Category Archives: Azure Networking

Azure IaaS and Azure Stack: announcements and updates (September 2022 – Weeks: 37 and 38)

This series of blog posts includes the most important announcements and major updates regarding Azure infrastructure as a service (IaaS) and Azure Stack, officialized by Microsoft in the last two weeks.

Azure

Storage

Azure File Sync agent v15.1

Improvements and issues that are fixed:

  • Low disk space mode to prevent running out of disk space when using cloud tiering. Low disk space mode is designed to handle volumes with low free space more effectively. On a server endpoint with cloud tiering enabled, if the free space on the volume reaches below a threshold, Azure File Sync considers the volume to be in Low disk space mode. In this mode, files are tiered to the Azure file share more proactively and tiered files accessed by the user will not be persisted to the disk. To learn more, see the low disk space mode section in the Cloud tiering overview documentation.
  • Fixed a cloud tiering issue that caused high CPU usage after v15.0 agent is installed.
  • Miscellaneous reliability and telemetry improvements.

To obtain and install this update, configure your Azure File Sync agent to automatically update when a new version becomes available or manually download the update from the Microsoft Update Catalog.

More information about this release:

  • This release is available for Windows Server 2012 R2, Windows Server 2016, Windows Server 2019 and Windows Server 2022 installations.
  • The agent version for this release is 15.1.0.0.
  • Installation instructions are documented in KB5003883.

Standard network features for Azure NetApp Files

Standard network features for Azure NetApp Files volumes are available. Standard network features provide you with an enhanced, and consistent virtual networking experience along with security posture for Azure NetApp Files.

You are now able to choose between standard or basic network features while creating a new Azure NetApp Files volume:

  • Basic provide the current functionality, limited scale, and features.
  • Standard provides the following new features for Azure NetApp Files volumes or delegated subnets:
    – Increased IP limits for Vnets with Azure NetApp Files volumes. This is at par with VMs to enable you to provision Azure NetApp File volumes in your existing topologies or architectures. This eliminates the need to rearchitect network topologies to use Azure NetApp Files for workloads like VDI, AVD, or AKS.
    – Enhanced network security with support for network security groups (NSG) on the Azure NetApp Files delegated subnet.
    – Enhanced network control with support for user-defined routes (UDR) to and from Azure NetApp Files delegated subnets. You can now direct traffic to and from Azure NetApp Files via your choice of network virtual appliances for traffic inspection.
    – Connectivity over active or active VPN gateway setup for highly available connectivity to Azure NetApp Files from on-premises network.
    – ExpressRoute FastPath connectivity to Azure NetApp Files. FastPath improves the data path performance between on-premises network and Azure Virtual Network.

Immutable storage for Azure Data Lake Storage

Immutable storage for Azure Data Lake Storage is now generally available. Immutable storage provides the capability to store data in a write once, read many (WORM) state. Once data is written, the data becomes non-erasable and non-modifiable and you can set a retention period so that files can’t be deleted until after that period has elapsed. Additionally, legal holds can be placed on data to make that data non-erasable and non-modifiable until the hold is removed.

Improved Append Capability on Immutable Storage for Blob Storage

Immutable storage for Blob Storage on containers (which has been generally available since September 2018) now includes a new append capability. This capability, titled “Allow Protected Appends for Block and Append Blobs”, allows you to set up immutable policies for block and append blobs to keep already written data in a WORM state and continue to add new data. This capability is available for both legal holds and time-based retention policies.

Encrypt managed disks with cross-tenant customer-managed keys

Many service providers building Software as a Service (SaaS) offerings on Azure want to give their customers the option of managing their own encryption keys. Customers of service providers can now use cross-tenant customer-managed keys to manage encryption keys in their own Azure AD tenant and subscription using Azure Key Vault. As a result, they will have complete control of their customer-managed keys and their data.

Azure Dedicated Host support for Ultra Disk Storage

Virtual machines (VMs) running on Azure Dedicated Host support the use of standard and premium disks as data disks, and now there is also the support for ultra disks on dedicated host.

Azure unmanaged disks will be retired on 30 September 2025

Azure Managed Disks now have full capabilities of unmanaged disks and other advancements. Microsoft will begin deprecating unmanaged disks on September 30, 2022, and this functionality will be completely retired on September 30, 2025.

Encryption scopes on hierarchical namespace enabled storage accounts (preview)

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

Customer initiated storage account conversion (preview)

The self-service option to convert storage accounts from non-zonal redundancy (LRS/GRS) to zonal redundancy (ZRS/GZRS) is available. This allows you to initiate the conversion of storage accounts via the Azure portal without the necessity of creating a support ticket.

Networking

Resizing of peered virtual networks

Updating the address space for peered virtual networks now is now generally available. This feature allows you to update the address space or resize for a peered virtual network without removing the peering.

