Category Archives: Cloud

Azure Management services: What's new in June 2020

In June have been announced, by Microsoft, a considerable number of news regarding Azure management services. Our community, through these articles released monthly, want to provide an 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, 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

This month was released a new version of the agent of Log Analytics for Linux systems. In addition to fixing a number of bugs, the following new features have been introduced:

  • Support for Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8 (Note: specific requirements regarding python)
  • Azure Arc support for servers
  • FIPS compliance
  • Extension package signed protected
  • Ingestion rate limiting to avoid service degradation in the event of extremely high data volume by an agent
  • Deprecating 32-bit support (1.12.15-0 is the latest release that supports 32-bit)
  • New component versions auoms and OMI

Azure Monitor for VMs on Arc Enabled servers (preview)

Azure Monitor for VM enables you to have a monitor system that can provide a global view of your systems, providing information about virtual machine performance and various dependencies. This service is available for VMs in Azure, Azure scale sets and on-premises VMs. Azure Monitor can now leverage Azure Arc to reach on-premises workloads. Although today it is possible to monitor non-Azure VMs even without Azure Arc, using this integration automatically detects and manages agents on VMs. Once integrated, Azure Arc-enabled servers will fit perfectly into existing Azure portal views along with virtual machines in Azure and Azure scale sets.

Azure Monitor for Containers for Azure Arc (preview)

Azure Monitor for Containers extended monitor support for Kubernetes clusters hosted on Azure Arc (currently in preview), offering functionality similar to the AKS service monitor (Azure Kubernetes).

Key Vault Monitor Support (preview)

Azure Monitor introduces the ability to monitor Azure Key Vault and have a unified view with performance, requests, errors and latency of this component.

Azure Load Balancer Monitor using Azure Monitor for Networks

Azure Monitor for Networks now allows you to monitor health and perform an analysis of Azure Load Balancer configuration. Inside the solution there are topological maps for all Load Balancer configurations and integrity dashboards for standard Load Balancers, suitably configured for the collection of metrics.
This new feature will extend the capabilities of Azure networking monitors. The solution therefore becomes more complete and allows for rapid troubleshooting.

Configure

Azure Automation

Updated DNS records for Azure Automation

To support new Azure Automation features, such as Azure private links, the related URLs have been updated. Instead of region-specific URLs, now the URLs are account-specific. Old Azure Automation URLs still remain functional to provide time for migration. For more information about this, please refer to this document.

Protect

Azure Backup

Update Rollup Released 1 for Microsoft Azure Backup Server (MABS) v3

For Azure Backup Server v3 has been released the’Update Rollup 3, which introduces the following major news:

  • Offline Backup using Azure Data Box (in private preview): thanks to the integration with Microsoft Azure Data Box, customers using MABS are able to face the challenge of moving tera bytes of backup data from on-premises storage to Azure. The user experience for this feature is consistent with DPM 2019 and the MARS agent.
  • Protection for Azure VMware Solution. Microsoft recently announced the Azure VMware solution (AVS) which allows customers to fully extend or migrate on-premises VMware systems to Azure. With this update, you can use MABS to protect virtual machines deployed with Azure's VMware solution.
  • Faster backups with tiered storage using SSD. MABS v3 UR1 introduces improvements to the backup process, adopting tiered storage, allows you to make faster backups until 50-70%. Using a small percentage (4% overall storage) SSD storage as a tiered volume in combination with HDD disks,you get much better performance.
  • Improved performance in backing up VMware systems. MABS helps protect VMware virtual machines. With this upgrade, all VMWare virtual machine backup jobs, within a single protection group, are now being run in parallel, leading to faster VMs backup up to 25%. In addition, this update also offers the ability to exclude a specific VMware VM disk from backups.
  • Support for ReFS Volume Protection. With this update, you can use MABS to protect ReFS volumes (with deduplication enabled) workloads (Windows Server, SQL Server, Exchange and SharePoint) distributed over ReFS volumes.
  • Support for an additional level of authentication in deleting online backups. MABS v3 UR1 prompts you to enter a security PIN when performing protection stop operations with data deletion.
  • Deprecated the protection agent 32 bit. With the release of UR1 for MABS v3, support for protecting workloads to 32 bit is deprecated. After you install UR1, you will not be able to protect any data source to 32 bit. If there is a protection agent to 32 bit, after installing UR1, this is disabled and any scheduled backups will fail.

