Azure IaaS and Azure Stack: announcements and updates (May 2024 – Weeks: 19 and 20)

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.



The Availability of Azure Compute Reservations Will Continue Until Further Notice

Initially planned to end on January 1, 2024, the availability of Azure compute reservation exchanges for Azure Virtual Machine, Azure Dedicated Host, and Azure App Service has been extended indefinitely. Customers can continue exchanging their compute reservations for different instance series and regions until further notice, with a minimum of six months’ notice prior to any changes. Additionally, any compute reservations purchased during this extended period will retain the right to one more exchange after the grace period ends. This extension allows for better cost savings assessments and planning. For more information, see the updated Azure reservation exchange policy.

Microsoft Azure Now Available from New Cloud Region in Mexico

The first cloud region in Mexico is now available, providing organizations across the globe with access to scalable, highly available, and resilient Microsoft Cloud services. With Azure Availability Zones, the Mexico Central region strengthens Microsoft’s commitment to promoting digital transformation and sustainable innovation in the country. This new region connects Mexico to the world’s largest and most trusted global cloud infrastructure, delivering the highest standards of security, privacy, and regulatory-compliant data storage.

Cloud Services (Classic) Deployment Model Retirement (31 August 2024)

The Cloud Services (classic) deployment model will also be retired on 31 August 2024. Users must migrate their services to the Cloud Services (extended support) in Azure Resource Manager to benefit from new features like deployment templates, role-based access control, and regional resiliency. After the retirement date, Cloud Services deployments will be stopped, and data will be permanently lost unless migrated.


Ubuntu 24.04 LTS for Azure Virtual Machines

Ubuntu 24.04 LTS, also known as “Noble Numbat,” is now available for Azure Virtual Machines. This new release includes Linux kernel version 6.8 and systemd version v255.4, bringing new features, enhanced performance, enterprise security, and expanded support for .NET 8. Ubuntu 24.04 LTS images can be found in the Azure Marketplace, providing users with the latest advancements and improvements for their virtual machines.

Standby Pools for Virtual Machine Scale Sets with Flexible Orchestration (preview)

Azure introduces the public preview of Standby Pools for Virtual Machine Scale Sets with flexible orchestration, a feature designed to enhance scaling performance by establishing a pool of pre-provisioned virtual machines. These standby pools expedite the scale-out process by undergoing initialization tasks such as software installation and data loading in advance. The number of virtual machines in a standby pool is dynamically adjusted based on the maximum ready capacity minus the virtual machines already deployed in the scale set. When scaling down, virtual machines are deleted as per the configured scale-in policy, and the standby pool refills accordingly. Virtual machines within the standby pool can either be kept running—recommended for scenarios with strict latency and reliability requirements—or be deallocated to save costs while still maintaining quick scale-out capabilities.


ExpressRoute Seamless Gateway Migration

ExpressRoute customers can now benefit from a seamless migration to a new Gateway SKU that supports Availability Zones. This update facilitates the migration of Public IP configurations from Basic to Standard without the need to delete and recreate existing virtual network gateways. The new feature provides a guided experience, allowing for seamless migration of circuit connections by deploying a second gateway to the Gateway Subnet, thus improving the overall migration process and reducing downtime.

Azure Front Door Log Scrubbing of Sensitive Data is Generally Available

Azure Front Door’s log scrubbing tool has reached General Availability, providing a secure way to remove sensitive data such as personally identifiable information (PII) from Azure Front Door access logs. By enabling log scrubbing at the Azure Front Door profile level, users can choose specific log fields to scrub. The tool then replaces sensitive information in the logs with “****,” ensuring sensitive data like customer passwords, client IPs, and socket IPs are protected.

