Azure Management services: what's new in September 2021

In September there were several news announced by Microsoft regarding Azure management services. In this summary, which I report on a monthly basis, 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

Support for Availability Zones is available

Azure Monitor has introduced support for Availability Zones that help protect applications and data from datacenter failures and can provide resilience for Azure Monitor features such as Application Insights and any other functionality that relies on a Log Analytics workspace. When a workspace is linked to an availability zone, Azure Monitor remains active and operational even if a specific datacenter is not functional or completely inactive. Azure Monitor currently supports Availability Zones for the following regions: East US 2 and West US 2.

Cross query between Azure Monitor and Azure Data Explorer

The ability to query between Azure Monitor and Azure Data Explorer allows you to query data exported to Azure Data Explorer or Azure blob storage and merge them with any Azure Monitor Log Analytics workspace.

Among the various features recently released we find the ability to perform queries:

  • Between Azure Data Explorer and Azure Monitor services (Log Analytics / Application Insights) and vice versa
  • On Azure Monitor logs exported from an Azure blob storage account using Azure Data Explorer

In Azure Monitor Log Analytics, the maximum data retention time frame is limited to 2 years. This aspect can be limiting in some areas, to the point that certain compliance criteria are not met. To overcome this limitation, you can export logs to an Azure blob storage. This new feature allows you to cross-query by including data exported to Azure blob storage in an integrated way.

Support for Windows Server 2022 for the Azure Monitor Agent

The Azure Monitor Agent is now also supported for Windows Server 2022 such as virtual machines, virtual machine scale sets and Arc enabled servers (in on-premise environments and / or non-Azure servers).

New version of the agent for Linux systems

A new version of the Log Analytics agent has been released this month for Linux systems where several improvements and greater stability are introduced. Furthermore, the OMI component has been updated to version 1.6.8 and introduced support for AWS 2 / Centos 8.4 Linux.


Azure Automation

Support for the Az module

Azure Automation introduces support for the module “Az”, available by default for all new Automation Accounts. Furthermore, the option is present in the Azure portal “Update Az Modules” which allows you to update the modules to “Az” for existing Automation Accounts.


Azure Policy

Support for AKS custom policy (preview)

Microsoft has announced in preview support for custom policies for Azure Kubernetes Service clusters (AKS). With this feature, it is possible to create and assign custom policy definitions and constraint templates to AKS clusters, see advanced information about any errors, use the embedded constraint template embedded within the policy definition and more.

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 erroneous spending patterns and optimize costs . Inthis article some of the latest improvements and updates regarding this solution are reported, including:


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.


Azure Backup

New alerts and management in the Backup center (preview)

Azure Backup has released a new Azure Monitor based alerting solution, which allows you to take advantage of the notification capabilities offered by Azure to monitor and effectively act on critical backup incidents. These alerts can also be managed directly by Azure Backup center.

Oracle snapshot with Azure Backup

Azure Backup now allows you to run pre-post scripts to deactivate and reactivate Oracle databases. This allows you to have consistent backups and take advantage of all the advantages of Azure VM backup also for Oracle systems. Database-consistent snapshots can be used for restores from Oracle, they are verifiable by Oracle database clients such as RMAN and have economic advantages as the backup of Azure VMs is intrinsically incremental. The ability to take consistent snapshots at the Oracle database level also means there is no need to stream the full daily data to a storage target, therefore it is possible to significantly reduce the I / O demand on the machine and on the network, as well as reducing the need for large storage spaces. Furthermore, the use of these snapshots guarantees the ability to quickly create clones of Oracle production VMs and it is not necessary to perform intensive I / O operations such as a datapump.

Offline backup with Azure Data Box

Microsoft has made the Azure Offline Backup functionality available using Azure Data Box, which allows you to use Azure Data Box to seed large initial backups offline in an Azure Recovery Service vault.

Azure Site Recovery

New features to simplify the DR scenarios of VMs in a VMware environment (preview)

The following changes have been released in preview in ASR to help improve the activation of Disaster Recovery scenarios for VMware environments:

  • Automatic updates for the ASR replication appliance and for the Mobility agent. A limitation of the current ASR architecture is the need to manually update the various components of the configuration server and the Mobility service. To make things easier, Microsoft has introduced the ability to update automatically: when an update is made available, both the appliance (configuration server) and the Mobility service can be updated automatically. Furthermore, to perform automatic updates, the machine's root / admin credentials are no longer required.
  • Scalability improvements. The appliance becomes a single management unit where all its components have been converted into microservices hosted in an Azure environment. Not only will this make troubleshooting a lot easier, but managing the scalability of the solution will also be easier.
  • High availability for the appliance. Appliance resilience is a required feature and, thanks to this review, it is no longer necessary to perform regular backups of the appliance, but just start a new appliance and transfer all protected machines to the new appliance, without having to repeat a full replication.

Upgrade al TLS 1.2 or later

As part of the Microsoft initiative that provides for Azure to use TLS 1.2 by default and removing dependencies from previous versions, Azure Site Recovery is moving away from legacy protocols to ensure greater security for replication data. Therefore, TLS 1.0 e TLS 1.1 they will no longer be supported. These changes will take effect on 15 November 2021. To continue using Azure Site Recovery without interruption, you should make sure that all the resources that use the Microsoft Azure Recovery Services agent (MARS) are enabled for the use of TLS 1.2 or later.


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.

Evaluation of Azure

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

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