Azure Management services: what's new in March 2021

In March there were several news announced by Microsoft regarding Azure management services. In this series of articles, reported monthly, major announcements are listed, accompanied by the necessary references to be able to conduct further studies on.

The following diagram shows the different areas related to management, which are covered in this series of articles, in order to stay up to date on these topics and to better deploy and maintain applications and resources.

Figure 1 – Management services in Azure overview


Azure Monitor

What's new in Azure Monitor for Windows Virtual Desktop

Azure Monitor for Windows Virtual Desktop, that will be made available in the coming weeks, will allow you to have a centralized view, containing all the monitor information to help you troubleshoot and operate on a large scale. Thanks to the latest updates it is possible to:

  • View a summary of the status and health of the pool host
  • Find and resolve deployment issues
  • Understanding and addressing user feedback
  • Evaluate resource usage and make scalability decisions, thus achieving optimal cost management

ExpressRoute Monitors in Azure Monitor Network Insights

Azure Monitor Network Insights allows now, through a centralized console, to make the ExpressRoute monitor. The solution displays the following information regarding ExpressRoute connectivity:

  • Topology of all ExpressRoute circuit components (peering, connections and gateways)
  • Provisioning and health status of the various components
  • Circuit metrics (Availability, throughput and packet delivery)
  • Metrics of the ExpressRoute gateway connected to the circuit

Azure Monitor SQL insights for Azure SQL (preview)

Azure Monitor SQL Insights allows you to collect, the analysis and customized display of telemetry data for SQL Database, SQL Managed Instance and SQL Server on board Azure Virtual Machines. The interactive experience introduced by SQL Insights allows you to customize the collection, the frequency of telemetry and to combine data from multiple sources, providing a unified monitoring experience for the SQL environment. SQL Insights is based on the Azure Monitor platform, giving customers access to all the viewing and notification features in the solution.

Azure Monitor Alerts for Azure Backup (preview)

You can now manage backup alerts through the standard Azure Monitor experience. This integration allows users to have a consistent experience in managing alerts across Azure services, including backup.

Azure monitor for containers: live consultation of pods logs & Replica set

Azure monitor for containers introduced support for real-time access to Azure Kubernetes Service Pods and Replica sets logs (AKS). Thanks to this new feature you can search for, filter and view historical pod logs in Log Analytics, you can also troubleshoot and diagnose pods and replica sets.

Container Insights: Persistent Volume monitoring & Tab reports

Container Insights of Azure Monitor introduces two new features:

  • Monitoring dei Persistent Volume (PV) for AKS clusters.
  • A new Reports tab that provides full access to all workbooks related to Kubernetes.

Azure SQL auditing in Log Analytics

It is now possible to merge the audit logs of Azure SQL Database and Azure Synapse Analytics to a Log Analytics workspace and to the Event Hub. This way you can centralize SQL audit logs in one location and do large-scale analysis.

New version of the agent for Linux systems

A new version of the Log Analytics agent has been released this month for Linux systems, which introduces several improvements and greater stability.

Availability in new regions

Azure Monitor Log Analytics is available in the following new regions:

  • Australia Central 2

To check the availability of the service in all the Azure regions you can consult this document.


Azure Automation

Availability in new regions

Azure Automation is available in the following new regions:

  • UK West

Azure Automanage

New features for Windows systems and extension to Linux distro

Azure Automanage is a new solution that automates several operations throughout the entire lifecycle of virtual machines located in Azure. It allows you to automatically implement best practices in virtual machine management ensuring compliance regarding security aspects, corporate compliance and business continuity. In this solution, new features have been added to simplify operations on virtual machines (VM) Windows Server, such as installing security patches without restarting. This feature allows security patches to be deployed in seconds, this makes it easier to protect servers from critical threats. Azure Automanage has also been extended to major Linux distributions.


Azure Policy

Azure Cost Management

Updates related toAzure Cost Management and Billing

Microsoft is constantly looking for new methodologies to improve Azure Cost Management and Billing, the solution to provide greater visibility into where costs are accumulating in the cloud, identify and prevent incorrect spending patterns and optimize costs . Inthis article some of the latest improvements and updates regarding this solution are reported, including:

  • Ability to monitor spending through alerts on expected costs (forecasted cost alerts)
  • New view of subscription costs
  • What's New in Cost Management Labs


Azure Security Center

New features, bug fixes and deprecated features of Azure Security Center

Azure Security Center development is constantly evolving and improvements are being made on an ongoing basis. To stay up to date on the latest developments, Microsoft updates this page, this provides information about new features, bug fixes and deprecated features. In particular, this month the main news concern:

