Azure IaaS and Azure Stack: announcements and updates (December 2023 – Weeks: 51 and 52)

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. This release marks the final update for the year 2023, and I take this opportunity to wish everyone the best for the upcoming year 2024!



Microsoft Cloud for Sovereignty

Microsoft has announced the general availability of Microsoft Cloud for Sovereignty, a significant advancement in cloud technology for government agencies. This new offering is designed to meet the unique compliance, security, and policy requirements of governments while leveraging cloud capabilities to deliver enhanced value to citizens.

Key Highlights:

  • Compliance and Security: Microsoft Cloud for Sovereignty is built on over 60 cloud regions, providing industry-leading cybersecurity and the broadest compliance coverage. It enables governments to implement policies that align with national or regional data residency requirements.
  • Sovereign Controls: The platform offers sovereign controls to protect and encrypt sensitive data. This includes sovereign landing zones and Azure Confidential Computing, which secures data in memory in hardware-based trusted execution environments.
  • Policy Initiatives: Governments can adopt sovereignty-focused Azure policy initiatives to address the complexity of compliance with national and regional regulatory requirements. This includes the Azure Cloud Security Benchmark and Sovereignty Policy Baseline, among others.

New Capabilities:

  • Drift Analysis Tool: Identifies non-compliant settings and helps maintain policy compliance.
  • Transparency Logs: Provides visibility into instances where Microsoft engineers access customer resources.
  • Configuration Tools in Azure Portal: Simplifies the creation of sovereign landing zones.

This development marks a significant step in enabling governments to harness the power of cloud technology while maintaining strict control over data sovereignty and regulatory compliance.


Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8.9 on Azure Virtual Machines

Azure now supports Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 8.9 on its Virtual Machines, marking the latest minor release of RHEL 8. This version offers enhanced stability, security, and performance for production environments. Key features include streamlined deployment and migration options, new metrics in the performance co-pilot, and new Application Streams for Node.js 20, Java-21, and compiler toolkits. RHEL 8.9’s release emphasizes Azure’s commitment to providing a versatile and efficient operating environment for varied infrastructures.


Security Update for Azure Front Door WAF CVE-2023-50164

Azure has deployed a new managed rule for its global Web Application Firewall (WAF) customers to address the security vulnerability CVE-2023-50164. This update is crucial for applications potentially impacted by this vulnerability. The fix has been implemented in the ruleset versions 2.1, 2.0, and earlier. The rule, identified as ID 99001017 in the MS-ThreatIntel-CVEs Rule Group, is initially set to ‘Disabled’ with an ‘Anomaly Score’ action, and users are advised to enable it if their application is vulnerable. This update underscores Azure’s commitment to providing robust security for web applications.

Security Update for Application Gateway WAF CVE-2023-50164

Azure has announced the general availability of a security update for the Application Gateway WAF to address the CVE-2023-50164 vulnerability. This update is vital for regional WAF customers to safeguard their applications. The update includes changes to the Default Ruleset (DRS) and Core Ruleset (CRS), with the rule ID 99001017 now set to ‘Enabled’ and ‘Log’ action. It’s important to note that the ‘Anomaly Score’ action is not supported for this rule, and users with older WAFs running CRS 3.1 should upgrade to enable ‘Block’ mode.


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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