Azure Site Recovery

New Update Rollup

For Azure Site Recovery was released theUpdate Rollup 46 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

Evaluate imported servers in Azure Migrate

Azure Migrate introduces the ability to assess imported servers using a CSV file, without the need to deploy an appliance. This system is useful if you want to do a quick pre-evaluation or if you are waiting to deploy the Azure Migrate appliance. You can also perform a performance-based assessment by specifying the system usage values in the CSV file.

Azure Migrate server assessment tool: support for migrating to Azure VMware Solution (Preview)

Azure Migrate has introduced support to manage migration to Azure VMware Solution (Preview), providing an additional option to plan your migration to Azure. Using Azure Migrate server assessment tool, it is possible to analyze on-premises workloads to migrate to Azure's VMware solution, assessing its suitability, planning costs, calculating scaling based on performance and considering application dependencies.

Multiple credential support for physical server discovery (preview)

Azure Migrate included the ability to specify multiple credentials for physical server discovery and assessment. In addition, the number of servers that can be found for each individual appliance has been increased by 250 to 1.000. The appliance for physical server can be installed on an existing server and can also be used for the discovery and assessment of virtual machines if you do not have access to the hypervisor, as well as for virtual machines in other cloud environments.

Evaluation of Azure

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

Azure IaaS and Azure Stack: announcements and updates (June 2020 – 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

Compute

New general purpose and memory-optimized Azure Virtual Machines with Intel

New general purpose and memory-optimized Azure Virtual Machines based on the 2nd generation Intel Xeon Platinum 8272CL (Cascade Lake) are available.

With this announcement, Microsoft is introducing two new Azure Virtual Machines families, one of which represents a brand-new product category in the portfolio:

  • The Azure Ddv4 and Ddsv4 and Edv4 and Edsv4 virtual machines, which include a local data temporary disk (now generally available)
  • The Azure Dv4 and Dsv4 and Ev4 and Esv4 virtual machines, a new category of virtual machines, which rely on remote disks and do not provide temporary local storage (now in preview).

The new virtual machine (VM) sizes deliver up to roughly 20 percent CPU performance improvement compared to their predecessors, the Dv3 and Ev3 VM families.

Azure Virtual Machines DCsv2-series is now available in new regions

Confidential computing DCsv2-series virtual machines (VMs) are now available in East US, Canada Central, UK South, and West Europe.

Extended term reservation for the Azure HBv2 Virtual Machine

Announcing the availability of the 5-year reservation for the Azure HBv2 Virtual Machine. The extended term reservation provides significant cost discount compared to pay-as-you-go rates. The extended term reservation provides continuous access to HBv2 resources for all supported Azure regions.

Storage

Azure Storage account failover

Customer-initiated Storage account failover is now generally available, allowing you to determine when to initiate a failover instead of waiting for Microsoft to do so. When you perform a failover, the secondary replica of the Storage account becomes the new primary, and the DNS records for all Storage service endpoints—blob, file, queue, and table—are updated to point to this new primary. Once the failover is complete, clients will automatically begin reading from the Storage account and writing data to it in the new primary region, with no code changes. Customer initiated failover is available for GRS, RA-GRS, GZRS, and RA-GZRS accounts.

Azure geo-zone-redundant storage is now generally available

Geo-zone-redundant storage (GZRS) and read-access geo-zone-redundant storage (RA-GZRS) are now generally available, offering intra-regional and inter-regional high availability and disaster protection for your applications. GZRS writes three copies of your data synchronously across multiple Azure Availability zones, similar to zone-redundant storage (ZRS), providing you continued read and write access even if a datacenter or availability zone is unavailable. In addition, GZRS asynchronously replicates your data to the secondary geo-pair region to protect against regional unavailability. RA-GZRS exposes a read endpoint on this secondary replica allowing you to read data in the event of primary region unavailability.