Improvements to Azure Web Application Firewall (WAF) custom rules

  • There are two improvements for WAF custom rules:
    Azure regional Web Application Firewall (WAF) with Application Gateway now supports creating custom rules using the operators “Any” and “GreaterThanOrEqual”. Custom rules allow you to create your own rules to customize how each request is evaluatedas it passes through the WAF engine.
  • Azure global Web Application Firewall (WAF) with Azure Front Door now supports custom geo-match filtering rules using socket addresses. Filtering by socket address allows you to restrict access to your web application by country/region using the source IP that the WAF sees.

Azure IaaS and Azure Stack: announcements and updates (September 2022 – Weeks: 35 and 36)

This series of blog posts includes the most important announcements and major updates regarding Azure infrastructure as a service (IaaS) and Azure Stack, officialized by Microsoft in the last two weeks.

Azure

Compute

Azure Virtual Machines with Ampere Altra Arm–based processors

Microsoft is announcing the general availability of the latest Azure Virtual Machines featuring the Ampere Altra Arm–based processor. The new virtual machines will be generally available on September 1, and customers can now launch them in 10 Azure regions and multiple availability zones around the world. In addition, the Arm-based virtual machines can be included in Kubernetes clusters managed using Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS). This ability has been in preview and will be generally available over the coming weeks in all the regions that offer the new virtual machines.

Storage

Prevent a lifecycle management policy from archiving recently rehydrated blobs

Azure Storage lifecycle management offers a rule-based policy that you can use to transition blob data to the appropriate access tiers or to expire data at the end of the data lifecycle. You can configure rules to move a blob to archive tier based on last modified condition. If you rehydrate a blob by changing its tier, this rule may move the blob back to the archive tier. This can happen if the last modified time is beyond the threshold set for the policy. Now you can add a new condition, daysAfterLastTierChangeGreaterThan, in your rules, to skip the archiving action if the blobs are newly rehydrated.

Encrypt storage account with cross-tenant customer-managed keys (preview)

The ability to encrypt storage account with customer-managed keys (CMK) using an Azure Key Vault hosted on a different Azure Active Directory tenant is available in preview. You can use this solution to encrypt your customers’ data using an encryption key managed by your customers.

Ephemeral OS disks supports host-based encryption using customer managed key

Ephemeral OS disk customers can choose encryption type between platform managed keys or customer managed keys for host-based encryption. The default is platform managed keys. This feature would enable our customers to meet organization’s compliance needs.

Resource instance rules for access to Azure Storage

Resource instance rules enable secure connectivity to a storage account by restricting access to specific resources of select Azure services.
Azure Storage provides a layered security model that enables you to secure and control access to your storage account. You can configure network access rules to limit access to your storage account from select virtual networks or IP address ranges. Some Azure services operate on multi-tenant infrastructure, so resources of these services cannot be isolated to a specific virtual network.
With resource instance rules, you can now configure your storage account to only allow access from specific resource instances of such Azure services. For example, Azure Synapse offers analytic capabilities that cannot be deployed into a virtual network. If your Synapse workspace uses such capabilities, you can configure a resource instance rule on a secured storage account to only allow traffic from that Synapse workspace.
Resource instances must be in the same tenant as your storage account, but they may belong to any resource group or subscription in the tenant.

Networking

ExpressRoute IPv6 Support for Global Reach

IPv6 support for Global Reach unlocks connectivity between on-premise networks, via the Microsoft backbone, for customers with dual-stack workloads. Establish Global Reach connections between ExpressRoute circuits using IPv4 subnets, IPv6 subnets, or both. This configuration can be done using Azure Portal, PowerShell, or CLI.

Azure IaaS and Azure Stack: announcements and updates (August 2022 – Weeks: 33 and 34)

This series of blog posts includes the most important announcements and major updates regarding Azure infrastructure as a service (IaaS) and Azure Stack, officialized by Microsoft in the last two weeks.

Azure

Compute

Azure VMware Solution now in Sweden Central

Azure VMware Solution empowers you to seamlessly extend or migrate your existing on-premises VMware workloads to Azure without the cost, effort, or risk of re-architecting applications or retooling operations. With this update Azure VMware Solution has now expanded availability to the Sweden Central Azure region.

Azure VMware Solution: public IP capability

Most customer applications running on Azure VMware Solution require internet access. These applications require both outbound and inbound internet connectivity. Azure VMware Solution Public IP is a simplified and scalable solution for running these applications. With this capability, Microsoft enables the following:

  • Direct inbound and outbound internet access for AVS to the NSX-T Edge.
  • The ability to receive up to 1000 or more Public IPs.
  • DDoS Security protection against network traffic in and out of the internet.
  • Enable support for VMware HCX (migration tool for VMwre VMs) over the public internet.

