Azure Management services: what's new in October 2022

In October, Microsoft announced a considerable number of news regarding Azure management services, accomplice also the Microsoft Ignite conference 2022. Through these articles, issued on a monthly basis, I want to provide an overall overview of the main news of the month, so that you can always stay up to date on these topics and have the necessary references to carry out further studies.

The following diagram shows the different areas related to management, which are covered in this series of articles:

Figure 1 – Management services in Azure overview

Monitor

Azure Monitor

New migration tools for the Azure Monitor agent

The Azure Monitor Agent (AMA) provides a way that is secure , economical and performing to collect telemetry data from Azure virtual machines, scale set, Azure Arc-enabled servers and Windows client devices. Microsoft has announced that it is necessary to migrate from the log analytics agent (MMA or OMS agent) to this agent before August 2024. To address this migration you can use the following migration tools:

  • AMA migration helper: an Azure Monitor workbook-based solution that helps you find out what to migrate and monitor progress in moving from legacy agents to the new Azure Monitor agent.
  • DCR config generator: the Azure Monitor agent relies only on data collection rules (data collection rule) for configuration, while the legacy agent extracted all its configuration from the Log Analytics workspaces. Using this script, it is possible to analyze the configuration of the legacy agent from the workspaces and automatically generate the corresponding rules. You will be able to associate these rules with systems running the new agent, using the integrated association criteria.

Support of the Azure Monitor agent also for Windows clients

Azure Monitor agent and data collection rules now support client devices Windows 10 and 11. Client devices running the agent must be connected to AAD or hybrid AAD, since the agent relies on the identity of the AAD device for authentication. For client devices, while deploying the same agent that uses data collection rules to manage the configuration, only association is allowed (or targeting) at the AAD tenant level. Granular device targeting is not yet available. Furthermore, the agent is the same used for virtual machines or servers, that is, it has no specific optimization for client devices (ex. for the battery, the network, etc.).

Azure Service Map retirement announced

Microsoft announced that Azure Service Map will be officially retired on 30 September 2025. To monitor connections between servers, processes and connection latencies need to use Azure MonitorVM insights. The experience provided by VM Insights includes the same features as Service Map, beyond:

  • Improved scalability and support for more complex maps.
  • More detailed metrics for connections.
  • Integrated support for grouping machines.

Azure Monitor predictive autoscale for Azure Virtual Machine Scale Sets

The predictive autoscale uses machine learning to help manage and scale Azure Virtual Machine Scale Sets with cyclical workload models. This feature allows you to predict the overall CPU load for the set of virtual machines based on historical CPU usage patterns. This allows scale-out to be done in time to meet demand.

There are several key features released:

  • New virtual machine set instances are added when the system expects the CPU percentage to exceed the scale-out limit.
  • You can configure how far in advance you want to provision new instances.
  • It is possible to view the CPU usage forecasts without activating the scaling action, using the forecast-only mode.

Azure Monitor Logs: functionality to add value to data and reduce costs

For Azure Monitor Logs, interesting log analysis features have been announced that will help increase the cost effectiveness of logs:

  • Basic Logs: an economical solution for high-volume verbose logs. It is now possible to configure high-volume verbose log tables as basic logs and reduce the cost of storing data used for debugging, problem solving and auditing.
  • Long-term archiving of logs for security and compliance. The archiving of the logs allows you to extend the retention period of the Log Analytic table and to archive the logs up to seven years with a significant reduction in prices.
  • Archived logs can be accessed by using a search job or by temporarily restoring a set of logs.
  • Search Log: a new tool that asynchronously scans petabytes of data and retrieves all relevant records in a new persistent Log Analytics table.
  • Restoration: an operation that makes a specific time interval of table data available in the hot cache, to run high performance queries.

Azure Monitor Logs: RBAC creation in granular way for custom tables
Today, data access control can be managed at the workspace level, resource and table, but only for Azure standard tables. Previously, custom tables only supported one authorization method: “all or nothing”. The Log Analytics product team added the functionality to allow workspace administrators to manage more granular access to data, supporting table-level read permission, for both Azure tables and customer tables.

