Azure IaaS and Azure Stack: announcements and updates (March 2023 – Weeks: 11 and 12)

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 VMware Solution: Azure Hybrid Benefit for SQL Server

Azure Hybrid Benefit (AHB) for SQL Server is now available in Azure VMware Solution (AVS). With AHB for SQL Server on Azure VMware Solution, you can take advantage of the unlimited virtualization licensing capability included with the SQL Server Software Assurance. To this end, you can configure and enable VM-Host placement policies via the Azure portal and apply Azure Hybrid Benefit.


Azure Firewall Basic

Azure Firewall Basic is a new SKU for Azure Firewall designed for small and medium-sized businesses. Azure Firewall Basic can be deployed inside a virtual network or a virtual hub. This gives businesses the flexibility to choose the deployment option that best meets their needs.

The main benefits are:

  • Comprehensive, cloud-native network firewall security
    • Network and application traffic filtering
    • Threat intelligence to alert on malicious traffic
    • Built-in high availability
    • Seamless integration with other Azure security services
  • Simple setup and easy-to-use
    • Setup in just a few minutes
    • Automate deployment (deploy as code)
    • Zero maintenance with automatic updates
    • Central management via Azure Firewall Manager
  • Cost-effective
    • Designed to deliver essential, cost-effective protection of your resources within your virtual network

Pricing and billing for Azure Firewall Basic with secured virtual hub will be effective starting May 1, 2023.

Azure Virtual Network Manager

Azure Virtual Network Manager (AVNM) is now generally available. AVNM is a highly scalable and available network management solution that allows you to simplify network management across subscriptions globally. Using its centralized network management capabilities, you can manage your network resources at scale from a single plane of glass.

Key features of Azure Virtual Network Manager include:

  • global management of virtual network resources across regions, subscriptions, and tenants;
  • automated management and deployment of virtual network topology to create hub and spoke*;
  • high-priority security rule enforcement at scale to protect your network resources*;
  • safe deployment of network configurations across desired regions.

*The mesh topology and security admin rule features remain in public preview and will become generally available soon

Azure Traffic Manager: reserved namespaces for subdomains

Azure Traffic Manager has added functionality for reserving domain labels for traffic manager profiles. Any customer requesting a traffic manger profile of the form will have “label1” label reserved for the tenant and another user will not be able to create a new traffic manager profile with this name or subdomains below it. For example if a user creates a profile names then “label1” and all labels of form “<labelN>….<lable2>.<label1>” will be reserved for the subscription. With these enhancements, once a namespace is created by a customer under domain, it will not be available for any other tenant. This enhancement ensures that customers have full control over the labels tree used in their traffic manager profiles and enables customers better manage their namespace without having to worry about a specific name/label being in use by other tenants.

Illumio for Azure Firewall (preview)

Microsoft partnered with Illumio, the leader in Zero Trust Segmentation, to build Illumio for Azure Firewall, an integrated solution that brings the benefits of Zero Trust Segmentation to Azure Firewall.

Illumio for Azure Firewall uses the Azure platform to protect your resources across your Azure virtual networks and at your Azure perimeter. It enables organizations to understand application traffic and dependencies and apply consistent protection across your environment – limiting exposure, containing breaches, and improving efficiency. Illumio for Azure Firewall also helps simplify Zero Trust Segmentation by enhancing visibility, streamlining policy management, and providing scalable security.

Key benefits:

  • Reduce security risks with a single view of your east-west and north-south traffic based on Azure Firewall flow data within your Azure subscriptions.
  • Gain a holistic view of your application traffic with real-time visibility of interactions and dependencies across your environment.
  • Easily deploy and configure Azure application-based polices within the Illumio platform.
  • Deploy Azure Firewall policies confidently with policies that automatically scale along with your applications.
  • Avoid application downtime by understanding the impact of Azure Firewall policies before they are enforced.
  • Works with all 3 SKUs of Azure Firewall – Basic, Standard, and Premium – to meet the needs of any organization.

Accelerated Connections for Network Virtual Appliances now in Azure Marketplace (preview)

Accelerated Connections is a new product that enhances Accelerated Networking enabled vNICs, enabling customer flexibility in selecting the best option of CPS capabilities suited to match their Azure implementation. This offering will enable you to achieve the first bare-metal-like performance levels for connections per second (CPS) in Azure.


Ephemeral OS disks supports encryption at host using customer managed keys

Ephemeral OS disks can be encrypted at host using platform managed keys or customer managed keys. The default is platform managed keys. This feature would enable our customers to meet your organization’s compliance needs.

Azure Ultra Disk Storage in Brazil Southeast, South Africa North and UAE North

Azure Ultra Disk Storage is now available in one zone in Brazil Southeast, South Africa North and UAE North region. Azure Ultra Disk Storage offers high throughput, high IOPS and consistent low latency disk storage for Azure Virtual Machines (VMs). Ultra Disk Storage is well suited for data-intensive workloads such as SAP HANA, top-tier databases and transaction-heavy workloads.

Encryption scopes on hierarchical namespace enabled storage accounts

Encryption scopes introduce the option to provision multiple encryption keys in a storage account with hierarchical namespace. Using encryption scopes, you now can provision multiple encryption keys and choose to apply the encryption scope either at the container level (as the default scope for blobs in that container) or at the blob level. The capability is available for REST, HDFS, NFSv3 and SFTP protocols in an Azure Blob / Data Lake Gen2 storage account. The key that protects an encryption scope may be either a Microsoft-managed key or a customer-managed key in Azure Key Vault. You can choose to enable automatic rotation of a customer-managed key that protects an encryption scope. When you generate a new version of the key in your Key Vault, Azure Storage will automatically update the version of the key that is protecting the encryption scope, within a day.

Performance Plus for Azure Disk Storage (preview)

Azure Disk Storage now offers a new feature called Performance Plus, which enhances the IOPS and throughput performance of Standard HDD, Standard SSD, and Standard HDD disks that are sized 1TB or larger. Performance Plus is offered for free and is available to use through deployments on Azure Command-Line Interface (CLI) and PowerShell.

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