Category Archives: Azure Management

Azure Management services: what's new in January 2023

The new year started with several announcements from Microsoft regarding news related to Azure management services. The monthly release of this summary allows you to have an overall overview of the main news of the month, in order to stay up to date on these topics and have the necessary references to conduct further exploration.

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

Certificate the IT Service Management Connector (ITSMC) with ServiceNow Tokyo version (preview)

The IT Service Management Connector (ITSMC) is certified on the Tokyo version of ServiceNow. This connector provides a two-way connection between Azure Monitor and ServiceNow, useful to help you track and fix problems faster.

Govern

Azure Cost Management

Management of billing accounts for EA customers

For Enterprise Agreement customers (EA) “indirect” the ability to manage your billing accounts directly from Cost Management and Billing has been introduced. All relevant information regarding department, account and subscription are available directly from the Azure portal. Furthermore, from the same point it is possible to view the properties and manage the policies of the indirect EA enrollments.

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

Active Directory Connector for Arc-enabled SQL MI

Azure Arc-enabled data services introduced Active Directory support (AD) for the management of Identity and Access Management (IAM). Indeed, the Arc-enabled SQL Managed instance can use an Active Directory domain (AD) existing on-premises for authentication. To facilitate this, Azure Arc-enabled data services introduce a new Custom Resource Definition (CRD) native Kubernetes called Active Directory Connector. This provides Azure Arc-enabled SQL Managed Instances running on the same data controller the ability to perform Active Directory authentication.

View SQL Server databases using Azure Arc (preview)

Today, customers and partners manage a large number of databases. For each of these databases, it is essential to be able to create an accurate mapping of the configurations. This may be for inventory or reporting purposes. Centralizing database inventory in Azure using Azure Arc allows you to create a unified view of all your databases in one place, regardless of the infrastructure in which they are located: in Azure, in the data center, at edge sites or even other clouds.

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:

  • the endpoint protection component (Microsoft Defender for Endpoint) it is now accessible on the Settings and monitors page;
  • new version of the recommendation to find missing system updates;
  • cleanup of deleted Azure Arc machines in linked AWS and GCP accounts.

Protect

Azure Backup

Updates and improvements regarding SAP HANA

The following updates and improvements have been made recently to Azure Backup for SAP HANA, the certified solution Backint for protecting SAP HANA databases residing in Azure virtual machines:

  • Long-term retention for backups “adhoc”: it is now possible to provide customized retention for backups that occur on demand, outside the scheduled policies.
  • Partial restore-as-files: Azure Backup for HANA allows recovery points to be restored as a file. If you download the entire chain for one recovery point and want to repeat the operation for another adjacent recovery point, you don't need to download the entire chain again. It is also possible to restore only the files you want.
  • Integration with native clients and with other tools: previously, for certain scenarios, it was necessary to deactivate backint before the request and reactivate it afterwards, thereby increasing the RPO. With the improvements introduced, these additional steps are no longer necessary and it will be sufficient to activate the requests from the native clients or from the other tools used.

Azure Site Recovery

Ability to use Azure Backup Center for ASR monitor

Azure Backup Center is the point of reference for those who use the native backup features of the Azure platform and allows them to govern, to monitor, manage and analyze backup tasks. Microsoft has extended its capabilities by including monitor capabilities for Azure Site Recovery, which:

  • Viewing the inventory of replicated items, from a single view, for all vaults.
  • Consultation through a control panel of all the replication jobs.

Azure Backup Center supports ASR replication scenarios involving Azure virtual machines, VMware and physical machines.

Migrate

Azure Migrate

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. In particular, this month the main news concern:

  • Possibility to plan savings with the ASP savings option (Azure Savings Plan for compute) with the Azure Migrate business case and assessment.
  • Support for exporting the business case report to an .xlsx workbook from the portal.

Evaluation of Azure

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

Azure Management services: what's new in December 2022

In December, several news regarding Azure management were announced by Microsoft services. The release of this summary, which occurs on a monthly basis, want to provide an overview of the main news of the month, in order to stay updated on these topics and have the necessary references to conduct further investigations.

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

Azure Monitor Agent: IIS logs and custom logs

The Azure Monitor agent allows you to collect text files and IIS logs and merge them into a Log Analytics workspace. In this regard, a new feature has been introduced to allow the collection of text logs generated in the application environment, exactly as it happens for Internet Information Service logs (IIS).