Azure Front Door Server Variable Enhancement Generally Available

Azure Front Door now offers enhanced server variable functionality, allowing dynamic modification of requests and responses at the edge. With this feature, users can redirect clients based on request information, rewrite URLs, paths, and query strings, and insert, modify, or delete HTTP headers. Security headers can be implemented to prevent browser-based vulnerabilities, and requests from different countries or devices can be routed to different origins. Additionally, different caching policies can be applied based on content type. New capabilities include support for URL path segment capture and rewrite, enabling more flexible handling of dynamic URLs. For example, if an incoming URL path includes variable-length GUIDs, these can be extracted and inserted elsewhere in the URL path using URL Rewrite rules. For more details, refer to the Azure Front Door documentation.

Retirement of Five Azure Classic Networking Services (31 August 2024)

As announced in August 2021, Azure will retire its classic networking services—including Azure Cloud Services (classic), Classic Virtual Network, reserved IP addresses, Azure ExpressRoute Gateway, Azure Application Gateway, and Azure VPN Gateway—on 31 August 2024. Users are advised to migrate their resources to the Azure Resource Manager deployment model before this date to avoid any service disruptions. The Azure Resource Manager model offers simplified resource deployment, enhanced resource grouping, and the ability to apply access control policies at a group level.

Azure Application Gateway v2 Basic SKU (preview)

The Application Gateway Basic SKU is a new addition to the Application Gateway family, designed for small and medium-sized customers. This SKU is ideal for applications with lower traffic and SLA requirements that do not require advanced traffic management features. It includes built-in high availability and supports HTTP2/HTTPS and WebSocket protocols. Core application-level load balancing features such as URL-based, host-based, and multi-site routing, along with cookie-based affinity, are also included. The Basic SKU supports flexible backends, including Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS), Virtual Machine Scale Sets (VMSS), App Services, and on-premises deployments. Customers can select the Basic SKU directly from the Azure Portal or through their preferred scripting languages.


Azure File Sync Agent v18 Release

The Azure File Sync agent v18 is now available through Microsoft Update Catalog, offering enhanced capabilities for server provisioning and disaster recovery for Azure File Sync server endpoints. Key improvements include faster server provisioning times—significantly reducing the duration from hours or days to much quicker readiness. This is especially beneficial when creating the first server endpoint of a new sync topology after data is transferred to the Azure File Share, or adding a new empty server endpoint to an existing sync topology. Additional upgrades include enhanced sync performance for initial uploads and high-volume file changes, such as ACL adjustments, alongside miscellaneous reliability and telemetry enhancements for cloud tiering and sync. This release supports Windows Server 2016, 2019, and 2022.

Premium SSDv2 Now Available in Italy North Azure Region with Two Availability Zones (3rd AZ Coming Soon)

Microsoft has announced that Premium SSDv2 is now available in the Italy North Azure region, featuring support for two Availability Zones. This offering ensures high performance and availability for users in the region. A third Availability Zone is on the horizon, enhancing redundancy and fault tolerance.

Azure Ultra Disk Storage Now Available in Italy North

Azure Ultra Disk Storage, known for its high throughput, high IOPS, and consistently low latency, is now available in the Italy North region. This storage solution is ideally suited for data-heavy applications such as SAP HANA, top-tier databases, and transaction-intensive workloads, providing robust and reliable disk storage for Azure virtual machines.

Azure Storage Actions (preview)

Azure Storage Actions has expanded its preview to 14 additional Azure public regions. This fully managed platform simplifies data management operations for Azure Blob Storage and Azure Data Lake Storage by merging serverless infrastructure with a no-code user experience. Azure Storage Actions is designed to be high-performing, cost-efficient, and scalable, automatically adjusting to the size and needs of your data management tasks. Now in public preview in regions including Australia East, Brazil South, Canada Central, and several others across the globe, Azure Storage Actions offers a versatile solution for automating data management in Azure environments.

NFS Azure Files Volume Mount Support in Azure Container Apps (preview)

Azure Container Apps now supports mounting Network File System (NFS) Azure Files volumes, currently in public preview. This feature enhances the scalability and performance of file systems used by containerized applications. NFS Azure Files volumes are ideal for sharing data between multiple containers or maintaining data persistence across container restarts, providing a robust solution for application data management and storage needs.


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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