Azure IaaS and Azure Stack: announcements and updates (December 2023 – Weeks: 49 and 50)

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 Support Plan offer extended

Microsoft Azure has announced an extension of its Azure Support offer. Starting from January 1, 2024, all new and renewing Azure customers who purchase an Enterprise Agreement (EA or EES) or are part of the field-led Microsoft Customer Agreement (MCA) will receive free Azure Standard support. This promotion, designed to assist customers in their cloud journey, will be available until June 30, 2024, at no additional charge. The offer aims to provide an extra level of access to expert technical support, enhancing the Azure experience for enterprise customers. Existing customers will automatically benefit from this offer, with no additional action required. The terms of the promotion can be viewed on the Azure website, with updates to be visible from January 1, 2024.


Intel TDX based confidential VMs now available in Azure (preview)

Microsoft Azure has introduced the public preview of DCesv5 and ECesv5-series confidential virtual machines (VMs), marking a significant advancement in cloud computing security. These VMs, powered by 4th Gen Intel® Xeon® Scalable processors with Intel® Trust Domain Extensions (Intel® TDX), are now accessible through the Azure portal, Azure CLI, and ARM templates. This development enables organizations to bring confidential workloads to the cloud without necessitating code changes to applications. Initially available in select regions including Europe West, Central US, and East US 2, these VMs represent a leap forward in Azure’s confidential computing capabilities. The introduction of these VMs underscores Azure’s commitment to providing secure and innovative cloud solutions.


Delaying domain Front Block on Azure Front Door and CDN Services

Microsoft Azure has announced the postponement of the enforcement of blocking domain fronting on Azure Front Door and Azure CDN Standard from Microsoft (classic) to January 22, 2024. This decision, influenced by customer feedback, aims to provide additional time for users to adapt to the upcoming changes. Azure plans to introduce two log fields, “SNI” and “Result,” by December 25, 2023, to assist customers in identifying domain fronting behavior in their resources. The enforcement of this block is intended to enhance security by preventing traffic that attempts to bypass domain fronting checks. It’s important to note that this change will not affect regular users accessing the service through compliant browsers, APIs, SDKs, etc., and is focused on enhancing the security of Azure’s network services.


Azure File Sync agent v17 release: enhanced performance and expanded features

Microsoft has announced the release of Azure File Sync agent v17, now in flighting and accessible on the Microsoft Update Catalog. This latest update introduces significant improvements and fixes, enhancing the overall performance and functionality of Azure File Sync. Key enhancements include:

  • Sync Upload performance improvements: users will experience notable improvements in sync upload performance, especially beneficial during file share migrations and high churn events where a large number of files need uploading. 

  • Expanded character support for file and directory names: the update extends the list of supported characters for file and directory names in SMB File shares, aligning with the NTFS file system’s capabilities for valid Unicode characters. This expansion allows for greater flexibility in naming conventions.

  • New Cloud Tiering low disk space mode metric: a new feature enables users to configure alerts for servers in low disk space mode, enhancing monitoring capabilities. 

  • Resolved agent update issue: the update addresses and resolves a previous issue where the agent update process would hang, improving reliability.

  • Miscellaneous reliability and telemetry improvements: the release also includes various enhancements for cloud tiering and sync, focusing on reliability and telemetry.

Additional Release Information:

  • The v17 release is compatible with Windows Server 2012 R2, Windows Server 2016, Windows Server 2019, and Windows Server 2022.
  • Windows Server 2012 R2 users must have .NET Framework version 4.6.2 or higher.
  • The agent version for this release is

For installation instructions and further details, users can refer to KB5023053 in the Microsoft knowledge base. This release marks a significant step forward in the Azure File Sync service, offering enhanced performance and expanded capabilities to users.


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.

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