UAE North Availability Zones

Availability Zones in UAE North are made up of three unique physically separated locations or “zones” within a single region to bring higher availability and asynchronous replication across Azure regions for disaster recovery protection.

Networking

Private endpoint network security group support

Private endpoint support for network security groups (NSGs) is now generally available. This feature enhancement provides you with the ability to enable advanced security controls on traffic destined to a private endpoint. In order to leverage this feature, you will need to set a specific subnet level property, called PrivateEndpointNetworkPolicies, to enabled.

Private endpoint user-defined routes support

Private endpoint support for user-defined routes (UDRs) is now generally available. This feature enhancement will remove the need to create a /32 address prefix when defining custom routes. You will now have the ability to use a wider address prefix in the user defined route tables for traffic destined to a private endpoint (PE) by way of a network virtual appliance (NVA). In order to leverage this feature, you will need to set a specific subnet level property, called PrivateEndpointNetworkPolicies, to enabled on the subnet containing private endpoint resources.

Azure Stack

Azure Stack HCI

Azure Stack HCI 22H2: Network ATC improvements

Network ATC can simplify the deployment and on-going management of host networking in Azure Stack HCI. In this article are described all improvements to this component, released with Azure Stack HCI 22H2 update.

Software Defined Networking (SDN) extensions reach General Availability for WAC

SDN Infrastructure, Network Security Groups (NSGs), Logical networks, Virtual Networks, Load Balancers, and Gateways reach General Availability for Windows Admin Center (WAC). SDN Infrastructure’s “Network Controller” tab in WAC now displays information about cluster, server, and node certificates, complete with UI indications that certificate will expire soon.

Azure IaaS and Azure Stack: announcements and updates (August 2022 – Weeks: 31 and 32)

This series of blog posts includes the most important announcements and major updates regarding Azure infrastructure as a service (IaaS) and Azure Stack, officialized by Microsoft in the last two weeks.

Azure

Compute

Azure Dedicated Host restart (preview)

Azure Dedicated Host gives you more control over the hosts you deployed by giving you the option to restart any host. When undergoing a restart, the host and its associated VMs will restart while staying on the same underlying physical hardware. With this new capability, now in preview, you can take troubleshooting steps at the host level.

Azure Dedicated Host support for Ultra SSD (preview)

Currently, VMs running on Azure Dedicated Host support the use of Standard and Premium Azure disks as data disks. With this preview, Microsoft is introducing support for Azure Ultra Disks on Azure Dedicated Host. Azure Ultra disks are highly performant disks on Azure that offer high throughput (maximum of 4000 MBps per disk) and high IOPS (maximum of 160,00 IOPS per disk) depending on the disk size.
If you are running IaaS workloads that are data intensive and latency sensitive, such as Oracle DB, MySQL DB, other critical databases, and gaming applications, you will benefit from using Ultra disks as data disks on VMs hosted on Azure Dedicated Host.

Microsoft Azure available from new cloud region in Qatar

Microsoft is launching a new datacenter region in Qatar. The new datacenter region includes Azure Availability Zones, which offer you additional resiliency for your applications by designing the region with unique physical datacenter locations with independent power, network, and cooling for additional tolerance to datacenter failures.

Enforcement mode of machine configuration (previously guest configuration)

The enforcement mode of machine configuration (previously guest configuration) is now generally available. This represents the ApplyAndMonitor and ApplyAndAutocorrect auditing modes. The customer experience within Azure has not changed as a result of the renaming. Machine configuration continues to provide a native capability to audit or configure operating system settings as code, both for machines running in Azure and hybrid Azure Arc-enabled servers, directly per-machine or at-scale orchestrated through Azure Automanage, Microsoft Defender for Cloud, or Azure Policy.
You will now be able to:

  • Apply and monitor configurations: set the required configuration on your machines and remediate on demand.
  • Apply and autocorrect configurations: set the required configuration at scale and autoremediate in the event of a configuration drift.
  • Apply configurations to machines at management group level.
  • Set TLS 1.2 to machines through our newly released built-in policy.
  • Create, delete, and monitor the compliance of your configurations through the Azure portal.

Storage

Azure StorSimple 8000/1200 series will no longer be supported starting 31st December 2022

Support for the following StorSimple versions will end 31st December 2022:
• StorSimple 8000 series – 8100, 8600, 8010, 8020
• StorSimple 1200 Series
• StorSimple Data Manager
• StorSimple Snapshot Manager

The StorSimple service will reach end of life which means the following will no longer be available:
• All cloud management capability (e.g. viewing or updating settings related to volumes, shares, backups, backup policies or installing updates, etc.)
• Access to live data and backups.
• Access to customer support resources (phone, email, web)
• Hardware replacement parts and repair services for StorSimple 8000 series devices
• Software updates for StorSimple 8000 series and 1200 series devices

Microsoft has been expanding the portfolio of Azure Hybrid storage capabilities with new services for data tiering and cloud ingestion, providing more options to customers for storing data in Azure in native formats.

