Azure Management services: what’s new in February 2024

This month, Microsoft introduced a series of significant updates related to Azure management services. Through this series of monthly articles, we aim to offer an overview of the most relevant news. The goal is to keep you constantly informed about these developments, providing you with the essential information to further explore these topics.

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

Figures 1 – Overview of Management Services in Azure


Azure Monitor

Availability of the Azure Monitor Metrics Data Plane API

As of February, the Azure Monitor Metrics Data Plane API is available for use. This API allows for efficient management and monitoring of Azure resources, improving query efficiency and metric collection capability. It is possible to retrieve metric data for up to 50 resource IDs in the same subscription and region with a single API call, thus optimizing query throughput and reducing the risk of throttling.

Execution of the Azure Monitor Logs connector on an exact time range (preview)

The Azure Monitor Logs connector introduces a new preview feature: the ability to execute queries on an exact time range provided dynamically. This functionality allows for filtering the execution of queries in the Log Analytics workspace or Application Insights components for Logic App triggers or schedules, displaying relevant results. Until now, the time range could be set directly in the query or defined with a relative value, such as the last hour or the last 12 hours. With the exact time range option, it is now possible to dynamically pass the start and end time to respond to scenarios such as alarm diagnostics. When the connector is activated by an alarm, it can receive the alarm’s time range to replicate the results that triggered the alarm and allow for effective investigation.


Azure Cost Management

Updates related to Microsoft Cost Management

Microsoft is constantly seeking new methodologies to improve Microsoft Cost Management, the solution to provide greater visibility into where costs are accumulating in the cloud, identify and prevent incorrect spending patterns, and optimize costs. This article reports some of the latest improvements and updates regarding this solution.

Azure Arc

Azure SQL migration assessment enabled by Azure Arc (preview)

With the growing adoption of cloud computing, organizations embark on the path of migration to the cloud, facing a complex and articulated challenge that can extend for several months, varying based on the size and complexity of the projects involved. This transition period can result in a delay in accessing the benefits offered by Azure’s capabilities, temporarily limiting operational efficiency and innovation.

To overcome these challenges, Microsoft introduces an innovative solution: SQL Server enabled for Azure Arc. This revolutionary technology allows organizations to begin leveraging the benefits of the cloud from the early stages of the migration process. Through Azure Arc, it is possible to manage SQL Server instances, both on-premise and distributed across multiple clouds, using Azure’s control plane and management services. This approach enables consistent and efficient hybrid management of the SQL Server environment, bringing immediate benefits in terms of operational efficiencies and cost reduction, in addition to ensuring an optimal migration and modernization experience.

In addition to these benefits, Microsoft announces the public preview release of the Azure SQL migration assessment, powered by Azure Arc. This feature, once activated by linking one’s SQL Server to Azure Arc, automatically and continuously provides an assessment of readiness for migration to Azure SQL. This assessment takes into account the evolutions of the work environment and suggests the Azure SQL deployment option best suited to specific needs, optimizing costs. Furthermore, it identifies potential migration risks and proposes mitigation strategies, thus facilitating the transition path to the cloud and improving strategic alignment with business needs.


Microsoft Defender for Cloud

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

The development of Microsoft Defender for Cloud is constantly evolving, with continuous improvements being introduced. To stay updated on the latest developments, Microsoft updates this page, which provides information on new features, bug fixes, and deprecated features. Specifically, this month’s main news includes:

  • Regulatory compliance management: through Defender for Cloud, the management of compliance standards is extended to Azure, AWS, and GCP environments, offering a unified experience in creating and managing personalized recommendations through KQL queries.
  • Cloud support for Defender for Containers: the threat detection capabilities specific to Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS) in Defender for Container are now extended to commercial clouds, Azure Government, and Azure China 21Vianet, with the list of supported features updated.
  • Update of the Defender FOR Container agent: a new version of the agent, which brings improvements in terms of performance and security, supports AMD64 and ARM64 architectures (Linux only) and employs Inspektor Gadget for process collection instead of Sysdig. This version is compatible exclusively with Linux kernel version 5.4 or higher, requiring updates for older kernels. ARM64 support is available starting from AKS V1.29.
  • Support for the OCI image format specification: vulnerability assessment now supports the Open Container Initiative (OCI) image format specification for AWS, Azure, and GCP clouds, thanks to Microsoft Defender Vulnerability Management.
  • Retirement of the AWS container vulnerability assessment powered by Trivy: this assessment has been replaced by a new solution powered by Microsoft Defender Vulnerability Management.
  • Recommendations for Azure Stack HCI: four new recommendations specific to Azure Stack HCI, currently in public preview, have been introduced, thus expanding the type of resources manageable through Microsoft Defender for Cloud.