Azure Monitor Logs: custom log API and ingestion-time transformation

A new set of features is now available in Azure Monitor that allows you to fully customize the shape of the data that flows into your workspace, plus a new API for custom data merging. Thanks to these new features, it is possible to envisage customized transformations to the data at the time of ingestion. These transformations can be used to set up the extraction of fields during ingestion, obfuscate sensitive data, proceed to remove unnecessary fields or to delete complete events (useful for example to contain costs). Furthermore, it is possible to completely customize the data sent to the new API for custom logs. As well as being able to specify a transformation on the data sent to the new API, you can also explicitly define the schema of your custom table (including dynamic data structures) and leverage AAD authentication and ARM RBAC management.

Configure

Azure Automation

Extension for the Hybrid Runbook Worker

The User Hybrid Worker extension was announced in Azure Automation, which is based on the virtual machine extensions framework and offers an integrated installation experience. There is no dependency on the Log Analytics agent and workspace, and authentication is via System-assigned managed identities, eliminating the need to manage certificates. Furthermore, ensures automatic minor version upgrades by default and simplifies small-scale management of Hybrid Workers through the Azure portal, cmdlet PowerShell, Azure CLI, Bicep, ARM templates and the REST API.

Govern

Azure Cost Management

Use tag inheritance for cost management (preview)

Tag inheritance was announced in a public preview, which allows you to automatically apply subscription and resource group tags to child resources. This mechanism simplifies cost management pipelines.

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 the main improvements and updates of this solution are reported for the year 2022.

Azure Arc

Azure Arc enabled Azure Container Apps (preview)

Azure Container Apps enables developers to quickly build and deploy microservices and containerized applications. Deploying an Arc extension on Azure Arc enabled Kubernetes cluster, IT administrators gain control of the underlying hardware and environment, enabling high productivity of Azure PaaS services within a hybrid environment. The cluster can be on-premise or hosted in a third-party cloud. This approach allows developers to leverage the functionality and productivity of Azure Container Apps anywhere, not only in Azure environment. While, IT administrators can maintain corporate compliance by hosting applications in hybrid environments.

Server Azure Arc enabled in Azure China

Azure Arc-enabled servers are now also operable in two regions of Azure China: Est China 2 and North China 2.

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.

Protect

Azure Backup

Recovery of Azure virtual machines Cross Zonal

Azure Backup exploits the potential of Zonal Redundant Storage (ZRS), which stores three replicas of backup data in different Availability Zones, synchronously. This allows recovery points stored in the Recovery Services Vault to be used with ZRS storage even if the backup data in one of the Availability Zones is unavailable, ensuring data availability within a region.

The Cross Zonal Restore option can be considered when:

  • Zone-wide availability of backup data is critical, and backup data downtime is unacceptable. This allows you to restore Azure virtual machines and disks to any zone of your choice in the same region.
  • Backup data resilience is needed along with data residency.

Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS) Backup (private preview)

For the Azure Backup service, the private preview of AKS Backup was announced. Using this feature it is possible:

  • Back up and restore containerized applications, both stateless and stateful, running on AKS clusters
  • Back up and restore data stored on persistent volumes attached to clusters.
  • Perform backup orchestration and management from the Backup Center.

Azure Site Recovery

Increased the churn limit (preview)

Azure Site Recovery (ASR) increased the data churn limit by approx 2,5 times, bringing it to 50 MB/s per disk. This way you can configure disaster recovery (DR) for Azure VMs with a data churn of up to 100 MB/s. This allows you to enable DR for IO intensive workloads. This feature is only available for Azure-to-Azure replication scenarios.

New Update Rollup

For Azure Site Recovery was released theUpdate Rollup 65 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

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. The main news of this month are described in detail in the following paragraphs.

Software inventory and agentless dependency analysis

Azure Migrate agentless software inventory and dependency analysis is now available for Hyper-V VMs, for bare-metal servers and for servers running on other public clouds such as AWS and GCP. It is therefore possible to inventory the applications, the roles and features installed on those systems. Furthermore, you can run dependency analysis on discovered Windows and Linux servers without installing any agents. Thanks to these features it is possible to build migration plans to Azure more effectively, going to group the servers related to each other.

Building a business case with Azure Migrate (preview)

Azure Migrate's business case feature helps you build business propositions to understand how Azure can drive the most value. Indeed, this solution allows you to understand the return on investment regarding the migration of server systems to Azure, of SQL Server deployments and ASP.NET web applications running in the VMware environment . The business case can be created with just a few clicks and can help you understand:

  • Total cost of ownership on-premises vs Azure and annual cash flow.
  • Resource utilization-based insights to identify ideal servers and workloads for the cloud and recommendations for right sizing in Azure.
  • Benefits for migration and modernization, including the end of support for Windows and SQL versions.
  • Long-term savings by moving from a capital expenditure model to an operating expenditure model, paying only for what you use.