Integration of the Azure Monitor Agent with Connection Monitor (preview)
Connection Monitor is a multi-agent monitoring solution that can monitor connectivity in Azure and hybrid environments and measure packet loss, latency and jitter. Connection Monitor provides useful information for diagnosing and resolving network problems and provides end-to-end path visibility with a unified topology.

Microsoft's goal is to consolidate multiple monitor agents into a single agent. This feature allows you to meet the needs of collection of monitor logs related to connectivity and metrics on Azure and on on-premises Arc-enabled computers, eliminating the costs of managing and enabling multiple monitor agents. Furthermore, the Azure Monitor Agent offers improved security and performance features, real cost savings and easier problem solving. Thanks to this support, the dependence on the Log Analytics agent is eliminated, while increasing the coverage of on-premises computers with the support of Arc-enabled endpoints.

Azure Monitor Managed Service for Prometheus (preview)

Prometheus, the open source project of the Cloud Native Computing Foundation, is considered the de-facto standard when it comes to monitoring containerized workloads. Running self-managed Prometheus is often a great solution for smaller deployments, though scaling to manage workloads can be a major challenge. The new Prometheus-compatible and fully managed Azure Monitor service offers the best of what you like about the open source ecosystem, while automating complex tasks such as scaling, high availability and long-term data retention. This service is available as a standalone Azure Monitor service or as an integrated component of Container Insights and Azure Managed Grafana.

Rules for Azure Kubernetes Service resources and for Log Analytics (preview)

The Azure portal now allows you to easily enable a set of alert rules pertaining to the best practices recommended for Azure Kubernetes Service resources (AKS) and for Log Analytics workspace.

Govern

Azure Cost Management

Updates related toMicrosoft Cost Management

Microsoft is constantly looking for new methodologies to improve Microsoft Cost Management, 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.

Azure Arc

Automatic extension update for Azure Arc-enabled servers

Microsoft has made the extension automatic update functionality available for Azure Arc-enabled servers.

Azure Automanage for Azure virtual machines and Arc-enabled servers
Azure Automanage is a service that automates the configuration of virtual machines to Azure services, as well as security operations and management of the entire life cycle of VMs in Azure or hybrid environments (enabled through Azure Arc). This saves time, reduce risks and improve workload uptime, automating daily configuration and management tasks. Azure Automanage is now available for Azure virtual machines and Arc-enabled servers.

Microsoft has added new features to further automate the configuration and management of any virtual machine, including:

  • the application of improved backup settings and different auditing modes for server baselines;
  • the ability to specify custom Log Analytics workspaces and Azure tags to identify resources;
  • support for Windows virtual machines 10;
  • support for enabling Microsoft Antimalware.

New features for Azure Arc-enabled SQL Servers

Azure Arc-enabled SQL Servers have several new features that increasingly allow customers to leverage a cloud-like experience, including:

  • single sign-on experience that integrates with Azure Active Directory (Azure AD).
  • improved security thanks to Microsoft Defender which allows customers to
    evaluate and secure SQL Server properties in hybrid and multicloud environments.

Secure

Microsoft Defender for Cloud

New features, bug fixes and deprecated features of Microsoft Defender for Cloud

Microsoft Defender for Cloud 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:

  • Microsoft Defender for DevOps, a new solution that will provide visibility across multiple DevOps environments. This solution will make it possible to centrally manage security, strengthen cloud resource configurations in code and prioritize critical troubleshooting in code in multi-pipeline and multicloud environments. With this preview, major platforms such as GitHub and Azure DevOps are already supported and other major DevOps platforms will be supported shortly.
  • Microsoft cloud security benchmark: the complete multicloud security framework is now available with Microsoft Defender for Cloud, as part of the free Cloud Security Posture Management experience. This integrated benchmark is able to map best practices across different clouds and various industry frameworks, enabling security teams to ensure multicloud security compliance.
  • Microsoft Defender for Servers, as well as an agent-based approach to virtual machines (VM) in Azure e AWS, will support agentless scanning.
  • Defender for Servers P2 will provide the premium features of Microsoft Defender Vulnerability Management.
  • Microsoft Defender for Containers will expand multicloud threat protection with agentless scanning in AWS Elastic Container Registry.