Azure Backup

Support for Cross-Region recovery of PostgreSQL backups

Support for cross-region recovery of PostgreSQL backups through Azure Backup is now available to all. Using Read-Access Geo-Redundant Storage (RA-GRS), Azure Backup enables a high level of data resilience, allowing access to backups in disaster recovery scenarios and restoration operations from the secondary region at any time. This feature is now available for PostgreSQL backups in all public regions, offering a wide range of durability options for backup data.

Regional Disaster Recovery via Azure Backup for AKS (preview)

Azure Backup for AKS introduces a new feature in preview: Regional Disaster Recovery. This innovation provides advanced protection for containerized application workloads and data through scheduled backups and smooth restorations, ideal for addressing situations such as operational recovery, accidental deletion, and application migration. Thanks to Regional Disaster Recovery, organizations can anticipate and mitigate the impact of catastrophic regional events through the recovery of AKS clusters from backups located in a secondary region, leveraging Azure’s paired regions. This ensures operational continuity even in the face of regional disruptions, complying with the established 3-2-1 backup strategy and providing the resilience needed to ensure data recovery after tenant-compromising events, in addition to meeting compliance requirements imposed by heavily regulated sectors.

Extended support for VMs with Ultra and Premium SSD v2 disks

Azure has announced the general availability launch of extended support of Azure Backup for virtual machines (VMs) that use Ultra and Premium SSD v2 disks. This development represents a significant step forward in strengthening the resilience and recovery capabilities of businesses managing critical enterprise applications and high-intensity I/O in the cloud. Ultra disks, known for their ability to support enterprise-level applications such as SAP HANA, high-end SQL databases, and NoSQL databases, offer organizations the flexibility needed to run demanding workloads with ease. Simultaneously, Premium SSD v2 disks stand out as the most advanced block storage solution, optimized for IO-intensive production workloads that require latencies below one millisecond. The availability of these technologies in Azure Backup meets a fundamental customer demand, eager to ensure operational continuity of their VMs in the event of disasters or ransomware attacks. With the enablement of backup for VMs using both Ultra and Premium SSD v2 disks, Azure positions itself as a robust cloud platform capable of offering solid and efficient recovery solutions. These advanced backup options are designed for a wide spectrum of applications, including SQL Server, Oracle, MariaDB, SAP, Cassandra, Mongo DB, big data, analytics, and gaming, on virtual machines or stateful containers. The availability of these features in all regions that support the creation of Ultra and Premium SSD v2 disks highlights Azure’s commitment to providing reliable and cutting-edge backup solutions, thus promoting security, resilience, and operational efficiency for businesses globally.

Azure Site Recovery

Enabling replication for data disks added to VMware VMs

Azure Site Recovery now supports enabling replication for data disks added to a VMware VM already enabled for disaster recovery. Thanks to this update, users can ensure greater operational continuity and better data resilience management, extending disaster recovery protection to data disks added after the VM protection is enabled.

Support of Azure Site Recovery for Azure Trusted Launch VMs (preview)

Microsoft has announced the preview of Azure Site Recovery support for Azure Trusted Launch VMs, exclusively for Windows operating systems. These VMs provide basic security for Azure Generation 2 systems, enabling Secure Boot and vTPM capabilities.


Azure Migrate

New releases and features of Azure Migrate

Azure Migrate is the service in Azure that includes a broad portfolio of tools that can be used, through a guided user experience, to effectively address the most common migration scenarios. To stay updated on the latest developments of the solution, you can consult this page, which provides information on new releases and new features.

Azure Evaluation

For those who wish to explore and personally evaluate the services offered by Azure, a unique opportunity is available: by accessing this page, you can test various features and services for free. This will allow you to better understand how Azure can adapt and improve your IT operations, while ensuring security and innovation.

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