Ephemeral OS disks for Azure Virtual Machines (VMs) now support additional VM sizes (preview)

You now have the ability to store ephemeral OS disks on the VM temp or resource disk in addition to the VM cache (in preview). This enables their use with VMs that don’t have a cache, or have insufficient cache, but do have a temp or resource disk to store the ephemeral OS disk such as Dav3, Dav4, Eav4, and Eav3.

Networking

Web Application Firewall for Azure Front Door service logging enhancements

Azure Web Application Firewall for Azure Front Door Service now has a match details field in the logs to provide insights on why a request triggered a Web Application Firewall rule. In addition, you can facilitate further analysis by embedding the unique reference string in a Web Application Firewall custom response message to link the request to a specific entry in the Azure Front Door Service and Web Application Firewall logs.

Rules Engine for Azure Front Door and Azure CDN

The Rules Engine feature on both Azure Front Door and Azure Content Delivery Network (CDN) is now generally available. Rules Engine places the specific routing needs of your customers at the forefront of Azure’s global application delivery services, giving you more control in how you define and enforce what content gets served from where.

Azure IaaS and Azure Stack: announcements and updates (June 2020 – 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

New Azure Virtual Machines with high-performance local SSD are generally available

The new Dd v4-series and Ed v4-series series Azure Virtual Machines provide up to 64 vCPUs and are based on the Intel® Xeon® Platinum 8272CL processor. This custom processor runs at a base speed of 2.5 Ghz and can achieve up to 3.4 Ghz all core turbo frequency. The Dd v4-series and Dds v4 virtual machine (VM) sizes are well suited for applications that benefit from low latency, high-speed local storage (up to 2,400 GiB.) The Edv4-series and Edsv4-series VM sizes are ideal for various memory-intensive enterprise applications and feature up to 504 GiB of RAM, in addition to high-performance local SSD storage (up to 2,400 GiB.)

Azure Dedicated Hosts now support additional Azure Virtual Machines

Deploy M-series, NV v3-series and NV v4-series Azure Virtual Machines on Azure Dedicated Hosts. This will expand the range of workloads you can run on Dedicated Hosts to include memory-intensive and graphics-intensive applications.

Storage

Azure File Sync agent v10.1

The Azure File Sync agent v10.1 update is being flighted to servers which are configured to automatically update when a new version becomes available.

Improvements and issues that are fixed:

  • Azure private endpoint support
  • Files Synced metric will now display progress while a large sync is running, rather than at the end.
  • Miscellaneous reliability improvements for agent installation, cloud tiering, sync and telemetry.

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 update rollup:

  • This update is available for Windows Server 2012 R2, Windows Server 2016 and Windows Server 2019 installations that have Azure File Sync agent version 4.0.1.0 or later installed.
  • The agent version of this update rollup is 10.1.0.0.
  • A restart may be required if files are in use during the update rollup installation.
  • Installation instructions are documented in KB4522411.

Networking

Azure App Service regional virtual network integration for Linux apps is available

The regional virtual network integration feature of Azure App Service, which enables access to resources in your virtual network across service endpoints or ExpressRoute connections, is now available in public regions.

Azure IaaS and Azure Stack: announcements and updates (May 2020 – 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

Azure DevTest Labs updates

New updates are available in Azure DevTest Labs:

  • Azure DevTest Labs is now available in the Switzerland North and Switzerland West regions. The support includes full Azure DevTest Labs capabilities.
  • Azure DevTest Labs environments are now available in Azure Government.

Storage

Object replication public preview for Azure Blob storage

Object replication is a new capability for block blobs that lets you replicate your data from your blob container in one storage account to another anywhere in Azure. Object replication unblocks a new set of common replication scenarios:

  • Minimize latency – have your users consume the data locally rather than issuing cross-region read requests.
  • Increase efficiency – have your compute clusters process the same set of objects locally in different regions.
  • Optimize data distribution – have your data consolidated in a single location for processing/analytics and then distribute only resulting dashboards to your offices worldwide.
  • Minimize cost – tier down your data to Archive upon replication completion using lifecycle management policies to minimize the cost.
Azure File Sync: new version

Improvements and issues that are fixed:

  • Storage Sync Agent (FileSyncSvc) crashes frequently after installing the Azure File Sync v10 agent.