  • Integrating Azure Firewall management into Security Center
  • Inclusion of the “Disable rule” experience in SQL vulnerability assessment (preview)
  • Azure Monitor Workbooks built into Security Center
  • Azure Audit reports included in the regulatory compliance dashboard (preview)
  • Ability to view recommendation data in Azure Resource Graph with “Explore in ARG”
  • Workflow Automation Deployment Policy Updates
  • Improvements in the recommendations page


Azure Backup

Backup Center

The new Backup Center solution is now available and offers a unique experience designed for centralized management of large-scale backups. With Backup Center, you can dynamically explore large backup inventories between vaults, subscriptions, different locations and even tenants using Azure Lighthouse. The Backup Center can also govern any actions related to backups. Thanks to integration with Azure Policies and recent additional features for tag-based Azure Policies, large-scale governance can be implemented and compliance monitoring simplified. Backup Center also provides useful information to detect resources that are not protected from backups.

Backup Center supports the following types of workloads:

  • Azure Virtual Machines
  • SQL in Azure Virtual Machines
  • HANA in Azure VMs
  • Azure Files

Furthermore, the following workloads are supported in preview:

  • Azure Disks
  • Azure Blobs
  • Azure Database for PostgreSQL Servers

Azure Managed Disk backups

Azure Backup offers the ability to protect managed disks. All this takes place through the periodic creation of snapshots that are kept for a duration established by backup policy. The solution does not require the presence of specific agents and supports backup and recovery of both operating system and data disks (including shared disks), regardless of whether or not they are connected to a virtual machine running in Azure.

SAP HANA Incremental Backup Support

Azure Backup introduces support for creating incremental SAP HANA backups (at the moment in all regions, except Germany Northeast, Germany Central, France South, and US Gov IOWA). Sap HANA's large DB protection is faster and cheaper with this feature.

Support for Archive storage for backup of VMs and SQL on board VMs (preview)

In Azure Backup, you can now move recovery points to save costs and keep your backup data longer. This feature is available for Azure VMs and SQL Servers installed on board Azure VMs. Using Azure PowerShell, you can move these backups from the standard tier to the new archive tier. Restores can be done in an integrated way from the Azure portal, with a simple and intuitive process. In addition to this, Azure Backup will provide, using a specific API, recommendations for moving recovery points to the tier archive.

Backup for Azure Blobs (preview)

Azure Blob backup is an on-premises and managed data protection solution, this helps protect block blobs from various data loss scenarios. Data is stored locally within the source storage account and can be restored from a certain selected time when needed. This feature provides a simple means, safe and economical to protect blobs.

Azure Site Recovery

Expanding DR scenarios to Availability Zones from Azure

Although Availability Zones are traditionally used by customers for high-availability configurations of environments, can now also be leveraged to implement specific disaster recovery scenarios. This feature allows you to define DR plans for scenarios where the maintenance of data residency and local compliance is required, improving the Recovery Point Objective (RPO). This configuration also reduces the complexity of the configurations required to implement a DR strategy in a secondary region.


Azure Migrate

New Azure Migrate releases and features

Azure Migrate is the service in Azure that includes a large portfolio of tools that you can use, through a guided experience, to address effectively the most common migration scenarios. To stay up-to-date on the latest developments in the solution, please consult this page, that provides information about new releases and features. In particular, this month the main news concern:

  • Support to provide multiple server credentials on the Azure Migrate appliance needed to detect installed applications (software inventory), perform agentless dependency analysis and discover SQL Server instances and databases in the VMware environment.
  • Agentless VMware migration now supports simultaneous replication of 500 VMs for vCenter.
  • Azure Migrate automatically installs the Azure VM agent during migration (using the agentless migration method).
  • Azure Migrate Hub now includes an app containerization tool (preview), with support for ASP.NET and Java web applications, which allows you to facilitate the migration of containerized applications running on Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS).
  • Ability to perform assessment for migration to Azure VMware Solution.
  • The new Azure Migrate PowerShell module (preview) adds support for Server Migration agentless tools for migrating VMware virtual machines (VM) in Azure. Furthermore, you can configure and manage server replication to Azure and migrate them, using Azure PowerShell cmdlets in an automated and repeatable way.

Azure Database Migration

SQL Server discovery and assessment agentless

With Azure Migrate, you can now discover SQL Server instances and databases running in a VMware environment, analyze their configuration, application performance and dependencies to migrate to Azure SQL databases and Azure SQL Managed Instances. The solution can provide information regarding the possibility of migration, correct sizing and SQL Azure cost projections.

Evaluation of Azure

To test for free and evaluate the services provided by Azure you can access this page.

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