing files efficiently and continuously. Until now, only block blobs were supported in Azure Data Lake Storage accounts. Applications can now also create append blobs in these accounts and write to them using Append Block operations. These append blobs can be read using existing Blob APIs and Azure Data Lake Storage APIs.
Multiple features for Azure VPN Gateway
The following features for Azure VPN Gateway are general available:
- Multiple authentication types for point-to-site VPN – You can now enable multiple authentication types on a single gateway for OpenVPN tunnel type. Azure AD, certificate-based and RADIUS can all be enabled on a single gateway.
- BGP diagnostics – You can now see the Border Gateway Protocol session status, route advertised and routes learnt by the VPN Gateway.
- VPN packet capture in Azure portal – Support for packet capture on the VPN Gateway is now availbe in the Azure portal.
- VPN connection management – With new enhancements in VPN connection management capabilities, you can now reset an individual connection instead of resseting the whole gateway. You can also set the Internet Key Exchange (IKE) mode of the gateway to responder-only, initiator-only or both and view the Security Association (SA) of a connection.