More information about this release:

  • This update is available for Windows Server 2012 R2, Windows Server 2016 and Windows Server 2019 installations that have Azure File Sync agent version 4.0.1.0 or later installed.
  • The agent version of this update rollup is 10.0.2.0.
  • A restart is required for servers that have an existing Azure File Sync agent installation.
  • Installation instructions are documented in KB4522412.

Azure Ultra Disk Storage available in more regions

Azure Ultra Disks offers high throughput, high IOPS, and consistent low latency disk storage for Azure Virtual Machines (VMs). Azure Ultra Disk Storage is now available in Central US, West US, South Central US, US Gov Virginia, France Central, and Japan East.

Azure server-side encryption with customer-managed keys available for Azure Ultra Disks

Azure Ultra Disk customers already benefit from server-side encription (SSE) with platform-managed keys for Azure Managed Disks enabled by default. SSE with customer-managed keys (CMK) improves on platform-managed keys by giving you control of the encryption keys to meet your compliance needs. SSE with CMK is integrated with Azure Key Vault, which provides highly available and scalable secure storage for your keys backed by hardware security modules (HSM). You can either bring your own keys (BYOK) to your key vault or generate new keys in the Key Vault.

Networking

Azure Firewall updates

New key features are now available in Azure Firewall:

  • Forced tunneling: configure a default route (0.0.0.0/0) on the AzureFirewallSubnet or publish a default route to the firewall over BGP, to send all traffic to on-premises or nearby NVA.
  • SQL FQDN filtering: filter outbound SQL traffic using application rules. Support is for SQL proxy mode only. Redirect mode support is tentatively planned for later in 2020.
  • The limit for Azure DevTest Labs from 100 to 250 for both DNAT and SNAT.

These features are included in the Azure Firewall standard SKU, so there is no change in the price.

Network service tiers with new Routing Preference option in preview
Using the new “Routing Preference” option in Azure, customers can choose how their traffic is routed between Azure and the internet. Prior to making “routing preferences” customer selectable, Azure exclusively kept and optimized customer traffic over Azure’s global network. The introduction of this new competitive egress tier adds a secondary option for solutions that do not require the premium predictability and performance of Microsoft’s global network. Instead it will allow customers to further architect their traffic to their needs and allow routing to the public internet as quickly as possible. Customers will have the option to select routing preference while creating a public IP address for an IaaS resource such as a Virtual Machine, Virtual Machine Scale Set or internet-facing Load Balancer, and for their Azure storage account.

Azure Peering Service is generally available

Peering Service is a networking capability that enhances customer connectivity to Microsoft cloud services such as Office 365, Dynamics 365, software as a service (SaaS) services, Azure, or any Microsoft services accessible via the public internet. Microsoft has partnered with internet service providers (ISPs), internet exchange partners (IXPs), and software-defined cloud interconnect (SDCI) providers worldwide to provide reliable and high-performing public connectivity with optimal routing from the customer to the Microsoft network.

Enterprises looking for internet-first access to the cloud, or considering SD-WAN architecture, or with high usage of Microsoft SaaS services need robust and high-performing internet connectivity. Customers can work with their Telco/carrier to take advantage of Peering Service, which is now generally available.

Key customer features include:

  • Best public routing (optimum route hops/AS hops) over the internet to Microsoft cloud services for optimal performance and reliability.
  • Ability to select the preferred service provider to connect to the Microsoft cloud.
  • Traffic insights such as latency reporting and prefix monitoring.
  • Route analytics and statistics: Events for (BGP) route anomalies (leak or hijack detection) and suboptimal routing.