Networking

Azure Firewall Premium is now ICSA labs certified

Azure Firewall Premium SKU is a managed, cloud-based network security service that protects your Azure Virtual Network resources. It provides advanced threat protection that meets the needs of highly sensitive and regulated environments and includes Intrusion Prevention System (IPS) and TLS inspection capabilities.
The new Intrusion Prevention System (IPS) certification from ICSA Labs is an important IPS certification, is an addition to existing Firewall certification, from ICSA Labs.
ICSA Labs provides credible third-party testing and certification of security and health IT products, as well as network-connected devices. This includes certification of network intrusion prevention systems.
ICSA Labs Network Intrusion Prevention System (IPS) security certification test cycle includes Azure Firewall protection against exploits aimed at approximately 100 high severity vulnerabilities in enterprise software. Because real world attacks do not happen on a quiescent network, ICSA Labs tests with an appropriate level of background traffic using various mixes of enterprise network traffic. The test included evasion techniques, platform security of the product itself, logging, secure administration, and administrative functions.
Azure Firewall is the first cloud firewall service to attain the ICSA Labs Corporate Certification for both Firewall and IPS services.

Next hop IP support for Route Server

With next hop IP support, you can deploy network virtual appliances (NVAs) behind an Azure Internal Load Balancer (ILB) to acheive key active-passive connectivity scenarios and improve connectivity performance.

How to strengthen network protection with Defender for Cloud

In the networking field, Microsoft Azure provides a series of solutions, native to the platform, which allow to obtain a high degree of security if they are adopted in the appropriate way. An important added value to refine and strengthen the security posture of the network is given by Microsoft Defender for Cloud, as it allows you to contemplate, through specific features, also certain aspects of networking. This article explores how Microsoft Defender for Cloud lets you verify, achieve and maintain an Azure networking best practice configuration.

Defender for Cloud overview

The Microsoft Defender for Cloud solution provides a set of features that cover two important pillars of security for modern architectures that adopt cloud components: Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM) e Cloud workload protection (CWP).

Figure 1– The pillars of security covered by Microsoft Defender for Cloud

Within Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM) Defender for Cloud can provide the following features:

  • Visibility: to assess the current security situation.
  • Hardening Guide: to be able to improve security efficiently and effectively.

Thanks to a continuous assessment, Defender for Cloud is able to continuously discover new resources that are distributed and evaluate if they are configured according to security best practices. If not,, assets are flagged and you get a priority list of recommendations on what to fix to improve their security. This process occurs specifically also for network resources and the recommendations focus on various networking solutions such as: next generation firewall, Network Security Group e JIT VM access. A complete list of recommendations and related corrective actions, Defender for Cloud recommended for the network, you can consult it in this document.

Figure 2 - Examples of networking recommendations

As regards the scope Cloud Workload Protection (CWP), Defender for Cloud delivers security alerts based onMicrosoft Threat Intelligence. Furthermore, includes a wide range of advanced and intelligent protections for workloads, provided through specific Microsoft Defender plans for the different types of resources present in the subscriptions and in hybrid and multi-cloud environments.

Defender for Cloud specific networking features

What about networking, Defender for Cloud in addition to making a continuous assessment of resources and generating any recommendations, includes other specific features:

Figure 3 - Microsoft Defender for Cloud networking features

Adaptive network hardening

Network Security Groups (NSG) are the main tool to control network traffic in Azure, through which, through deny and permit rules, it is possible to filter the communications between different workloads attested on the Azure virtual networks. However, there may be situations in which the actual network traffic that crosses an NSG corresponds only to a subset of the rules that have been defined within the NSG itself. In these cases, to further improve the security posture it is possible to refine the rules present in the NSG, based on actual network traffic patterns. The functionality of adaptive network hardening of Defender for Cloud verifies just that and generates recommendations to further strengthen the rules present in the NSG. To achieve this result, a machine learning algorithm is used that takes into account the actual network traffic, of the present configuration, threat intelligence and other indicators of compromise.

Figure 4 - Recommendations relating to the adaptive network hardening functionality

Network Map

To continuously monitor the security status of the network, Defender for Cloud provides an interactive map that allows you to graphically view the network topology, including tips and recommendations for hardening network resources. Furthermore, using the map you can check the connections between virtual machines and subnets, until evaluating if each node is configured correctly from the point of view of the network. By checking how the nodes are connected, you can more easily identify and block unwanted connections that could potentially make it easier for an attacker to attack your network. For more information on this feature, you can consult the Microsoft's official documentation.

