This blog post series highlights the key announcements and major updates related to Azure Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Azure Stack, as officially released by Microsoft in the past two weeks.
Azure Integration with Canonical’s Snapshot Service (preview)
Microsoft has announced a public preview of Azure’s integration with Canonical’s Snapshot Service, marking a significant step forward in the deployment of secure and resilient Canonical workloads on Azure. This collaboration positions Azure as the first cloud provider to integrate with Canonical’s snapshot service. The integration aims to streamline the update process for Linux operating systems, enhancing security and reliability across Azure services. The Azure Guest Patching Service (AzGPS) and Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS) will utilize this new feature to apply consistent updates across different regions using Safe Deployment Principles (SDP). This initiative underscores Microsoft’s commitment to providing a secure and up-to-date environment for Linux-based applications on Azure.
Extension of Azure Compute Reservations Exchange Period
Microsoft Azure has announced a significant extension of the exchange period for Azure Compute Reservations, which includes Azure Reserved Virtual Machine Instances, Azure Dedicated Host reservations, and Azure App Services reservations. Initially set to end on January 1, 2024, the exchange period has been extended until at least July 1, 2024. This extension provides an additional grace period, allowing users to exchange their Azure Compute Reservations to better suit their resource needs and planning. Launched in October 2022, the Azure Savings Plan for Compute aims to offer greater flexibility, accommodating changes such as virtual machine series and regions. After the grace period, it will no longer be possible to exchange instance series or regions for the mentioned reservations. Users can choose to convert their Azure Compute Reservations into a savings plan or continue to use and purchase reservations for predictable and stable workloads.
Default Rule Set 2.1 for Regional WAF with Application Gateway
Microsoft Azure has reached a new milestone with the general availability of Default Rule Set (DRS) 2.1 for the regional Web Application Firewall (WAF) on Azure Application Gateway. This release is based on the Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP) Core Rule Set (CRS) 3.3.2 and is enhanced with additional proprietary protection rules developed by the Microsoft Threat Intelligence team. The team’s analysis of Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVEs) has been instrumental in adapting the CRS to address these vulnerabilities while minimizing false positives. This update reflects Microsoft’s dedication to providing robust security measures for applications deployed on Azure, ensuring that they are safeguarded against a wide array of threats.
Azure Bastion for Developers (Preview)
Azure Bastion now offers a developer-focused preview that enables secure and seamless RDP and SSH access to virtual machines over the Azure platform. This service is designed to provide a more integrated and streamlined experience for developers, with features that cater specifically to their workflows and access requirements. The preview aims to enhance productivity and security for development environments hosted on Azure.
Azure Blob Storage Cold Tier
Azure Blob Storage has announced the general availability of its Cold Tier support for Blob Batch operations as of August 10th, 2023. This new online access tier is the most cost-effective option within Azure Blob Storage for storing infrequently accessed data that requires long-term retention while still providing instant access. Blob Batch operations have been enhanced to support tiering operations for the cold tier, allowing for the efficient management of large volumes of data. For more information on optimizing performance and cost with the Cold Tier, users can refer to the Azure documentation.
TLS 1.2 to Become the Minimum TLS Version for Azure Storage
In a move to align with evolving technology and regulatory standards, Azure Storage is set to deprecate support for TLS versions 1.0 and 1.1. Starting from November 1, 2024, the minimum supported version will be TLS 1.2. This update is crucial as TLS 1.2 offers enhanced security and speed over its predecessors, which do not support modern cryptographic algorithms and cipher suites. The change will affect both existing and new storage accounts that are currently using the older TLS versions across all Azure clouds.
To prevent any service disruptions, users of Azure Storage are required to transition to TLS 1.2 and eliminate any dependencies on the older versions. Azure Storage already supports and defaults to TLS 1.2, so customers using it will not experience any impact due to this update. However, for those utilizing TLS 1.0 or 1.1, it is imperative to update operating systems, development libraries, frameworks, and any other solutions to the latest versions that support TLS 1.2 before October 31, 2024.
Azure has provided a set of recommendations and resources to facilitate this migration. For further details and guidance, users can navigate to the Azure updates page.
Azure Premium SSD v2 Disk Storage Now Available in More Regions
Azure Premium SSD v2 Disk Storage has expanded its availability, now including Poland Central, China North 3, and US Gov Virginia regions. This next-generation storage solution provides sub-millisecond disk latencies and is designed to support IO-intensive workloads at a cost-effective price point. It is ideal for a variety of enterprise production workloads such as SQL Server, Oracle, MariaDB, SAP, Cassandra, MongoDB, and big data analytics. For more information on Premium SSD v2 Disk Storage and pricing, users can refer to the Azure Managed Disks pricing page.
Azure NetApp Files Standard Storage with Cool Access (preview)
Azure has introduced a new feature in public preview for Azure NetApp Files, standard storage with cool access. This innovative feature allows users to configure a standard capacity pool with cool access, effectively moving cold (infrequently accessed) data transparently to an Azure storage account. This transition aims to reduce the cost of storage while maintaining the same throughput to and from the volume.
However, users should note that there might be a difference in data access latency, as data blocks could be tiered to the Azure storage account. The cool access feature offers options for the “coolness period” to optimize network transfer costs based on specific workload and read/write patterns. This functionality is provided at the volume level.
During the preview phase, this feature is available in several regions, including East US2, East Asia, Central India, Canada Central, Australia East, North Europe, Brazil South, France Central, Australia Southeast, and Canada East. More regions will be added as the preview progresses.
Over the past two weeks, Microsoft has introduced a slew of updates and announcements pertaining to Azure Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Azure Stack. These developments underscore the tech giant’s unwavering commitment to enhancing its cloud offerings and adapting to the ever-evolving needs of businesses and developers. Users of Azure can anticipate improved functionalities, streamlined services, and enriched features as a result of these changes. Stay tuned for more insights as I continue to monitor and report on Azure’s progression in the cloud sphere.