Azure Stack

Azure Stack expands solutions and partner ecosystem
A host of new Azure Stack portfolio partners are accelerating time to value for hybrid customers today:

  • The Aware Group, which builds IoT Edge modules that use AI to detect anomalies and perform noise classification, is now delivering modules and
    solutions tailored to the industry.
  • Avanade is offering customers a fully managed Azure Stack Hub leveraging HPE’s Edgeline EL8000, a small form factor that does not require external cooling, making it ideal for locations like retail or manufacturing, where a datacenter may not be available on site.
  • CloudAssert is providing an enterprise cloud-based solution streamlining the management and operations of multiple Azure Stack Hub deployments, including resources located on-premises and public clouds, with a single pane of glass.
  • Microsoft is also launching the open-source Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) server available now for Azure Stack Hub and Azure Stack Edge. Customers can now quickly connect existing data sources such as electronic health record systems or research databases at the edge while addressing compliance and regulatory requirements.
  • Finally, now available on GitHub, manufacturing customers can get started with an AI solution at the edge that combines the power of Azure Stack Hub and Azure Stack Edge with computer vision to modernize a factory floor.

Azure Stack Hub

Azure Stack Hub updates will simplify fleet and resource management and enable graphic-heavy scenarios
New Azure Stack Hub updates will simplify fleet and resource management, and enable accelerated machine learning scenarios, virtual desktop infrastructure and other graphics-heavy scenarios with GPUs:

  • Azure Stack Hub Fleet Management (private preview): Azure Stack Hub fleet management gives customers a single view and management method from Azure for all their Azure Stack Hub deployments.
  • ManagedIQ (CloudForms) (public preview): ManagedIQ, formerly known as CloudForms, now allows cloud operators to manage their resources on Azure Stack Hub and use RedHat technical tooling to manage the Azure Stack Hub. ManagedIQ is a supported platform from IBM and RedHat.
  • AKS Resource Provider on Azure Stack (private preview): The Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS) Resource Provider (RP) on Azure Stack Hub is a fully managed service for easily managing containerized applications for customers to automatically create and manage Kubernetes clusters on Azure
    Stack Hub.
  • GPU Partitioning using AMD GPUs (private preview): Graphics processing
    unit (GPU) partitioning for visualization using AMD GPUs on Azure Stack
    Hub is now available, enabling virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) and other
    graphics-heavy scenarios on Azure Stack Hub.

Support for Windows containers Azure Container Networking Interface on Azure Stack Hub coming soon

Windows containers and Azure Container Networking Interface in Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS) engine deployed Kubernetes clusters will soon be in private preview.
The Azure Container Networking Interface plug-in lets you deploy and manage your own Kubernetes clusters with native Azure networking capability by default. This release, which will come as an update to the Azure Kubernetes Service engine, expands the capabilities of Kubernetes clusters on Azure Stack Hub.

Azure Stack Hub supports cross-platform compatibility on PowerShell

Azure Stack Hub now supports cross-platform compatibility on PowerShell and ensures hybrid consistency with Azure. Azure Stack Hub will utilize Az modules with new resource providers from Azure IoT Hub, Azure Stack Edge, and EventHub. This enables full cross-compatibility with Azure and Azure Stack Hub using PowerShell and PowerShell Core. Install PowerShell and connect to Azure Stack Hub on MacOs. This is available through the Az PowerShell installer.

Azure Management services: What's new in May 2020

To stay constantly updated on news regarding Azure management services, our community releases this monthly summary, allowing you to have an overview of the main new features of the month. In this article you will find the news, presented in a synthetic way and accompanied with the necessary references to be able to conduct further studies.

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 Log Analytics agent has been released this month for Linux systems. The main innovations introduced are:

  • Stability and reliability improvements.
  • Improved support for Azure Arc for Server.
  • FIPS Compliance.
  • RHEL support 8.

SHA-2 signing for the Log Analytics agent

The Log Analytics agent for Windows will start enforcing SHA-2 signings from 17 August 2020, postponing the date previously set to 18 may 2020. This change requires action if you are running the agent on a legacy version of the operating system (Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2, or Windows Server 2008) . Customers who are in this condition should apply the latest updates and patches on these operating systems before 17 August 2020, otherwise their agents will stop sending data to Log Analytics workspaces. The following Azure services will be affected by this change: Azure Monitor, Azure Automation, Azure Update Management, Azure Change Tracking, Azure Security Center, Azure Sentinel, Windows Defender ATP.

