Azure IaaS and Azure Stack: announcements and updates (July 2022 – Weeks: 29 and 30)

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.



Virtual machine restore points

VM restore points provides you with a point in time snapshot of all the managed disks attached to your Virtual Machine. Customers and Azure partners who are looking to build business continuity and disaster recovery solutions can use VM restore points to capture app consistent and crash consistent backups natively on the Azure platform. This can then be used to restore disks and VMs during scenarios such as data loss, data corruption, or disaster recovery. 

NVads A10 v5 Virtual Machines

NVads A10 v5 virtual machines (VMs) are now generally available in West Europe, South Central US, and West US3 regions. The NVads A10 v5 VM series enables a wide variety of graphics, video, and AI workloads, including virtual production and visual effects, engineering design and simulation, game development and streaming, virtual desktops/workstations and more. They feature NVIDIA A10 Tensor Core GPUs, up to 72 AMD EPYC™ 74F3-series vCPUs, and are designed to offer the right choice for any workload with optimum configurations for both single user and multi-session environments. 

Azure confidential VMs (DCasv5/ECasv5-series VMs)

Azure confidential VMs are designed to offer a new, hardware-based TEE leveraging SEV-SNP, which hardens guest protections to deny the hypervisor and other host management code access to VM memory and state, protecting against operator access. Azure DCasv5/ECasv5 confidential VMs, utilizing 3rd Gen AMD EPYC processors with Secure Encrypted Virtualization-Secure Nested Paging (SEV-SNP) security features, are available. 

Trusted Launch support for DCsv3 and DCdsv3 series Virtual Machines

Trusted Launch support for DCsv3 and DCdsv3 virtual machines is available. DCsv3 and DCdsv3 series virtual machines provides support for Intel® SGX. With all new hardware-based security paradigm is now just a few clicks away in Azure to deploy DCsv3 virtual machines with trusted launch feature.


Live resize for Premium SSD and Standard SSD Disk Storage

Resizing a disk on Azure can provide increased storage capacity and better performance for your applications. As part of our commitment to continuously add new capabilities to our Azure Disk Storage portfolio, live resize for Premium SSD and Standard SSD Disk Storage is now generally available. With live resize, you can dynamically increase the storage capacity of your Premium SSD and Standard SSD disks without causing any disruption to your applications. To reduce costs, you can start with smaller disks and gradually increase their storage capacity without experiencing any downtime.

Azure Premium SSD v2 Disk Storage (preview)

The next generation of Microsoft Azure Premium SSD Disk Storage is available in preview. This new disk offering provides the most advanced block storage solution designed for a broad range of input/output (IO)-intensive enterprise production workloads that require sub-millisecond disk latencies as well as high input/output operations per second (IOPS) and throughput at a low cost. With Premium SSD v2, you can now provision up to 64TiBs of storage capacity, 80,000 IOPS, and 1,200 MBPS throughput on a single disk. With best-in-class IOPS and bandwidth, Premium SSD v2 provides the most flexible and scalable general-purpose block storage in the cloud, enabling you to meet the ever-growing demands of your production workloads such as SQL Server, Oracle, MariaDB, SAP, Cassandra, Mongo DB, big data, analytics, gaming, on virtual machines, or stateful containers. Moreover, with Premium SSD v2, you can provision granular disk sizes, IOPS, and throughput independently based on your workload needs, providing you more flexibility in managing performance and costs.


TLS 1.3 support on Application Gateway (preview)

The new Predefined and CustomV2 policies on Application Gateway come with TLS v1.3 support. They provide improved security and performance benefits, fulfilling the needs of your enterprise security policies. You may use out-of-the-box predefined policies or configure a preferred cipher-suite list by using the CustomV2 policy.

Azure Stack

Azure Stack HCI

Azure Marketplace for Arc-enabled Azure Stack HCI (preview)

Azure Marketplace for Arc-enabled Azure Stack HCI makes it easy and convenient to download the latest fully patched image to your cluster with just a few clicks in the Azure Portal. This preview focuses on Windows 11 Enterprise multi-session, the image used by Azure Virtual Desktop, and Windows Server 2022 Datacenter Azure Edition, which enables hot-patching (reboot-less patching) for on-premises VMs. More images will follow in the coming months. This preview is available for all in-market Azure Stack HCI.

Remote support for Arc-enabled Azure Stack HCI (preview)

When opening a case, you can now grant Microsoft support engineers remote access to your cluster to gather logs of perform remediation steps themselves. This reduces the back-and-forth that’s typical with on-premises support. New PowerShell cmdlets and Windows Admin Center tools let you precisely control and audit the access that support engineers get, including time limits, allow-listing cmdlets, and comprehensive auditing that’s always on.

Arc-enabled guest VMs with extensions for Azure Stack HCI (preview)

When you deploy a new virtual machine through Azure Arc onto Azure Stack HCI, the guest operating system is now automatically enrolled as an Arc-enabled server instance. This means you can use popular VM extensions like Custom Script to perform configuration inside the VM (like installing an application) as part of VM deployment. To illustrate the usefulness of this capability, Microsoft is providing a sample custom script extension that enrolls a VM into an Azure Virtual Desktop session host pool, eliminating manual configuration of the guest agent as its own step. This preview is available for all in-market Arc-enabled Azure Stack HCI.

Azure Stack HCI version 22H2 (preview)

The operating system at the heart of Azure Stack HCI gets a major update with new features and enhancements every year. Next month, the first significant preview of version 22H2 will become available to clusters enrolled in the public Preview channel. Like version 21H2, the new version 22H2 will be available as a free, non-disruptive, over-the-air update for all subscribers when it reaches general availability later this year. Content-wise, the update is focused on fundamental improvements to the core hypervisor, storage, and networking.

Storage replication in stretch clusters is faster, and you can convert existing volumes from fixed provisioning to thin provisioning.

Network ATC has gained new abilities, including automatic IP addressing for storage networks, support for stretch clusters, and better network proxy support.

Hyper-V live migration is faster and more reliable for switchless 2-node and 3-node clusters.

And for new installations, version 22H2 starts with a stronger default security posture, including a stronger set of protocols and cipher suites, Secured-Core Server, Windows Defender application control, and other well-known security features enabled by default right from the start.

Azure Stack Hub

Azure Well-Architected Framework Assessments (preview)

Two pillars of the Well-Architected Framework are available in Preview for Azure Stack Hub on the Microsoft Assessment Platform: Reliability and Operational Excellence. If you are using Azure Stack Hub to deploy and operate workloads for key business systems, it is now possible to answers questions for these pillars within the assessments platform. After completing the assessments, you will be provided with a maturity or risk score, together with prescriptive guidance and knowledge links that suggest possible improvements you could make to your architecture design and score.

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