Figure 5 - Defender for Cloud generated network map

In order to take advantage of these specific features it is necessary to license the plan Defender for Servers Plan 2.

Conclusions

A winning strategy in Azure networking, capable of also supporting the Zero Trust model, it can be obtained by applying a mix-and-match of the different network security services to have protection on multiple levels. At the same time, it is very useful to be able to rely on the features of Defender for Cloud, also to contemplate the aspects related to networking, that through continuous assessment and in-depth visibility allow to obtain environments configured according to best practices even over time.

Azure IaaS and Azure Stack: announcements and updates (July 2022 – Weeks: 29 and 30)

This series of blog posts includes the most important announcements and major updates regarding Azure infrastructure as a service (IaaS) and Azure Stack, officialized by Microsoft in the last two weeks.

Azure

Compute

Virtual machine restore points

VM restore points provides you with a point in time snapshot of all the managed disks attached to your Virtual Machine. Customers and Azure partners who are looking to build business continuity and disaster recovery solutions can use VM restore points to capture app consistent and crash consistent backups natively on the Azure platform. This can then be used to restore disks and VMs during scenarios such as data loss, data corruption, or disaster recovery.

NVads A10 v5 Virtual Machines

NVads A10 v5 virtual machines (VMs) are now generally available in West Europe, South Central US, and West US3 regions. The NVads A10 v5 VM series enables a wide variety of graphics, video, and AI workloads, including virtual production and visual effects, engineering design and simulation, game development and streaming, virtual desktops/workstations and more. They feature NVIDIA A10 Tensor Core GPUs, up to 72 AMD EPYC™ 74F3-series vCPUs, and are designed to offer the right choice for any workload with optimum configurations for both single user and multi-session environments.

Azure confidential VMs (DCasv5/ECasv5-series VMs)

Azure confidential VMs are designed to offer a new, hardware-based TEE leveraging SEV-SNP, which hardens guest protections to deny the hypervisor and other host management code access to VM memory and state, protecting against operator access. Azure DCasv5/ECasv5 confidential VMs, utilizing 3rd Gen AMD EPYC processors with Secure Encrypted Virtualization-Secure Nested Paging (SEV-SNP) security features, are available.

Trusted Launch support for DCsv3 and DCdsv3 series Virtual Machines

Trusted Launch support for DCsv3 and DCdsv3 virtual machines is available. DCsv3 and DCdsv3 series virtual machines provides support for Intel® SGX. With all new hardware-based security paradigm is now just a few clicks away in Azure to deploy DCsv3 virtual machines with trusted launch feature.

Storage

Live resize for Premium SSD and Standard SSD Disk Storage

Resizing a disk on Azure can provide increased storage capacity and better performance for your applications. As part of our commitment to continuously add new capabilities to our Azure Disk Storage portfolio, live resize for Premium SSD and Standard SSD Disk Storage is now generally available. With live resize, you can dynamically increase the storage capacity of your Premium SSD and Standard SSD disks without causing any disruption to your applications. To reduce costs, you can start with smaller disks and gradually increase their storage capacity without experiencing any downtime.

Azure Premium SSD v2 Disk Storage (preview)

The next generation of Microsoft Azure Premium SSD Disk Storage is available in preview. This new disk offering provides the most advanced block storage solution designed for a broad range of input/output (IO)-intensive enterprise production workloads that require sub-millisecond disk latencies as well as high input/output operations per second (IOPS) and throughput at a low cost. With Premium SSD v2, you can now provision up to 64TiBs of storage capacity, 80,000 IOPS, and 1,200 MBPS throughput on a single disk. With best-in-class IOPS and bandwidth, Premium SSD v2 provides the most flexible and scalable general-purpose block storage in the cloud, enabling you to meet the ever-growing demands of your production workloads such as SQL Server, Oracle, MariaDB, SAP, Cassandra, Mongo DB, big data, analytics, gaming, on virtual machines, or stateful containers. Moreover, with Premium SSD v2, you can provision granular disk sizes, IOPS, and throughput independently based on your workload needs, providing you more flexibility in managing performance and costs.

Networking

TLS 1.3 support on Application Gateway (preview)

The new Predefined and CustomV2 policies on Application Gateway come with TLS v1.3 support. They provide improved security and performance benefits, fulfilling the needs of your enterprise security policies. You may use out-of-the-box predefined policies or configure a preferred cipher-suite list by using the CustomV2 policy.

Azure Stack

Azure Stack HCI

Azure Marketplace for Arc-enabled Azure Stack HCI (preview)

Azure Marketplace for Arc-enabled Azure Stack HCI makes it easy and convenient to download the latest fully patched image to your cluster with just a few clicks in the Azure Portal. This preview focuses on Windows 11 Enterprise multi-session, the image used by Azure Virtual Desktop, and Windows Server 2022 Datacenter Azure Edition, which enables hot-patching (reboot-less patching) for on-premises VMs. More images will follow in the coming months. This preview is available for all in-market Azure Stack HCI.

