Azure IaaS and Azure Stack: announcements and updates (July 2021 – Weeks: 27 and 28)

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.



Free Extended Security Updates only on Azure for Windows Server 2012/R2and SQL Server 2012

On-premises Windows Server and SQL Server customers looking to migrate and modernize can take advantage of the extension of free Extended Security Updates (ESUs) for Windows Server 2012/R2 and SQL Server 2012, as follows:

  • Windows Server 2012 and 2012 R2 Extended Support (ESU) will end on October 10, 2023. Extended Support for SQL Server 2012 ends July 12, 2022. Customers that cannot meet this deadline can protect their apps and data running on these releases for three additional years when they migrate to Windows Server and SQL Server on Azure and take advantage of free ESUs on Azure. Customers running Windows Server and SQL Server on these releases and on-premises will have the option to purchase ESUs.
  • Windows Server and SQL Server 2008 and 2008 R2 three-year ESUs are coming to an end on January 10, 2023, and July 12, 2022, respectively. Customers who need more time to migrate and modernize will be able to take advantage of a Windows Server and SQL Server 2008 and 2008 R2 on Azure, we will now provide one addiitonal year of extended security updates only on Azure.

Virtual Machine (VM) bursting is now generally available on more VM types

Virtual machine level disk bursting is a now enabled for our Dsv4, Dasv4, Ddsv4, Esv4, Easv4, Edsv4, Fsv2 and B-series VM families, which allows your virtual machine to burst its disk IO and MiB/s throughput performance for a short time daily. This enables your VMs to handle unforeseen spikey disk traffic smoothly and process batched jobs with speed. There is no additional cost associated with this new capability or adjustments on the VM pricing and it comes enabled by default.

HPC Cache on E-Series VMs Support of Blob NFS 3.0

The Azure Blob team recently announced that Blob NFS 3.0 protocol support is generally available and now, Azure HPC Cache will follow suit with general availability using E-Series VMs.


Azure File Sync agent v13

The Azure File Sync agent v13 release is being flighted to servers which are configured to automatically update when a new version becomes available.

Improvements and issues that are fixed in the v13 release:

  • Authoritative upload. Authoritative upload is a new mode available when creating the first server endpoint in a sync group. It is useful for the scenario where the cloud (Azure file share) has some/most of the data but is outdated and needs to be caught up with the more recent data on the new server endpoint. This is the case in offline migration scenarios like DataBox, for instance. When a DataBox is filled and sent to Azure, the users of the local server will keep changing / adding / deleting files on the local server. That makes the data in the DataBox and thus the Azure file share, slightly outdated. With Authoritative Upload, you can now tell the server and cloud, how to resolve this case and get the cloud seamlessly updated with the latest changes on the server. No matter how the data got to the cloud, this mode can update the Azure file share if the data stems from the matching location on the server. Be sure to avoid large directory restructures between the initial copy to the cloud and catching up with Authoritative Upload. This will ensure you are only transporting updates. Changes to directory names will cause all files in these renamed directories to be uploaded again. This functionality is comparable to semantics of RoboCopy /MIR = mirror source to target, including removing files on the target that no longer exist on the source. Authoritative Upload replaces the “Offline Data Transfer” feature for DataBox integration with Azure File Sync via a staging share. A staging share is no longer required to use DataBox. New Offline Data Transfer jobs can no longer be started with the AFS V13 agent. Existing jobs on a server will continue even with the upgrade to agent version 13.
  • Portal improvements to view cloud change enumeration and sync progress. When a new sync group is created, any connected server endpoint can only begin sync, when cloud change enumeration is complete. In case files already exist in the cloud endpoint (Azure file share) of this sync group, change enumeration of content in the cloud can take some time. The more items (files and folders) exist in the namespace, the longer this process can take. Admins will now be able to obtain cloud change enumeration progress in the Azure portal to estimate an eta for completion / sync to start with servers.
  • Support for server rename. If a registered server is renamed, Azure File Sync will now show the new server name in the portal. If the server was renamed prior to the v13 release, the server name in the portal will now be updated to show the correct server name.
  • Support for Windows Server 2022 Preview. The Azure File Sync agent is now supported on Windows Server 2022 Preview build 20348 or later. Note: Windows Server 2022 adds support for TLS 1.3 which is not currently supported by Azure File Sync. If the TLS settings are managed via group policy, the server must be configured to support TLS 1.2.
  • Miscellaneous improvements:
    • Reliability improvements for sync, cloud tiering and cloud change enumeration.
    • If a large number of files is changed on the server, sync upload is now performed from a VSS snapshot which reduces per-item errors and sync session failures.
    • The Invoke-StorageSyncFileRecall cmdlet will now recall all tiered files associated with a server endpoint, even if the file has moved outside the server endpoint location.
    • Explorer.exe is now excluded from cloud tiering last access time tracking.
    • New telemetry (Event ID 6664) to monitor the orphaned tiered files cleanup progress after removing a server endpoint with cloud tiering enabled.

To obtain and install this update, configure your Azure File Sync agent to automatically update when a new version becomes available or manually download the update from the Microsoft Update Catalog.

More information about this release:

  • This release is available for Windows Server 2012 R2, Windows Server 2016, Windows Server 2019 and Windows Server 2022 Preview installations.
  • A restart is required for servers that have an existing Azure File Sync agent installation if the agent version is less than version 12.0.
  • The agent version for this release is
  • Installation instructions are documented in KB4588753.

Azure Blob storage: container Soft Delete

Administrators can set a retention policy and recover data from a deletion of a blob container without contacting support.

HPC Cache for NVME-based Storage, Storage Target Management, and HIPAA Compliance

The latest release of HPC Cache adds support for high throughput VMs as well as enhancements to storage target operations.

Disk pool for Azure VMware Solution (preview)

With disk pool, Azure VMware Solution customers can now access Azure Disk Storage for high-performance, durable block storage. Customer can scale their storage independent of compute and handle their growing data needs more cost-effectively.


Azure Bastion Standard SKU public (preview)

With the new Azure Bastion Standard SKU, you can now perform/configure the following: 

  • Manually scale Bastion host Virtual Machine instances: Azure Bastion supports manual scaling of the Virtual Machine (VM) instances facilitating Bastion connectivity. You can configure 2-50 instances to manage the number of concurrent SSH and RDP sessions Azure Bastion can support. 

  • Azure Bastion admin panel: Azure Bastion supports enabling/disabling features accessed by the Bastion host. 

Azure Web Application Firewall: OWASP ModSecurity Core Rule Set 3.2 (preview)

Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP) ModSecurity Core Rule Set 3.2 (CRS 3.2) for Azure Web Application Firewall (WAF) deployments running on Application Gateway is in preview. This release offers improved security from web vulnerabilities, reduced false positives, and improvements to performance. Microsoft is also announcing an increase in the file upload limit and request body size limit to 4GB and 2MB respectively.

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