Azure IaaS and Azure Stack: announcements and updates (May 2020 – Weeks: 19 and 20)

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

Compute

New Azure VMware Solution in preview

Azure VMware Solution empowers customers to seamlessly extend or migrate their existing on-premises VMware applications to Azure without the cost, effort or risk of re-architecting applications or retooling operations. Preview of the new solution is initially available in US East and West Europe Azure regions. The new Azure VMware Solution is expected to be generally available in the second half of 2020 and at that time, availability will be extended across more regions.

The new Azure VMware Solution is:

  • First Party Microsoft Azure service, endorsed by VMware. The new release of Azure VMware Solution is built on Microsoft Azure without the use of a third-party technology. The solution is also cloud verified by VMware and leverages components of the VMware Cloud Foundation framework including vSphere, vCenter, NSX-T, vSAN and HCX.
  • Seamless integrated Azure experience. In the new solution Microsoft has rearchitected the Software Defined Datacenter (SDDC) layer that underpins the Private Cloud, ensuring a truly seamless Azure experience for customers.
  • VMware HCX Enterprise now available. The new Azure VMware Solution includes HCX Enterprise edition as an option. With additional features from HCX Enterprise, customers can further simplify their migration efforts to Azure including support for bulk live migrations.
  • Leverage pricing benefits for Microsoft workloads. Azure VMware Solutions supports the Azure Hybrid Benefit and Azure VMware Solution customers are also eligible for three years of free Extended Security Updates on 2008 versions of Windows Server and SQL Server.

New cloud regions in Italy, New Zealand and Poland

Microsoft announced plans for new cloud datacenter regions in three countries: Italy, New Zealand and Poland. In Italy, Microsoft is building a new datacenter region in Milan, which will provide access to Azure, Microsoft 365/Office 365 and Dynamics 365 and the Power Platform set of tools.

Virtual machine (VM)-level disk bursting

Virtual machine-level disk bursting is a new feature that allows your virtual machine to burst its disk IO and MiB/s throughput performance for a short time daily to handle unforeseen spikey disk traffic smoothly and process batched jobs with speed. The feature is now enabled on all Azure Lsv2-series virtual machines, with support for more virtual machine types and families to come soon. This feature doesn’t cost anything extra and comes enabled by default.

General availability of Azure Spot Virtual Machines

Azure Spot VMs provide access to unused Azure compute capacity at deep discounts. Spot pricing is available on single VMs in addition to VM scale sets (VMSS). This enables you to deploy a broader variety of workloads on Azure while enjoying access to discounted pricing compared to pay-as-you-go rates. Spot VMs offer the same characteristics as a pay-as-you-go virtual machine, the differences being pricing and evictions. Spot VMs can be evicted at any time if Azure needs capacity.

Storage

Azure Blob versioning public preview

Applications and users create, update, and delete data in Azure Blob storage continuously. A common requirement is the ability to manage and access both current and historical versions of the data. As the next step to enhance data management and protection, the Blob storage versioning preview is available. Azure Blob Versioning automatically maintains previous versions of an object and identifies them with version IDs. You can list both the current blob and previous versions using version ID timestamps. You can also access and restore previous versions as the most recent version of your data if it was erroneously modified or deleted by an application or other users.

Blob Index for Azure Storage in preview

Blob Index, a managed secondary index, allowing you to store multi-dimensional object attributes to describe your data objects for Azure Blob storage. It is now available in preview. Built on top of blob storage, Blob Index offers consistent reliability, availability, and performance for all your workloads. Blob Index provides native object management and filtering capabilities, which allows you to categorize and find data based on attribute tags set on the data.

General availability of geo-zone-redundant storage (GZRS)

GZRS helps achieve higher data resiliency by:

  • Synchronously writing three replicas of your data across multiple availability zones (like ZRS today) protecting from cluster, datacenter or entire zone failure.
  • Asynchronously replicating the data to another region within the same geo into a single zone (like LRS today) protecting from a regional outage.

When using GZRS, you can continue to read and write the data even if one of the availability zones in the primary region is unavailable. In the event of a regional failure you can also use read-access geo-zone-redundant storage (RA-GZRS) to continue having read access to your data or execute account failover to also restore write accessibility. GZRS provides a great balance of high performance, high availability and disaster recovery and is beneficial when building highly available applications/services in Azure.

Azure File Sync is removing support for TLS 1.0 and 1.1

Azure File Sync service will remove support for TLS 1.0 and 1.1 in August 2020.

Networking

Azure Virtual Network NAT in Azure Government and Azure China

Azure Virtual Network NAT (network address translation) is now generally available in the Azure Government and Azure China regions. NAT simplifies outbound-only internet connectivity for virtual networks and can be configured for one or more subnets of a virtual network.

Azure Firewall Updates

Two new key features in Azure Firewall are generally available:

Additionally, Microsoft is increasing the limit for multiple public IP addresses from 100 to 250 for both DNAT and SNAT.

Rules Engine for Azure Front Door Service is now in preview

Rules Engine on Azure Front Door Service brings your specific routing needs to the forefront of its application delivery experience, giving you more control over how you define and enforce what content gets served from where. Rules Engine empowers you to modify request and response headers, or dynamically override your existing route behavior based on incoming requests.

Private Link is now available on Event Grid

Azure Event Grid now has Private Link integration for custom topics and event domains, generally available in all Azure regions, allowing virtual network resources within their production workloads to communicate directly to their Event Grid topics without accessing the public internet. This enables enterprise workloads to take advantage of event-driven architectures securely for mission-critical workloads that require network isolation.

Azure Stack

Azure Stack Hub

Azure App Service and Azure Functions on Azure Stack Hub update available

A major update to Azure App Service on Azure Stack Hub is now available. The update build number is 87.0.2.10. All fixes and updates are detailed in the release notes.

This release updates the resource provider and brings new key capabilities and fixes:

  • Updates to App Service Tenant, Admin, Azure Functions portals, and Kudu tools.
  • Updates Azure Functions runtime to v1.0.13021.
  • Updates to core service to improve reliability and error messaging will enable easier diagnosis of common issues.
  • Updates to the application frameworks and tools including .NET Framework, ASP.NET Core, PHP, NodeJS, and NPM.
  • Windows Server updates to underlying operating system of all roles.
  • Cumulative updates for Windows Server are now applied to controller roles as part of deployment and upgrade.
  • Updated default virtual machine and scale set SKUs for new deployments.