Feature extensions of Azure Monitor

The following enhancements have been made in Azure Monitor that expand its functionality and make it an increasingly complete solution:

  • Azure Monitor availability for Azure Storage and Azure Monitor for Azure Cosmos DB.
  • Azure Monitor preview for Azure Key Vault and Azure Monitor for Redis Cache.
  • Preview of Azure Monitor Application Insights in Azure Monitor Logs workspaces.
  • Capacity reservation and CMK encryption with Azure Monitor Logs clusters dedicated to large-scale deployments.

Azure Private Link Availability for Azure Monitor
The Azure Private Link feature is now also available for Azure Monitor and allows you to have the following features:

  • Private connectivity to Azure Monitor Logs workspaces and to Azure Application Insights.
  • Exfiltration data protection with granular access to specific resources.
  • Protecting resources from access from the public network.

At the moment you need to make a request explicitly to access these features.

Improve the experience when deleting and restoring Azure Monitor Logs workspaces

Microsoft has added soft-delete workspace functionality to make it easier to recover if necessary. In fact, in the event of a cancellation, the workspace will go into a soft-delete state to allow it to be restored if necessary, including data and connected agents, within 14 days. This behavior can be circumvented and permanently deleted the workspace. To avoid the incorrect elimination of the workspaces from the Azure portal, a specific section has been added where you can consult how many solutions are installed and the relative daily data volume received in the last 7 days by data type.
Restoring the workspace, can now take place directly from the Azure portal.

Azure Advisor recommendation digests

Azure Advisor introduces the ability to receive a periodic summary of the available best practice recommendations developed by the solution. Advisor Digest Recommendations keep you up-to-date on Azure optimization opportunities outside the Azure portal. Notifications are customizable and handled through Azure Monitor Action Group.

Azure Service Health also includes emerging issues

Azure Service Health now also reports emerging issues in the Azure portal. An emerging problem is a situation in which Azure is aware of a widespread outage but may not yet be fully aware of the extent and amplitude. Previously, emerging problems were only available in the Azure Status page.

Configure

Azure Automation

TLS 1.2 Enforcement

Starting from September 1st 2020, Azure Automation will impose the presence of Transport Layer Security (TLS) version 1.2 or later, for all external HTTPS endpoints.

Secure

Azure Security Center

Changes to the just-in-time service (JIT) virtual machine (VM) Access

In the just-in-time service (JIT) virtual machine (VM) access have been made the following changes:

  • The recommendation advising to enable JIT on a VM has been renamed by “Just-in-time network access control should be applied on virtual machines” in “Management ports of virtual machines should be protected with just-in-time network access control”.
  • The recommendation is now activated only if open management ports are detected.

Custom recommendations placed in a separate panel

All the custom recommendations created for your subscriptions are now positioned in the dedicated section “Custom recommendations”.

Account security recommendations moved to the section “Security best practices”

The following recommendations have been included in the section “Security best practices” and therefore do not impact on the secure score:

  • MFA should be enabled on accounts with read permissions on your subscription (originally in the “Enable MFA” control)
  • External accounts with read permissions should be removed from your subscription (originally in the “Manage access and permissions” control)
  • A maximum of 3 owners should be designated for your subscription (originally in the “Manage access and permissions” control)

Microsoft has decided to apply this change as it has determined that the risk of these three recommendations is lower than initially thought.

Protect

Azure Backup

SAP HANA backup for VM Red Hat Enterprise Linux

Azure Backup includes protecting SAP HANA databases on Red Hat Enterprise Linux virtual machines (RHEL). This feature allows you to have integrated and without having to provide a specific backup infrastructure to protect SAP HANA databases on RHEL, one of the most commonly used operating systems in these scenarios.