Evaluation of Azure

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

How to simplify systems management with Azure Automanage

The adoption of cloud solutions has helped to reduce operating expenses (Opex) and the management costs in numerous areas of IT. Indeed, many systems that previously ran on-premises and were complex to maintain are now simple managed services in the cloud.. At the same time though, the execution of systems located in different environments; and the wide range of new Azure services, can make operational management articulated. Microsoft, to better manage the various services and their configuration, provides the solution Azure Automanage, which appropriately integrated with Azure Arc, allows you to automate various operations during the entire life cycle of the machines, regardless of where they reside. This article lists the characteristics of the solution, showing how Azure Automanage, together with Azure Arc, can facilitate the day-to-day tasks of system administrators and ensure optimal adherence to Microsoft best practices.

Simplify the configuration and management of systems wherever they reside

Azure Automanage Automatically implement best practices in machine management while ensuring security compliance, corporate compliance and business continuity. Furthermore, Azure Arc for servers extends the possibilities offered by Azure in the field of governance and management also to physical machines and virtual systems that reside in environments other than Azure. To learn more about the implementation guidelines, Microsoft's proven best practices and tools designed to accelerate your cloud adoption journey should be referenced Microsoft Cloud Adoption Framework.

Quickly configure Windows and Linux server

By adopting this solution, you can detect, integrate and configure different Azure services during the entire life cycle of the machines, making a distinction between Production environments and DevTest environments. Azure services automatically managed by Azure Automanage and related specifications are available in this Microsoft documentation:

Figure 1 – Overview of services managed by Azure Automanage

The inclusion of machines in the service can take place on a large scale or individually, with the certainty that if the systems do not comply with the best practices imposed, Azure Automanage will be able to detect and correct them automatically.

The service can be activated directly from the Azure portal and requires a few simple steps.

The choice of configuration profiles

Azure Automanage uses configuration profiles to determine which Azure services should be enabled on the selected systems. Two configuration profiles are currently available by default, one for the DevTest environment and one for the Production environment. The two profiles are distinguished by the types of services to be enabled on the different workloads. Furthermore, in addition to the standard profiles it is allowed to configure some custom profiles with a certain subset of preferences regarding the various services.

After you enable the service Azure Automanage The process that leads the machines back to the best practices specified in the chosen configuration profile is started.

The status of the VMs after activation of the service can be of different types, here described.

Azure Automanage also recently introduced new profile customization options and more supported operating systems, including Windows 10/11, Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Canonical Ubuntu and SUSE Linux Enterprise Server.

Configure Windows and Linux servers in Azure environments, hybrid or multi-cloud through Azure Arc

Azure Automanage can be enabled on both Azure VMs and Azure Arc-enabled servers. Furthermore, Azure Automanage for Windows Server offers new features specific to Windows Server Azure Edition, that improve the uptime of Windows Server VMs in Azure and Azure Stack HCI environment. These features include:

  • Hotpatch
  • SMB over QUIC
  • Azure Extended Networking

Advantages of the solution

The adoption of Azure Automanage involves several advantages for the customer that can be summarized in the following points:

  • Cost reduction, automating machine management
  • Optimize workload uptime by performing tasks in an optimized way
  • Control over the implementation of security best practices

Conclusions

Machine life cycle management, especially in heterogeneous and large environments, can be very expensive in terms of time and costs. Furthermore, activities that are repeated frequently can be prone to errors, leading systems to a non-optimal configuration. Thanks to this integration between Azure Automanage and Azure Arc it is possible to simplify and automate all the operations necessary to ensure that the systems adhere to the desired requirements.

Azure Management services: what's new in November 2022

In November, Microsoft released some important news regarding Azure management services. Through these articles released on a monthly basis, we want to provide an overall overview of the main news of the month, in order to stay up to date on these arguments and have the necessary references for further information.

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

Configure

Azure Automation

Support for Availability Zones

Azure Automation has introduced support for Availability Zones so that it can provide greater resiliency and reliability to the service, runbooks and other automation resources. In case a zone is inactive, no user action is required to recover from a zone fault, in fact, the service will be made accessible through the other available areas. In addition to high availability, this feature is useful for implementing a disaster recovery strategy for the Automation Account, often a key component in DR plans in Azure.

