Azure IaaS and Azure Stack: announcements and updates (February 2024 – Weeks: 05 and 06)

This blog post series highlights the key announcements and major updates related to Azure Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Azure Stack, as officially released by Microsoft in the past two weeks.



Azure VMware Solution Now Available in Italy North Region

Azure VMware Solution has been made available in the Italy North Azure Region. This expansion allows customers in Italy to integrate their VMware workloads with Azure services seamlessly, leveraging the global scale, security, and performance of Azure while maintaining the VMware tools and expertise they are accustomed to. This launch supports the growing demand for cloud solutions in the region, enabling local businesses to innovate and scale with the cloud’s flexibility and efficiency.

Italy North Region Added to Azure HDInsight

Azure HDInsight is now generally available in the Italy North region. This expansion enhances Azure’s managed, full-spectrum, open-source analytics service capabilities, allowing enterprises to leverage popular frameworks such as Hadoop, Apache Spark, Apache Hive, LLAP, Apache Kafka, and more within Italy North. The availability of HDInsight in this region enables local and global enterprises to process big data, run real-time analytics, and use machine learning more efficiently with reduced latency.


Azure Virtual Network Manager Security Admin Rule Configuration Feature

The Azure Virtual Network Manager’s security admin rule configuration feature has reached general availability (GA) across 30 regions. This feature empowers organizations to enforce security policies across their virtual networks (VNets) efficiently, spanning subscriptions and regions worldwide. By prioritizing these rules above network security groups (NSGs), it ensures a standardized approach to security, helping to mitigate misconfigurations and adherence to corporate policies. The introduction of security admin rules streamlines network management, reducing the complexity of operations while enhancing security measures for expanding network infrastructures.

Azure Virtual Network Manager Topology View

Azure Virtual Network Manager (AVNM) topology view has been officially launched and is now generally available. This innovative feature offers a scalable and reliable solution for managing networks across global subscriptions. It integrates with Azure Resource Topology (ART) to provide a comprehensive visualization of network resources, contextualized by AVNM connectivity configurations. The topology view facilitates a deeper understanding of network connections, offering insights into the connectivity among network groups and VNets, thus enhancing confidence in network deployment strategies.

ExpressRoute Guided Portal Experience (preview)

Microsoft announces the public preview of the ExpressRoute guided portal experience, aimed at simplifying the configuration of multi-site resilient ExpressRoute circuits. This new portal experience offers critical information, such as the distance between peering locations and traffic engineering recommendations, to assist customers in making informed decisions. During the preview, users can access this feature globally in the Azure public cloud via the Azure portal flight link. This initiative underscores Microsoft’s commitment to providing intuitive tools for enhancing network resiliency and connectivity.


Mount Azure Storage as a Local Share in App Service Linux Now Supports NFS

Azure App Service Linux now supports NFS when mounting an Azure File share as a local share for web apps. This update enables more flexible and efficient storage solutions for web applications hosted on Azure, streamlining the integration and management of file storage.

Azure Ultra Disk Storage Now Available in Canada East

Azure Ultra Disk Storage, offering high throughput, high IOPS, and consistent low-latency disk storage, is now available in Canada East. Ideal for data-intensive workloads such as SAP HANA, top-tier databases, and transaction-heavy workloads, Ultra Disk Storage enhances Azure Virtual Machines’ performance and capabilities in the region.

Azure NetApp Files Standard Network Features – Edit Volumes in US Gov Regions

Azure has launched a public preview for editing network features of Azure NetApp Files volumes in US Gov regions, leveraging advanced hardware and software integration. This update introduces Standard Network Features, enhancing the virtual networking experience with improved security for Azure NetApp Files. Users can now upgrade Basic network features to Standard, benefiting from increased IP limits, enhanced network security and control, and improved connectivity options. This preview is available across all US Gov regions (VA, TX, & AZ).

General Availability: Support for up to 100 TB of Storage for the FHIR Service

Azure announces general availability for expanded storage support in the FHIR service, part of Azure Health Data Services, up to 100 TB. This enhancement allows for the storage and exchange of vast amounts of health data, facilitating large-scale analytics, population health management, research, and insights from health data. Organizations requiring storage beyond the default 4 TB can request an increase through the Azure portal.

Azure Stack

Azure Stack HCI

Azure Stack HCI 23H2 General Availability

Microsoft has announced the general availability of Azure Stack HCI version 23H2, marking a significant update in cloud-managed edge infrastructure. This version is ready for production . It introduces several previews, including Azure Migrate and Microsoft Defender for Cloud, specifically designed for Azure Stack HCI environments. However, it’s noteworthy that certain features like stretched clustering and System Center VMM support are temporarily unavailable in some regions. The launch of Azure Stack HCI 23H2 represents a leap forward in Microsoft’s edge infrastructure offerings, providing enterprises with robust, scalable solutions for their hybrid cloud environments.

Key Highlights:

  • Production-Ready: Azure Stack HCI 23H2 is now ready for production environments, offering robust and reliable infrastructure solutions.
  • Seamless Update Process: An update from the previous version 22H2 to 23H2 will soon be available, specifically targeting 23H2 clusters to ensure smooth transitions.
  • Enhanced Solutions Availability: The GA version includes premier and integrated solutions, enriching the ecosystem for Azure Stack HCI users.
  • Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD) for Azure Stack HCI: AVD is now generally available, bringing together the advantages of Azure Virtual Desktop and Azure Stack HCI. This combination allows organizations to run virtualized desktops and apps securely, either on-premises at the edge or within data centers.
  • Azure Migrate Integration (Preview): Azure Stack HCI now supports Azure Migrate in preview, facilitating easier migration of workloads to Azure Stack HCI environments.
  • Microsoft Defender for Cloud Integration (Preview): Enhance your security posture with Microsoft Defender for Cloud for Azure Stack HCI, currently in preview.
  • Guidance on Using Version 22H2: It’s recommended to continue using version 22H2 temporarily if:
    1. The service is not available in your region (currently limited to East US and West Europe).
    2. You require stretched clustering support, which is not available in 23H2.
    3. Your setup relies on System Center VMM, not supported by 23H2.

Additional Information:

  • Currently, 3-node switchless deployments are not supported.
  • The GA version includes proxy support for HCI infrastructure, but not yet for VMs.
  • Updates to 23H2 can be performed through the portal on existing preview clusters or by new deployment.
  • With Windows Defender Application Control (WDAC) enabled by default in Azure Stack HCI 23H2, steps may be needed to allow certain applications to run.


Over the past two weeks, Microsoft has introduced a slew of updates and announcements pertaining to Azure Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Azure Stack. These developments underscore the tech giant’s unwavering commitment to enhancing its cloud offerings and adapting to the ever-evolving needs of businesses and developers. Users of Azure can anticipate improved functionalities, streamlined services, and enriched features as a result of these changes. Stay tuned for more insights as I continue to monitor and report on Azure’s progression in the cloud sphere.

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