Protect against accidental deletion of Azure file shares

To provide greater protection against cyberattacks and accidental deletion, Azure Backup has added an extra layer of security to the Azure file shares snapshot management solution. If you delete File Shares, content and its recovery points (Snapshots) are retained for a configurable period of time, enabling full recovery without data loss. When you configure protection for a file share, Azure Backup enables soft-delete functionality at the account storage level with a retention period of 14 days, which is configurable according to your needs. This setting determines the time window in which you can restore the contents and snapshots of your file shares after any accidental deletion operations. Once the share file is restored, backups resume working without the need for additional configurations.

Azure Site Recovery

Zone-to-zone disaster recovery available in new regions

Zone-to-Zone DR is now also available in the Southeast Asia and UK South regions. With this Azure Site Recovery feature, called zone-to-zone DR, there's an opportunity to create disaster recovery plans (DR) for virtual machines (VM), replicating them between different Azure Availability Zones. If a single Azure Availability Zone is compromised, you will be able to fail over virtual machines to a different zone within the same region and access them from the Secondary Availability Zone.

Introduced support for proximity groups

Azure Site Recovery has introduced support for proximity placement groups (PPGs). With this feature, it's a, any virtual machine (VM) hosted within a PPG can be secured using Azure Site Recovery. By enabling replication of that VM, you can provide a PPG in the secondary region as an additional parameter. When a failover process is activated, Site Recovery will place the VM in the user-supplied target PPG.

Evaluation of Azure

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

Azure IaaS and Azure Stack: announcements and updates (May 2020 – Weeks: 19 and 20)

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

New Azure VMware Solution in preview

Azure VMware Solution empowers customers to seamlessly extend or migrate their existing on-premises VMware applications to Azure without the cost, effort or risk of re-architecting applications or retooling operations. Preview of the new solution is initially available in US East and West Europe Azure regions. The new Azure VMware Solution is expected to be generally available in the second half of 2020 and at that time, availability will be extended across more regions.

The new Azure VMware Solution is:

  • First Party Microsoft Azure service, endorsed by VMware. The new release of Azure VMware Solution is built on Microsoft Azure without the use of a third-party technology. The solution is also cloud verified by VMware and leverages components of the VMware Cloud Foundation framework including vSphere, vCenter, NSX-T, vSAN and HCX.
  • Seamless integrated Azure experience. In the new solution Microsoft has rearchitected the Software Defined Datacenter (SDDC) layer that underpins the Private Cloud, ensuring a truly seamless Azure experience for customers.
  • VMware HCX Enterprise now available. The new Azure VMware Solution includes HCX Enterprise edition as an option. With additional features from HCX Enterprise, customers can further simplify their migration efforts to Azure including support for bulk live migrations.
  • Leverage pricing benefits for Microsoft workloads. Azure VMware Solutions supports the Azure Hybrid Benefit and Azure VMware Solution customers are also eligible for three years of free Extended Security Updates on 2008 versions of Windows Server and SQL Server.

New cloud regions in Italy, New Zealand and Poland

Microsoft announced plans for new cloud datacenter regions in three countries: Italy, New Zealand and Poland. In Italy, Microsoft is building a new datacenter region in Milan, which will provide access to Azure, Microsoft 365/Office 365 and Dynamics 365 and the Power Platform set of tools.

Virtual machine (VM)-level disk bursting

Virtual machine-level disk bursting is a new feature that allows your virtual machine to burst its disk IO and MiB/s throughput performance for a short time daily to handle unforeseen spikey disk traffic smoothly and process batched jobs with speed. The feature is now enabled on all Azure Lsv2-series virtual machines, with support for more virtual machine types and families to come soon. This feature doesn’t cost anything extra and comes enabled by default.

General availability of Azure Spot Virtual Machines

Azure Spot VMs provide access to unused Azure compute capacity at deep discounts. Spot pricing is available on single VMs in addition to VM scale sets (VMSS). This enables you to deploy a broader variety of workloads on Azure while enjoying access to discounted pricing compared to pay-as-you-go rates. Spot VMs offer the same characteristics as a pay-as-you-go virtual machine, the differences being pricing and evictions. Spot VMs can be evicted at any time if Azure needs capacity.