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, including:

  • Ability to use tag inheritance to group subscriptions and resource groups.
  • View cost change over previous period, in the cost analysis preview.

Azure Advisor: new cost recommendations for Virtual Machine Scale Sets

Azure Advisor has expanded the recommendations to include cost optimizations for Virtual Machine Scale Sets as well. Recommendations will include recommendations for shutting down resources that are not being used, recommendations for changing the SKU and downscaling for underutilized resources versus provisioning.

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:

  • Protecting containers in a GCP environment with Defender for Containers
  • Ability to validate Defender for Containers protections via sample alerts
  • Governance rules at scale (preview)

Protect

Azure Backup

Cross-subscription recovery for VMs in Azure (preview)

The Cross Subscription Restore feature was announced in preview and allows you to restore Azure virtual machines, by creating or restoring new disks, in any subscription, starting from the restore point created by Azure Backup. By default, Azure Backup restores in the same subscription where the recovery points are available. With this new feature, you get the flexibility to perform restores in any subscription of the tenant. Cross Subscription Restore is also supported for restore with Managed System Identities (MSI), while it is not currently supported for Azure encrypted virtual machines and Trusted Launch VMs.

Migrate

Azure Migrate

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. In particular, this month the main news concern:

  • Support for using a sudo account to perform agentless dependency analysis on Linux servers running in environments VMware, Hyper-V and for physical systems or in other cloud environments.
  • Support for selecting VNets and Subnets during test migration (Using PowerShell) for the agentless VMware scenario.
  • OS disk swap support for agentless VMware scenario.
  • Support for pausing and resuming replicas using PowerShell for VMware agentless scenario.

Azure Database Migration

Offline Azure SQL Database migrations with the Azure SQL Migration extension

To perform offline migrations of SQL Server databases running on-premises, SQL Server on Azure virtual machines or any virtual machine running in the cloud (private, public) to Azure SQL Database you can use the extension Azure SQL Migration

New Azure SQL Migration extension migration feature provides an end-to-end experience to modernize SQL Servers in Azure SQL Database. The extension allows you to check the readiness of the migration with actions for: remedying possible migration blocks, export assessment results and get appropriate Azure recommendations.

Evaluation of Azure

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

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.

Azure Management services: what's new in September 2022

In September there were several news that Microsoft announced regarding Azure management services. This article lists the main announcements, accompanied by the necessary references to be able to conduct further studies on.

The following diagram shows the different areas related to management, which are covered in this series of articles, in order to stay up to date on these topics and to better deploy and maintain applications and resources.

Figure 1 – Management services in Azure overview

Monitor

Azure Monitor

Monitors for VM and AKS clusters based on Arm

Azure Monitor introduced support for Ampere Altra Arm-based Azure virtual machines and Azure Kubernetes service consisting of Arm nodes.

Update required for MMA using SSL v1

Starting November 1st 2022, Azure will no longer accept connections from previous versions of the Operations Manager agent, also known as the Microsoft Monitoring Agent (MMA), using SSL V1. If the Operations Manager agent is configured to send data to Log Analytics, the agent must be updated to the latest version by that date.

Expected retirement of ITSM connector for ServiceNow

Microsoft announced that the 30 September 2025 the Azure Monitor ITSM connector for creating alerts in ServiceNow will be retired. For those who use this integration, it will be possible to create incidents or events using the appropriate Secure Webhook.

Govern

Azure Policy

Azure Policy built-in per Azure NetApp Files

Microsoft has introduced built-in policies related to Azure NetApp Files to allow administrators to restrict the creation of unprotected NFS volumes and to more easily control existing volumes.

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, including:

  • Ability to monitor budgets from the Azure app for mobile devices.
  • Ability to obtain detailed information on possible savings directly from cost analysis (preview).

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:

  • Defender for Servers support for File Integrity Monitoring functionality using the Azure Monitor Agent.
  • The addition of identity recommendations.

Protect

Azure Backup

Reserved capacity per Azure Backup Storage

To optimize costs, it is possible to purchase the Azure Backup Storage capacity in reserved capacity mode. The reservation will automatically apply to the selected Backup Storage and will be available on an annual basis with a discount until 16% or on a three-year basis with a discount of 24%.

Alert in Azure Monitor

Thanks to this integration between Azure Monitor and Azure Backup it is possible to generate alerts for critical events related to the security of backups and in case of errors in the protection of resources. To monitor these alerts, you can use the Azure Monitor dashboard or the Backup center. Thanks to this integration it is also possible to route these alerts to different notification channels.