Protect

Azure Backup

Smart tiering: automatic move to the vault-archive tier

Azure Backup has introduced the ability to configure policies to automate the use of the vault-archive tier for Azure virtual machines and for SQL Server / SAP HANA on board virtual machines. This ensures that the restore points are suitable and recommended (in the case of Azure virtual machines) are automatically moved to the vault-archive tier. This is done periodically and according to the backup policy settings. Furthermore, you can specify the number of days after which you want the recovery points to be moved to the vault-archive tier.

Support for zone-rendundant storage

In Azure Backup, support for redundant zone type vaults has been introduced. When configuring resource protection using a zone-redundant storage vault (ZRS), backups are synchronously replicated across three Availability Zones within a region. This allows you to perform data restores even in the event of outages in a specific area.

Immutable vaults for Azure Backup

With immutable vaults, Azure Backup offers an option to ensure that the recovery points created cannot be deleted before the expected deadline. Azure Backup does this by preventing any operation that could lead to the loss of backup data. This helps protect backups from threats such as ransomware attacks and malicious actors, preventing operations such as deleting backups or reducing retention in backup policies.

Soft delete functionality enhancements for Azure Backup

It is now possible to ensure better protection of backups against various threats, making soft delete irreversible. Furthermore, the soft delete functionality allows you to provide a customizable retention period for which deleted data must be kept.

Support for HANA System Replication in Azure Backup for HANA (preview)

Azure Backup protects HANA databases on Azure virtual machines with a streaming database backup solution, Backint certified. Previously, if the HANA database had HANA System Replication (HSR) as a disaster recovery solution (DR), after each failover, manual intervention was required to activate the backups. Now, with this new feature in preview, you get instant and continuous protection for your HANA System Replication configuration, without the need for any manual intervention.

Azure Site Recovery

New DR architecture for VMware machines

In ASR it has been made easier, reliable and modern mechanism to protect VMware virtual machines. Among the main improvements it is worth mentioning:

  • Stateless ASR Replication Appliance: the Configuration Server and its local components have been converted to a stateless ASR replication appliance. This choice simplifies the discovery and failback process, introducing the option to select any appliance, without having to configure any master target server or process server.
  • Automatic updates for the ASR replication appliance and for the mobility agent. A problem felt with the classic architecture was the need to manually update the various components of the Configuration Server and the mobility agents. To make things easier, automatic updates have been introduced.
  • More flexible scalability. The replication appliance constitutes a single management unit and all its components have been converted into microservices hosted in an Azure environment. This not only makes it easier to troubleshoot any problems, but managing scalability is also much easier.
  • High availability for appliances. With modern architecture, it is no longer necessary to perform regular backups of the appliance. Indeed, just start another appliance and switch all machines to the new appliance. The replicated items will be transferred to the new appliance, without having to repeat the full replication.

New Update Rollup

For Azure Site Recovery was released theUpdate Rollup 64 that solves several issues and introduces some improvements. The details and the procedure to follow for the installation can be found in the specific KB.

Migrate

Azure Migrate

Discovery and assessment aimed at migrating SQL Server to Azure

The new SQL discovery and assessment capabilities in Azure Migrate allow you to map the environment and evaluate availability, the costs and any blocks in moving these instances to Azure IaaS and PaaS. Thanks to this tool it is possible to detect the most valid and convenient Azure target for the analyzed SQL instances. Furthermore, this information can be downloaded in a specific report.

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.

Azure Database Migration

Migration from Oracle to Azure with Database Migration Assessment for Oracle
Database Migration Assessment for Oracle, an Azure Data Studio extension powered by Azure Database Migration Service, now allows you to do an assessment for migration from Oracle Database to Azure Database for PostgreSQL. The assessment includes recommendations for database migration and an assessment of the code complexity of the databases. Through the same tool, customers can get recommendations on targeted sizing for Oracle Database migration to Azure Database for PostgreSQL and Azure SQL, including Azure SQL Database Hyperscale, ideal for large workloads up to 100 TB. With these new features, Migration planning is made easier for Oracle customers who want to modernize their data assets with Azure-managed databases.

Evaluation of Azure

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

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