The Azure edition of Windows Server 2022

The new operating system Windows Server 2022 introduced a new special edition dedicated to Azure environments, able to offer specific features not available in the classic Standard and Datacenter editions. This article describes the features available in this edition that allow you to better address certain scenarios in cloud environments.

First of all, the Azure Datacenter edition of Windows Server 2022 is only supported in the following environments:

  • Azure IaaS
  • Azure Stack HCI (21H2)

Windows Server 2022 Datacenter Azure Edition includes all the features of the Datacenter version, in addition it offers the functions described in the following paragraphs, not available outside of these environments.

Azure Extended Networking

This is a feature designed to solve the challenge of moving applications and workloads running on-premises to the cloud, when it is required to keep the same IP addresses associated with virtual machines. Azure Extended Networking allows you to extend an existing on-premises subnet to Azure to allow virtual machines to keep the same private IP addresses. All this is made possible thanks to the fact that the network is extended using a bi-directional VXLAN tunnel between two Windows Server virtual machines. 2022 which cover the role of virtual appliance.

Figure 1 - Generic diagram for extending a subnet in Azure

A virtual appliance must be running in an on-premises environment, while the other must be running in the cloud and must have the Datacenter Azure Edition. Each subnet to be extended requires the presence of a pair of these virtual appliances. In this way, you can keep your private IP addresses in use in the on-premises environment also in Azure and everything works transparently for applications. In this regard it is good to specify that it is advisable to use this feature only in scenarios where it is not possible to proceed otherwise. In fact, if possible, it is always better to change the IP address and directly connect the migrated systems to existing subnets in Azure. This type of configuration can be done using the procedure reported in Microsoft's official documentation, which provides for the presence of Windows Admin Center connected to Azure.

SMB over QUIC

QUIC is a standard protocol designed to provide a reliable connection over unsecured networks, like the Internet. In fact, QUIC uses a TLS encrypted tunnel 1.3 on the UDP port 443. With SMB over QUIC all SMB traffic, including the authentication and authorization process, it always remains inside this tunnel and is never exposed on the network. In this scenario, SMB behaves in a standard way inside the tunnel, therefore the user experience and capabilities remain unchanged. SMB over QUIC inWindows Server 2022 Datacenter Azure Edition uses the updated version of the SMB protocol (version 3.1.1). Using SMB over QUIC, users and applications can securely and reliably access data on file servers running in the Azure environment or file servers located on the edges, without having to adopt VPN connections. For more details please visit the Microsoft's official documentation.

Figure 2 - Configuring SMB over QUIC from Windows Admin Center

Hotpatch of Azure Automanage

The Hotpatch feature, part of Azure Automanage, is supported inWindows Server 2022 Datacenter: Azure Edition. Support is currently for Core mode installations, but will also be extended to Desktop installations in the future. Hotpatching is a new mechanism, used to install updates on Windows Server Azure Edition virtual machines, which allows you to reduce the number of reboots required to install updates.

Figure 3 - Hotpatch for a machine Windows Server 2022 in Azure environment

Azure Automanage allows you to orchestrate the installation of security patches on top of a Cumulative Update, which is released every three months. Cumulative Update requires a system restart, but the security patches released between the Cumulative Updates can modify the code running in memory without the need to reboot the machine.

For more information about this feature, you can consult thespecific Microsoft documentation.

Conclusions

Thanks to these features, designed for hybrid environments and fully integrated into the operating system, Windows Server 2022 allows you to significantly increase efficiency and agility. To discover all the new features introduced in Windows Server 2022 you can consult this series of articles.

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