Migrate

Azure Migrate

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. In particular, this month the main news concern:

  • The introduction of support for suspending and resuming replicas of VMs in progress, without having to perform a full replication again.
  • Advanced notifications regarding migration completion status and migration testing.
  • Detection of Java web apps on Apache Tomcat running on Linux servers hosted in VMware environments.
  • For ASP.NET web apps the possibility of carrying out an advanced data collection, including detection of database connection strings, directories and authentication mechanisms.

Evaluation of Azure

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

Azure Management services: what's new in August 2022

Microsoft constantly releases news about Azure management services. By publishing this summary, we want to provide an overall overview of the main news released in the last month. This allows you to stay up-to-date on these topics and have the necessary references to conduct further investigations.

The following diagram shows the different areas related to management, which are covered in this series of articles, in order to stay up to date on these topics and to better deploy and maintain applications and resources.

Figure 1 – Management services in Azure overview

Monitor

Azure Monitor

Azure Monitor metric alerts: improvement in learning the thresholds

The “metric alerts” of Azure Monitor with dynamic threshold detection, use machine learning algorithms (ML) advanced tools to learn the historical behavior of metrics and identify patterns and anomalies that indicate possible problems in services. Thanks to the introduction of this new feature, prolonged interruptions are automatically recognized and these interruptions are removed from the trend in order not to distort the results. In this way, much better thresholds are obtained that adapt to the data and can detect problems in services with the same sensitivity before the interruption.

VM insights and the use of the new Azure Monitor agent (preview)

Currently, in order to use Azure Monitor VM insights you need to install, on board each virtual machine or virtual machine scale set to be monitored, the Log Analytics agent and the dependency agent. Thanks to the release of this new feature (preview) VM insights will use the new Azure Monitor agent, instead of the Log Analytics agent.

There are several features that are obtained with this preview:

  • Easy configuration, using the data collection rule, to collect the performance counters of VMs and specific data types.
  • Ability to enable and disable processes and dependency data that generate the Map view, thus obtaining a consequent cost optimization.
  • Improvement of security and performance resulting from the use of the Azure Monitor agent and managed identity.

Managed identity-based authentication to enable Azure Monitor container insights (preview)

Container insights now supports integration through the Azure Monitor agent for AKS clusters (Linux nodes) and for Arc-enabled clusters. This agent collects performance and event data from all cluster nodes and is automatically deployed and registered with the Log Analytics workspace. With the Azure Monitor agent, container insights also supports managed identity authentication for AKS and Arc-enabled clusters. This is a secure and simplified authentication model in which the monitor agent uses the managed identity of the cluster to send data to Azure Monitor. This new authentication mechanism replaces local authentication based on certificates and eliminates the need to add a specific role to the cluster. System-assigned identities and user-assigned identities are supported.

Availability in new regions

Azure Monitor Log Analytics is available in the following new regions:

  • China North 3
  • China East 3

To check the availability of the service in all the Azure regions you can consult this document.

Govern

Azure Policy

Policy to block the deployment of potential vulnerable images

To protect Kubernetes clusters and their container-based workloads from potential attack attempts, it is now possible to create restrictions in the deployment of images that contain vulnerabilities in their software components. Thanks to this feature it is possible to use Azure Policy and Azure Defender for Containers to identify vulnerabilities and apply related patches before making deployments.

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. In particular, it should be noted the possibility to consolidate and manage various Azure Active Directory tenants from a single Billing account of the Microsoft Customer Agreement (MCA).

Azure Arc

Azure Arc-enable Servers: availability in new regions

Azure Arc-enable Servers is available in the following new regions:

  • China East 2 (preview)
  • China North 2 (preview)
  • South Africa North

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:

  • Automatic deployment of the Azure Monitor agent (preview)
  • Deprecated alerts regarding suspicious activity related to a Kubernetes cluster

Protect

Azure Site Recovery

New Update Rollup

For Azure Site Recovery was released theUpdate Rollup 63 that solves several issues and introduces some improvements.

Among the main improvements introduced by this version of the ASR components, we find:

  • Oracle Linux support 8.6 for Linux OS/Azure to Azure and for VMware/Physical to Azure
  • The ability to migrate existing replication jobs from classic to modern mode for VMware virtual machines (see next paragraph “Upgrade to adopt VMware's modern VM replication experience”)

The details and the procedure to follow for the installation can be found in the specific KB.

