Azure IaaS and Azure Stack: announcements and updates (March 2023 – Weeks: 09 and 10)

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 VMware Solution in Microsoft Azure Government (preview)

Azure VMware Solution is a fully managed service in Azure that customers can use to extend their on-premises VMware workloads more seamlessly to the cloud, while maintaining their existing skills and operational processes. Azure VMware Solution is already available in Azure commercial for any customer, including public sector organizations. With this launch, Microsoft is extending the same benefits of Azure VMware Solution to Azure Government, where US Government customers and their partners can meet their security and compliance needs.

Spot Priority Mix

Spot Priority Mix is a new feature for Virtual Machine Scale Sets (VMSS) with Flexible Orchestration Mode enabled. With Spot Priority Mix, customers can now mix spot and standard virtual machines in their Flexible scale set, providing the high availability of standard virtual machines and the cost savings of Spot virtual machines. This feature also allows customers to autoscale their scale set with a percentage split of Spot and standard virtual machines, providing even more flexibility and cost optimization. With Spot Priority Mix, customers can specify a base number of standard virtual machines and a percentage split of spot and standard virtual machines to be used when the scale set capacity is above the base number of standard virtual machines. This allows customers to ensure that their critical workloads are always running on standard virtual machines, while taking advantage of the cost savings offered by spot virtual machines for non-critical, interruptible workloads.


Azure Network Watcher: new enhanced connection troubleshoot

As customers bring sophisticated, high-performance workloads into Azure, there is a critical need for increased visibility and control over the operational state of complex networks running these workloads. One such day-to-day common occurring scenario is connectivity.

Although Microsoft Azure Network Watcher provides numerous specialized standalone tools to diagnose and troubleshoot connectivity cases. These tools include:

  • IP Flow Verify – helping detect blocked traffic due to network security group (NSG) rules restriction
  • Next Hop – determine intended traffic as per the rules of the effective route
  • Port Scanner – helping determine any port blocking traffic.

With a one-stop solution to all disjointed operations and actionable insights at the fingertips, the new comprehensive and improved Network Watcher connection troubleshoot aims to reduce mean time to resolution and improve your experience.

New features:

  • Unified solution for troubleshooting all NSG, user defined routes, and blocked ports
  • Actionable insights with step-by-step guide to resolve issues
  • Identifying configuration issues impacting connectivity
  • NSG rules that are blocking traffic
  • Inability to open a socket at the specified source port
  • No servers listening on designated destination ports
  • Misconfigured or missing routes

Scale improvements and metrics enhancements on Azure’s regional WAF

You can now do more with less using the increased scale limits for Azure’s regional Web Application Firewall (WAF) running on Application Gateway. These increased scale limits allow you greater flexibility, and scale, when configuring your WAF to meet the needs of your applications and network. Application Gateway v2 WAF enabled SKUs running Core Rule Set (CRS) 3.2 or higher now supports a higher number of frontend ports, HTTP load-balancing rules, backend HTTP settings, SSL certificates, number of sites, and redirect configurations. The regional WAF also increased the number of HTTP listeners from 40 to 200. You can leverage the new metrics for Azure’s regional v2 WAF when you use CRS 3.2 or higher, or if your WAF has bot protection and geo-filtering enabled. The regional WAF now allows you to filter the metrics total requests, managed rule matches, custom rule matches, and bot protection matches by the dimensions policy name, policy scope and ruleset name, in addition to the already existing dimensions that the WAF supports.

Azure Virtual Network Manager Event Logging (preview)

Azure Virtual Network Manager (AVNM) event logging is now available for public preview. AVNM is a highly scalable and available network management solution that allows you to simplify network management across subscriptions globally. With this new feature, you can monitor changes in network group membership by accessing event logs. Whenever a virtual network is added to or removed from a network group, a corresponding log is emitted for that specific addition or removal. You can view and interact with these logs using Azure Monitor’s Log Analytics tool in the Azure Portal, or you can store them in your storage account, or send them to an event hub or partner solution.


More transactions at no additional cost for Azure Standard SSD

Microsoft has made changes to the billable transaction costs per hour that can result in additional cost savings. The total cost of Azure Standard SSD storage depends on the size, number of disks, and the number of transactions. Any transactions that exceed the maximum hourly limit will not incur additional charges. New prices took effect on March 6th, 2023.

Customer Initiated Storage Account Conversion

Microsoft is now supporting the self-service ability to convert storage accounts from non-zonal redundancy (LRS/GRS) to zonal redundancy (ZRS/GZRS). You can now save time by initiating a storage account conversion directly through Azure Portal rather than creating a support ticket. Converting your storage account to zonal redundancy allows you to increase your intra-regional resiliency and availability.

Online live resize of persistent volumes

Live resizing capability allows you to dynamically scale up your persistent volumes without application downtime. Previously, in order to resize the disk, you had to scale down your deployment to zero pods, wait several minutes for the disk to detach, update your persistent volume claim, and then scale back up the deployment. With Live resize of persistent volumes, you can just modify your persistent volume claim directly, avoiding any application downtime.

Azure Ultra Disk Storage in the China North 3 Azure region

Azure Ultra Disk Storage is now available in the China North 3 Azure region. Azure Ultra Disk Storage offers high throughput, high input/output operations per second (IOPS), and consistent low latency disk storage for Azure Virtual Machines. Ultra Disk Storage is well-suited for data-intensive workloads such as SAP HANA, top-tier databases, and transaction-heavy workloads.

Azure Archive Storage now available in West US 3

Azure Archive Storage provides a secure, low-cost means for retaining rarely accessed data including backup and archival storage. Now, Azure Archive Storage is available in West US 3.

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