Remote support for Arc-enabled Azure Stack HCI (preview)

When opening a case, you can now grant Microsoft support engineers remote access to your cluster to gather logs of perform remediation steps themselves. This reduces the back-and-forth that’s typical with on-premises support. New PowerShell cmdlets and Windows Admin Center tools let you precisely control and audit the access that support engineers get, including time limits, allow-listing cmdlets, and comprehensive auditing that’s always on.

Arc-enabled guest VMs with extensions for Azure Stack HCI (preview)

When you deploy a new virtual machine through Azure Arc onto Azure Stack HCI, the guest operating system is now automatically enrolled as an Arc-enabled server instance. This means you can use popular VM extensions like Custom Script to perform configuration inside the VM (like installing an application) as part of VM deployment. To illustrate the usefulness of this capability, Microsoft is providing a sample custom script extension that enrolls a VM into an Azure Virtual Desktop session host pool, eliminating manual configuration of the guest agent as its own step. This preview is available for all in-market Arc-enabled Azure Stack HCI.

Azure Stack HCI version 22H2 (preview)

The operating system at the heart of Azure Stack HCI gets a major update with new features and enhancements every year. Next month, the first significant preview of version 22H2 will become available to clusters enrolled in the public Preview channel. Like version 21H2, the new version 22H2 will be available as a free, non-disruptive, over-the-air update for all subscribers when it reaches general availability later this year. Content-wise, the update is focused on fundamental improvements to the core hypervisor, storage, and networking.

Storage replication in stretch clusters is faster, and you can convert existing volumes from fixed provisioning to thin provisioning.

Network ATC has gained new abilities, including automatic IP addressing for storage networks, support for stretch clusters, and better network proxy support.

Hyper-V live migration is faster and more reliable for switchless 2-node and 3-node clusters.

And for new installations, version 22H2 starts with a stronger default security posture, including a stronger set of protocols and cipher suites, Secured-Core Server, Windows Defender application control, and other well-known security features enabled by default right from the start.

Azure Stack Hub

Azure Well-Architected Framework Assessments (preview)

Two pillars of the Well-Architected Framework are available in Preview for Azure Stack Hub on the Microsoft Assessment Platform: Reliability and Operational Excellence. If you are using Azure Stack Hub to deploy and operate workloads for key business systems, it is now possible to answers questions for these pillars within the assessments platform. After completing the assessments, you will be provided with a maturity or risk score, together with prescriptive guidance and knowledge links that suggest possible improvements you could make to your architecture design and score.

Azure IaaS and Azure Stack: announcements and updates (July 2022 – Weeks: 27 and 28)

This series of blog posts includes the most important announcements and major updates regarding Azure infrastructure as a service (IaaS) and Azure Stack, officialized by Microsoft in the last two weeks.

Azure

Storage

Ephemeral OS disk support for confidential virtual machines (preview)

The support to create confidential VMs using Ephemeral OS disks is available. This enables customers using stateless workloads to benefit from the trusted execution environments (TEEs). Trusted execution environments protect data being processed from access outside the trusted execution environments.

Azure Archive Storage now available in South Africa North

Azure Archive Storage provides a secure, low-cost means for retaining rarely accessed data including backup and archival storage. Now, Azure Archive Storage is available in South Africa North.

Azure Active Directory authentication for exporting and importing Managed Disks (preview)

Azure already supports disk import and export locking only from a trusted Azure Virtual Network (VNET) using Azure Private Link. For greater security, Microsoft is launching the integration with Azure Active Directory (AD) to export and import data to Azure Managed Disks. This feature enables the system to validate the identity of the requesting user in Azure AD and verify that the user has the required permissions to export and import that disk.

Networking

Azure Gateway Load Balancer

Gateway Load Balancer is a fully managed service enabling you to deploy, scale, and enhance the availability of third party network virtual appliances (NVAs) in Azure. You can add your favorite third-party appliance whether it is a firewall, inline DDoS appliance, deep packet inspection system, or even your own custom appliance into the network path transparently.
With Gateway Load Balancer, you can easily add or remove advanced network functionality without additional management overhead. It provides bump-in-the-wire technology that ensures all traffic heading to a public endpoint is sent to an appliance before it reaches an application. Gateway Load Balancer supports flow symmetry and source IP preservation. As a result, packets traverse the same network path in both directions, enabling stateful appliances, and your traffic remains transparent to both your appliances and your application.
Gateway Load Balancer is now generally available in all public regions, Azure China cloud regions, and Azure Government cloud regions.