Upgrade to adopt VMware's modern VM replication experience

In ASR the possibility of migrating has been introduced, VMware virtual machines protected by Azure Site Recovery, from the classical experience to the modern one recently introduced. The classic mode involves the replication of VMware VMs using the Configuration Server, while the modern mode involves the adoption of the ASR replication appliance. The migration process, towards the modern mode, which was introduced provides:

  • A detection mechanism that allows you not to have to repeat the initial replication of protected systems.
  • The calculation of the necessary migration times, in order to have all the elements necessary for proper planning.
  • A robust rollback mechanism, to restore the initial situation (classic mode) if any problems arise.

The adoption of the modern replication mechanism is recommended by Microsoft as it improves security, reduce the management effort and simplify the environment.

Migrate

Azure Migrate

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. In particular, this month the main news concern:

  • Ability to perform the discovery and assessment of SQL environments in Microsoft Hyper-V and physical / bare-metal systems, as well as on the IaaS services of other public clouds.

Evaluation of Azure

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

Azure Management services: what's new in July 2022

Microsoft is constantly announcing news regarding Azure management services and as usual this monthly summary is released. The aim is to provide an overview of the main news of the month, in order to stay up to date on these topics and have the necessary references to conduct further exploration.

The following diagram shows the different areas related to management, which are covered in this series of articles, in order to stay up to date on these topics and to better deploy and maintain applications and resources.

Figure 1 – Management services in Azure overview

Monitor

Azure Monitor

Azure Monitor for SAP Solutions (preview)

Azure Monitor has launched a new version, called Azure Monitor for SAP solutions (AMS), for the SAP solutions monitor (preview). This new version allows, for SAP workloads in Azure, to collect SAP information and telemetry. This solution is useful for both SAP BASIS teams and infrastructure teams who can consult the information collected in a single location.

Migration tools for the Azure Monitor Agent (preview)

The Azure Monitor Agent (AMA) offers a secure way, economically convenient, simplified and performing for the collection of telemetry data from Azure virtual machines, from Virtual Machine Scale Set, from Arc-enabled servers and Windows clients. Migration from the Log Analytics agent (MMA or OMS agents) it must take place by August 2024. To make this process easier for you, Microsoft is providing dedicated agent migration tools, that allow you to automate the migration process. For further details you can consult the Microsoft's official documentation.

Azure Monitor Agent: support for User-assigned Managed Identity (preview)

The new Azure Monitor Agent (AMA) now supports User-assigned Managed Identities in preview. Thanks to this support, it is possible to use the policies to distribute the extension of the AMA on virtual machines and on virtual machine scale sets. User-assigned Managed Identities allow for greater scalability and resilience than System Assigned Identities, thus becoming the recommended method for large-scale installations using extensions.

Configure

Update management center (preview)

Update management center is the new solution that helps centrally manage and govern updates of all machines. It works without the need for onboarding, as it is a solution that is natively based on the Azure Compute platform and Azure Arc-enabled servers. This solution will soon take the place of Update Management of Azure Automation, removing any dependency on Azure Automation and Log Analytics. Update management center is, today, able to manage and govern updates on:

  • Windows and Linux operating systems
  • Machines residing in Azure, locally and on other cloud platforms, thanks to Azure Arc

Among the main strengths of the new solution we find:

  • Centralized visibility of updates
  • Native integration and zero onboarding
  • Integration with Azure roles and identities
  • High flexibility in managing updates

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.

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:

Protect

Azure Backup

Smart tiering: automatic move to the vault-archive tier (preview)

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.

Azure Site Recovery

Mitigated Azure Site Recovery vulnerabilities

Microsoft has corrected a number of Azure Site Recovery vulnerabilities (ASR) releasing updates on 12 July, during Microsoft's regular update cycle. These vulnerabilities affect all customers using ASR in a VMware / Physical to Azure replication scenario. These vulnerabilities have been corrected in the latest version of ASR 9.49. For more information you can consult this bulletin.

New Update Rollup

For Azure Site Recovery was released theUpdate Rollup 62 which solves various problems and introduces some new features, among which:

  • Support for Linux OS / Azure to Azure: RHEL 8.6 and Cent OS 8.6
  • Support for VMware / Physical to Azure: RHEL 8.6 and Cent OS 8.6
  • Support for configuring “proxy bypass” for VMware and Hyper-V replicas, using private endpoints.

The related details and the procedure to follow for installation can be found in specific KB.

Migrate

Azure Migrate

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.

Evaluation of Azure

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

Azure Management services: what's new in June 2022

In June, Microsoft announced a considerable number of news regarding Azure management services. Through these articles released monthly we want to provide an overall overview of the main news, in order to stay up to date on these arguments and have the necessary references for further information.

