Azure IaaS and Azure Stack: announcements and updates (April 2024 – Weeks: 13 and 14)

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.



Some Virtual Machines Size Will Be Retired

Microsoft Azure has announced the upcoming retirement of several virtual machine (VM) sizes within the NCv3-series, specifically the Standard_NC6s_v3, Standard_NC12s_v3, and Standard_NC24s_v3 VMs, scheduled for September 30th, 2025. Additionally, the Standard_NC24rs_v3 VM size will retire on March 31st, 2025. To ensure continuity and prevent service disruption, users are advised to transition their workloads to newer VM series within the same NC product line. In a related update, support for Basic and Standard A-series VMs in Batch pools will conclude on August 31, 2024. Users are encouraged to migrate their Batch pools to Av2-series VMs or other supported VM sizes to benefit from enhanced memory per vCPU and faster SSD storage.

On-demand capacity reservations for Specialty SKUs (preview)

Azure now offers on-demand capacity reservations for specialty VM sizes, currently in Public Preview. This feature allows for the reservation of compute capacity with SLA for specific VM sizes including Mv3, NC-series (v3 and newer), NV-series (v2 and newer), and Lsv2 series. It introduces the ability to ensure compute capacity—with SLA guarantees—is available ahead of VM deployments, crucial for maintaining the availability of business-critical applications. On-demand capacity reservations can be used in any public Azure region or availability zone, for any length of time, without commitment. These reservations can also be combined with Azure Reserved VM Instances (RIs) to further reduce costs.


Azure Virtual Network Manager Security Admin Rule Generally Available in 45 Regions

Azure Virtual Network Manager’s security admin rule configuration feature is now generally available in 45 regions. This pivotal update empowers users to enforce security policies for their virtual networks comprehensively across subscriptions and regions globally. Positioned to be evaluated before network security groups (NSGs), these rules underscore a commitment to standardized security enforcement. They are designed to mitigate potential misconfigurations and oversights, thereby safeguarding critical services and ensuring adherence to company policies. The feature highlights the ease of managing security with reduced operational complexities and introduces a default setting to minimize errors in NSG setups. For detailed insights and use cases, the virtual network flow logs documentation offers guidance on monitoring traffic allowed or denied by these rules.

Rate Limiting on ExpressRoute Direct Circuits

The general availability of Rate Limiting for ExpressRoute Direct port circuits brings a significant Quality of Service (QoS) enhancement, allowing for precise control over bandwidth usage. This feature helps prevent performance and reliability issues by enabling throttling of traffic throughput in accordance with the configured bandwidth, thus avoiding the potential for circuits to burst beyond their allocated bandwidth. Rate Limiting is available for both Private Peering and Microsoft Peering, in all Azure public cloud regions, and can be enabled for individual circuits during or after their creation process.

ExpressRoute Metro for High Resiliency (preview)

In a significant advancement for network resilience, Azure announces the public preview of ExpressRoute Metro. This high-resiliency configuration is designed to provide multi-site redundancy through a dual-homed setup, allowing for diverse connections to two distinct edge sites within a city. Initially available in Amsterdam, Singapore, and Zurich, ExpressRoute Metro enhances the reliability and uptime of connectivity from on-premises networks to Azure. This addition introduces three tiers of resiliency for ExpressRoute – Standard, High, and Maximum – enabling customers to tailor their connectivity according to desired resilience levels.

Azure Front Door (classic) will be retired on 31 March 2027

On 31 March 2027, Azure Front Door (classic) will be retired for the public cloud. Users are encouraged to migrate to Front Door Standard or Premium by that date. Starting 1 April 2025, creation of new Front Door (classic) resources will no longer be possible via the Azure portal, Terraform, or any command line tools. However, modifications to existing resources will be allowed until its retirement. Azure Front Door Standard and Premium offer enhanced capabilities for static and dynamic content delivery, along with improved security, DevOps experiences, and pricing. Migration to these newer versions is recommended to avoid service disruptions and to take advantage of better integration with Azure services.


Azure File Sync Extension on Windows Admin Center Version 4.13.0 Now Available

The release of version 4.13.0 of the Azure File Sync extension for Windows Admin Center has been announced, marking a significant update that went live on March 20th. This version brings a series of enhancements and fixes aimed at improving the Azure File Sync experience within the Windows Admin Center platform. The key improvements include an optimized setup process designed to reduce unexpected failures, facilitating smoother and more efficient deployments of Azure File Sync. Additionally, the update introduces enhanced status checks, offering a proactive approach to verify compatibility and ensure full support for the selected configurations. Furthermore, the error reporting mechanism has been overhauled to provide more detailed and actionable insights. In case of issues during the Azure File Sync setup, users will now receive comprehensive error messages, enabling them to swiftly and effectively resolve any problems. Users are encouraged to update to version 4.13.0 of the Azure File Sync extension via the Windows Admin Center public extension feed to take advantage of these improvements.

Azure Files geo-redundancy for standard large file shares

Azure Files has expanded its offerings to include geo-redundancy for 100 TiB standard SMB file shares, now generally available. Previously capped at 5TiB, these geo-redundant file shares can now scale up to 100TiB with enhanced IOPS and throughput limits. This update brings a significant improvement to the performance and scalability of Azure Files, making it more viable for larger and more demanding storage needs. Geo-redundant standard large file shares are available in 30 regions, with plans to extend this to all regions in the future.

Improved Throughput Performance on Azure Disks’ Standard SSD

Azure unveils increased throughput limits for Standard SSD Disks sizes E50 and below, now offering 100 MB/s, up from 60 MB/s. This enhancement benefits workloads requiring higher throughput, including big data processing, online analytical processing (OLAP), high-performance computing (HPC), and artificial intelligence/machine learning (AI/ML). The improved performance is accessible across all regions without requiring additional steps, while the bursting performance for Standard SSD Disk tiers remains unchanged.

Availability Zone Volume Placement for Azure NetApp Files

The availability zone volume placement feature for Azure NetApp Files has reached general availability. This enhancement enables the deployment of new volumes in the selected logical availability zone, bolstering support for enterprise-level, high availability (HA) deployments across multiple availability zones. It facilitates cross-zone replication of volumes, enhancing resilience against zonal failures. Now available in all regions with Azure NetApp Files presence that support availability zones, this feature marks a significant step forward in cloud storage flexibility and reliability.


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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