Azure IaaS and Azure Stack: announcements and updates (July 2022 – Weeks: 25 and 26)

This series of blog posts includes the most important announcements and major updates regarding Azure infrastructure as a service (IaaS) and Azure Stack, officialized by Microsoft in the last two weeks.

Azure

Storage

Create an additional 5000 Azure Storage accounts within your subscription (preview)

Azure Storage is announcing public preview of the ability to create an additional 5000 Azure Storage accounts per subscription per region. This is a 20 times increase from the current limit of 250 and helps you create several hundred or thousand storage accounts to address your storage needs within a single subscription, instead of creating additional subscriptions.

Azure Stack

Azure Stack HCI

Network ATC is now publicly available with Azure Stack HCI 21H2

If you’ve deployed Azure Stack HCI previously, you know that network deployment can pose a significant challenge. You might be asking yourself:

  • How do I configure or optimize my adapter?
  • Did I configure the virtual switch, VMMQ, RDMA, etc. correctly?
  • Are all nodes in the cluster the same?
  • Are we following the best practice deployment models?
  • (And if something goes wrong) What changed!?

So, what does Network ATC actually set out to solve? Network ATC can help:

  • Reduce host networking deployment time, complexity, and errors
  • Deploy the latest Microsoft validated and supported best practices
  • Ensure configuration consistency across the cluster
  • Eliminate configuration drift

Network ATC does this through some new concepts, namely “intent-based” deployment. If you tell Network ATC how you want to use an adapter, it will translate, deploy, and manage the needed configuration across all nodes in the cluster.

Azure IaaS and Azure Stack: announcements and updates (June 2022 – Weeks: 23 and 24)

This series of blog posts includes the most important announcements and major updates regarding Azure infrastructure as a service (IaaS) and Azure Stack, officialized by Microsoft in the last two weeks.

Azure

Compute

Trusted launch support for virtual machines using Ephemeral OS disks

Trusted launch virtual machine (VM) support for VMs using Ephemeral OS disks improves the security of generation 2 VMs in Azure.

Storage

Azure NetApp Files datastores for Azure VMware Solution (preview)

The public preview of Azure NetApp Files datastores for Azure VMware Solution (AVS) is available. This new integration between Azure VMware Solution and Azure NetApp Files will enable you to create datastores via the Azure VMware Solution resource provider with Azure NetApp Files NFS volumes and mount the datastores on your private cloud clusters of choice. Along with the integration of Azure disk pools for Azure VMware Solution, this will provide more choice to scale storage needs independently of compute resources. For your storage-intensive workloads running on Azure VMware Solution, the integration with Azure NetApp Files helps to easily scale storage capacity beyond the limits of the local instance storage for AVS provided by vSAN and lower your overall total cost of ownership for storage-intensive workloads.

Azure NetApp Files: feature general availability and feature expansion of regional availability

To meet the demanding requirements of enterprise mission-critical workloads, new features are constantly added to Azure NetApp Files and previously released preview features are moved into general availability. The following capabilities are recently generally available and no longer need registration for use: AES encryption for AD authentication, Backup policy users, Administrators privilege users, and Dynamic change of service level. Additionally, feature regional coverage continues to expand for Azure NetApp Files cross-region replication. The following are the cross-region replication region pair additions: Brazil South and South Central US, West US 3 and East US, Australia Central and Australia Central 2, France Central and West Europe. Also, regional coverage has expanded for Azure NetApp Files for standard network features. The following regions are standard network feature additions: Australia Central, Australia Central 2, Australia Southeast, East US 2, France Central, Germany West Central, North Europe, West Europe, West US 2, and UK South.

Networking

Azure Firewall updates

The following updates are available for Azure Firewall:

  • Intrusion Detection and Prevention System (IDPS) signatures lookup
  • TLS inspection (TLSi) Certification Auto-Generation
  • Web categories lookup
  • Structured Firewall Logs
  • IDPS Private IP ranges (preview)

Azure WAF policy and DDoS management in Azure Firewall Manager

Azure Firewall Manager now supports managing DDoS Protection Plans for virtual networks and Azure Web Application Firewall (Azure WAF) policies for application delivery platforms: Azure Front Door and Azure Application Gateway.

Azure Virtual Network Manager in nine new regions (preview)

Azure Virtual Network Manager helps you create your desired topologies like hub and spoke and mesh with just a few clicks. The security admin rules feature allows you to enforce security policies throughout your organization. You can create an Azure Virtual Network Manager instance in nine more regions and manage your virtual networks at scale across regions, subscriptions, management groups, and tenants globally from a single pane of glass.