The following diagram shows the different areas related to management, which are covered in this series of articles, in order to stay up to date on these topics and to better deploy and maintain applications and resources.

Figure 1 – Management services in Azure overview

Monitor

Azure Monitor

New version of the agent for Linux systems

A new version of the Azure Monitor Agent was released this month (AMA) and of Data Collection Rules (DCR) for Linux systems (v1.19.3), which introduces in particular support for recent distros, like Ubuntu 22.04, Rocky Linux, and AlmaLinux.

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, including:

Azure Arc

Windows Admin Center from the Azure portal for Azure Arc servers (preview)

Using Windows Admin Center from the Azure portal, it is now also possible to manage the Microsoft Azure Arc-enabled infrastructure.

Azure Arc-enabled System Center Virtual Machine Manager (preview)

System Center Virtual Machine Manager (VMM) has been used for several years to configure, manage and transform on-premises data centers. Microsoft has announced the availability of Azure Arc-enabled System Center Virtual Machine Manager. This is a new Azure Arc feature that allows on-premises environments, managed by System Center Virtual Machine Manager, to be connected to Azure, thus unlocking Azure-based self-service. In this way, VMM-controlled on-premises virtual machines can be created, managed and deleted, in on-premises System Center Virtual Machine Manager deployments, via the familiar Azure portal or using ARM templates, thus ensuring a consistent experience.

Machine Learning with Azure Kubernetes Service and Arc-enabled Machine Learning

With a simple distribution of the cluster extension in an AKS environment or on Kubernetes clusters (Arc Kubernetes) Azure Arc enabled, the cluster is supported in Azure ML.

Azure Key Vault secrets provider on cluster Kubernetes Azure Arc enabled

The extension Azure Key Vault (AKV) Secrets Provider allows you to retrieve the secrets, keys and certificates from an Azure Key Vault in a Kubernetes cluster connected to Arc. This feature eliminates the need to store and maintain secrets locally on K8s clusters, relying on AKV as a centralized solution for secret management.

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:

  • Defender for Azure Cosmos DB
  • Defender for SQL on machines in AWS and GCP environments

Protect

Azure Backup

Multiple backups per day for Azure VMs

Azure Backup allows you to create advanced policies to take multiple snapshots of virtual machines per day. Now, to address the need to protect mission-critical workloads aboard virtual machines, there is the possibility of reducing the RPO parameter up to four hours. Thanks to this feature, you can also get a higher retention with regards to instant restore. Indeed, the policy is designed to offer from seven-day instant recovery retention (default duration) up to a maximum of thirty days.

Multi-user authorization for recovery services vault

Multi-user authorization (MUA – Multi User Authorization) for Azure Backup adds an additional layer of protection for critical operations on recovery service vault, providing greater security regarding backups. To provide multi-user authorization, Azure Backup has introduced a resource protection mechanism that ensures that critical operations are performed only if you have obtained the appropriate permission. In this way, Azure Backup provides better protection against operations that could lead to potential loss of backup data, including:

  • Disabling soft delete and hybrid security settings
  • Disabling the protection of multi-user authorization
  • Edit backup policies (to reduce the conservation)
  • Changing the security (to reduce the conservation)
  • Interruption of protection with the deletion of data
  • Changing the MARS security PIN

The backup administrator, which typically holds the recovery services vault, must obtain the role of contributor in the protection of the resources to be able to perform the above protected operations (critical operations). This also requires the action of the resource protection owner to approve and grant the requested access. Furthermore, it is also possible to use Azure AD Privileged Identity Management to manage just-in-time access in resource protection. Finally, it is allowed to create the resource guard in a subscription or tenant other than the one where the recovery services vault resides, to achieve an additional level of isolation.

Migrate

Azure Migrate

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.

Evaluation of Azure

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

Principles and techniques for governing and optimizing Azure costs

What are the main features and potential strengths of the cloud can in some circumstances hide pitfalls if not properly governed. Cost management is one of the fundamental disciplines in cloud governance. This article summarizes the principles and techniques that can be adopted to better manage and minimize the costs to be incurred for the resources created in the Azure environment..

The cloud cost optimization process is certainly a theme very much felt by several customers to the point that, for the sixth consecutive year, appears to be the leading cloud initiative according to the Flexera report:

Figure 1 – Top cloud initiatives for the year 2022

Principles to better manage costs

To better manage Azure costs, it is important to take into consideration the principles described in the following paragraphs.

Design

Only thanks to a structured design process, which includes a careful analysis of business requirements, you are able to customize the use of solutions in the cloud environment. It is therefore important to define the infrastructure to be implemented and how it is used, all through a design process to maximize the efficiency of resources located in the Azure environment.

Visibility

Having tools that allow you to have global visibility and allow you to receive notifications about Azure costs is an important aspect to consider.

Responsibility

A good practice is to attribute the costs of cloud resources, within its own business organization, to ensure that the people responsible are aware of the costs attributable to their working group. This allows you to fully understand the organization's Azure expenses. To do this, you should organize your Azure resources to maximize your understanding of cost allocation.

Optimization

Periodic review processes should act on Azure resources with the goal of reducing spending where possible. Thanks to the set of information available, it is possible to easily identify underutilized resources, remove waste and maximize cost savings opportunities.

Iteration

IT staff should be continuously involved in the iterative cost optimization processes of Azure resources, as it appears to be a key principle for a responsible governance process of the cloud environment.

Techniques to optimize costs

Regardless of the tools and solutions used, to optimize Azure costs you can adopt the following policies:

  • Turn off unused resources since the cost of the various Azure services is calculated based on the use of resources. For resources that do not need continuous execution and that allow, without loss of configurations or data, shutdown or suspension, you can use automation that, based on a default scheduling, optimizes the use and consequently the costs of the same.
  • Size resources appropriately consolidating workloads and addressing underutilized resources.
  • For resources in the Azure environment that are being used continuously, you can evaluate the activation of Reservations. The Azure Reservation allow you to achieve cost savings up to 72% compared to the pay-as-you-go price , simply committing to payment, for one or three years, for the use of Azure resources. The payment can take place in advance or on a monthly basis, at no additional cost. The purchase of these reservations can be made directly from the Azure portal and is contemplated for customers who have the following types of subscriptions: Enterprise agreement, Pay-As-You-Go and Cloud Solution Provider (CSP).  Azure Reserved Instances not only allow you to obtain an important benefit in terms of costs, but they also guarantee to reserve computational resources for their own workloads. One might think that the resources in Azure are almost infinite, but in reality this is not the case. You tend to always have the opportunity to draw on new resources, but in special situations (see for example in the initial period of COVID-19) these may be in short supply and, only in the face of having purchased resources in this mode, you can be sure that the resources necessary for the execution of your workloads are reserved.
  • To reduce Azure costs, it is also possible to evaluate the adoption of’Azure Hybrid Benefit. The savings is given from the fact that Microsoft allows you to pay only the cost of Azure infrastructure, while licensing for Windows Server or SQL Server is covered by an existing Software Assurance or subscription agreement. This benefit is applicable to both the Standard version and the Datacenter version of Windows Server .

Figure 2 – Cost structure for a Windows VM

The Azure Hybrid Benefit can also be used for Azure SQL Database, for SQL Servers installed on Azure virtual machines and for SQL Managed Instance. These benefits facilitate the migration to cloud solutions (180 days of dual use right) and help to maximize the investments already made in terms of SQL Server licenses. For more information on how you can use the Azure Hybrid Benefit for SQL Server you can view FAQ in this document. Furthermore, this advantage also applies to RedHat and SUSE Linux subscriptions.

The Azure Hybrid Benefit can be used in conjunction with the Azure Reserved VM Instance, allowing overall savings that can reach 80% (in the case of purchase of Azure Reserved Instance for 3 years).

Figure 3 – Percentages of savings by adopting RIs and Azure Hybrid Benefit

  • Evaluate the adoption of new serverless technologies and apply optimizations in the architectures by selecting the Azure service most suitable for the specific application.
  • Dynamically allocate and de-allocate resources to meet performance needs. In this case we are talking about “autoscaling” which is the process of dynamically allocating resources to meet performance requirements. With the increase in the volume of work, an application may require additional resources to maintain desired performance levels and meet SLAs (Service Level Agreement). From the moment the demand decreases and the additional resources are no longer needed, they can be deallocated to minimize costs. The autoscaling process takes advantage of the elasticity of cloud-hosted environments while reducing management overhead.
  • For test and development environments it is possible to evaluate the adoption of DevTest subscriptions, which allow you to get considerable discounts on Azure rates. These subscriptions can be activated as part of an Enterprise Agreement.

Conclusions

The use of a methodological approach to cloud cost management and the adoption of the right techniques are fundamental aspects that allow you to better address the cost governance challenge. Taking into consideration the principles and techniques given in this article, you have the ability to optimize expenses and maximize your investment in the cloud.