Private link support in Azure Application Gateway (preview)

With private link support, incoming traffic to an Azure Application Gateway frontend can be secured to clients running in another Azure Virtual Network, Azure subscription, or Azure subscription linked to a different Azure Active Directory tenant through Azure Private Link. Traffic between private endpoints in your virtual network and your Application Gateway will traverse a secure and private connection.

ExpressRoute IPv6 Support for Global Reach (preview)

IPv6 support for Global Reach unlocks connectivity between on-premise networks, via the Microsoft backbone, for customers with dual-stack workloads. Establish Global Reach connections between ExpressRoute circuits using IPv4 subnets, IPv6 subnets, or both. This configuration can be done using Azure Portal, PowerShell, or CLI.

Network Watcher packet capture support for virtual machine scale sets (preview)

Azure Network Watcher packet capture announces support for virtual machines scale sets. This is as an out of the box, on-demand capability, enabling faster diagnostics and troubleshooting of networking issues.

Connection Monitor Support for virtual machine scale sets

Azure Network Watcher Connection Monitor announces support for virtual machine scale sets which enables faster performance monitoring and network troubleshooting through connectivity checks.

ExpressRoute Direct and Circuit in different subscriptions (preview)

Generate an authorization for the ExpressRoute Direct resource and redeem the authorization to create an ExpressRoute Circuit in a different subscription and/or Azure Active Directory Tenant. This feature is currently available in public preview.

Azure IaaS and Azure Stack: announcements and updates (June 2022 – Weeks: 21 and 22)

This series of blog posts includes the most important announcements and major updates regarding Azure infrastructure as a service (IaaS) and Azure Stack, officialized by Microsoft in the last two weeks.

Azure

Compute

DCsv3 and DCdsv3 series Virtual Machines

Confidential computing DCsv3 and DCdsv3-series virtual machines (VMs) are generally available.

Switzerland North Availability Zones

Availability Zones in Switzerland North are made up of three unique, physically separated, locations or “zones” within a single region which bring higher availability and asynchronous replication across Azure regions for disaster recovery protection. Availability Zones give you additional options for high availability for your most demanding applications and services as well as confidence and protection from potential hardware and software failures.

Azure Ebsv5 now available in 13 additional regions

Azure Virtual Machines Ebsv5 and Ebdsv5 are now available in 13 additional regions: South Africa North, France Central, Central India, Korea Central, Germany West Central, UK West, South India, Canada East, Australia Central, Japan West, Switzerland North, Norway East and UAE North.

Azure NC A100 v4 virtual machines for AI

Azure NC A100 v4 series virtual machines (VMs) are now generally available in US East 2, US East, Southeast Asia, and West Europe. These VMs, powered by NVIDIA A100 80GB Tensor Core PCIe GPUs and 3rd Gen AMD EPYC™ Milan processors, improve the performance and cost-effectiveness of a variety of GPU performance-bound real world AI training and inferencing workloads.

Storage

Storage optimized Azure VMs deliver higher performance for data analytics

Microsoft is announcing the general availability of new storage optimized Azure Virtual Machines. The new Lasv3 and Lsv3 VM series have been engineered to run workloads that require high throughput and high IOPS, including big data applications, SQL and NoSQL databases, distributed file systems, data analytics engines, and more.

Networking

Azure Bastion IP based connection

Azure Bastion now supports connectivity to Azure virtual machines or on-premises resources via specified IP address. When IP based connection feature is enabled, Azure Bastion can be used to RDP/SSH into an on-premises resource over ExpressRoute and Site-to-Site VPN.

Manage Azure Web Application Firewall policies in Azure Firewall Manager (preview)

Azure Firewall Manager now supports Azure Web Application Firewall (Azure WAF) policies for application delivery platforms, Azure Front Door, and Azure Application Gateway.

Enhanced IPv6 functionality for MultiValue profiles in Azure Traffic Manager

Azure Traffic Manager now enables you to specify minimum children property separately for IPv4 and IPv6 endpoints for MultiValue profiles.

Azure Private Link support in Azure API Management

With Azure Private Link support in Azure API Management, you can now integrate clients in a virtual network privately.

Azure Stack

Azure Stack HCI single-node

At Build 2022, Microsoft announces the new single-node offering that provides additional options for business scenarios with different requirements. The new single-node Azure Stack HCI fulfills growing hybrid infrastructure needs in remote locations while maintaining the innovation of native integration with Azure Arc. Specifically, this new configuration offers flexibility to deploy the stack in smaller spaces and with less processing needs, optimizing resources while still delivering quality and consistency.

Additional benefits of Azure Stack HCI single-node include:

  • Smaller Azure Stack HCI solutions for environments with physical space constraints or that don’t require built-in resiliency, like retail stores and branch offices.
  • A smaller footprint reduces hardware and operational costs.
  • Solutions can be built to scale, ranging from single-node up to 16 nodes if needed.