Storage

Azure Blob versioning public preview

Applications and users create, update, and delete data in Azure Blob storage continuously. A common requirement is the ability to manage and access both current and historical versions of the data. As the next step to enhance data management and protection, the Blob storage versioning preview is available. Azure Blob Versioning automatically maintains previous versions of an object and identifies them with version IDs. You can list both the current blob and previous versions using version ID timestamps. You can also access and restore previous versions as the most recent version of your data if it was erroneously modified or deleted by an application or other users.

Blob Index for Azure Storage in preview

Blob Index, a managed secondary index, allowing you to store multi-dimensional object attributes to describe your data objects for Azure Blob storage. It is now available in preview. Built on top of blob storage, Blob Index offers consistent reliability, availability, and performance for all your workloads. Blob Index provides native object management and filtering capabilities, which allows you to categorize and find data based on attribute tags set on the data.

General availability of geo-zone-redundant storage (GZRS)

GZRS helps achieve higher data resiliency by:

  • Synchronously writing three replicas of your data across multiple availability zones (like ZRS today) protecting from cluster, datacenter or entire zone failure.
  • Asynchronously replicating the data to another region within the same geo into a single zone (like LRS today) protecting from a regional outage.

When using GZRS, you can continue to read and write the data even if one of the availability zones in the primary region is unavailable. In the event of a regional failure you can also use read-access geo-zone-redundant storage (RA-GZRS) to continue having read access to your data or execute account failover to also restore write accessibility. GZRS provides a great balance of high performance, high availability and disaster recovery and is beneficial when building highly available applications/services in Azure.

Azure File Sync is removing support for TLS 1.0 and 1.1

Azure File Sync service will remove support for TLS 1.0 and 1.1 in August 2020.

Networking

Azure Virtual Network NAT in Azure Government and Azure China

Azure Virtual Network NAT (network address translation) is now generally available in the Azure Government and Azure China regions. NAT simplifies outbound-only internet connectivity for virtual networks and can be configured for one or more subnets of a virtual network.

Azure Firewall Updates

Two new key features in Azure Firewall are generally available:

Additionally, Microsoft is increasing the limit for multiple public IP addresses from 100 to 250 for both DNAT and SNAT.

Rules Engine for Azure Front Door Service is now in preview

Rules Engine on Azure Front Door Service brings your specific routing needs to the forefront of its application delivery experience, giving you more control over how you define and enforce what content gets served from where. Rules Engine empowers you to modify request and response headers, or dynamically override your existing route behavior based on incoming requests.

Private Link is now available on Event Grid

Azure Event Grid now has Private Link integration for custom topics and event domains, generally available in all Azure regions, allowing virtual network resources within their production workloads to communicate directly to their Event Grid topics without accessing the public internet. This enables enterprise workloads to take advantage of event-driven architectures securely for mission-critical workloads that require network isolation.

Azure Stack

Azure Stack Hub

Azure App Service and Azure Functions on Azure Stack Hub update available

A major update to Azure App Service on Azure Stack Hub is now available. The update build number is 87.0.2.10. All fixes and updates are detailed in the release notes.

This release updates the resource provider and brings new key capabilities and fixes:

  • Updates to App Service Tenant, Admin, Azure Functions portals, and Kudu tools.
  • Updates Azure Functions runtime to v1.0.13021.
  • Updates to core service to improve reliability and error messaging will enable easier diagnosis of common issues.
  • Updates to the application frameworks and tools including .NET Framework, ASP.NET Core, PHP, NodeJS, and NPM.
  • Windows Server updates to underlying operating system of all roles.
  • Cumulative updates for Windows Server are now applied to controller roles as part of deployment and upgrade.
  • Updated default virtual machine and scale set SKUs for new deployments.

Azure IaaS and Azure Stack: announcements and updates (May 2020 – Weeks: 17 and 18)

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

Maintenance control for platform updates

The maintenance control feature for Azure Virtual Machines platform updates is now generally available for Azure Dedicated Hosts and isolated virtual machines (VMs). This feature gives you more control over platform maintenance when dealing with highly sensitive workloads. Use this feature to control all host updates, including rebootless updates, within a 35-day window. The ability to control the maintenance window is particularly useful when you deploy workloads that are extremely sensitive to interruptions running on an Azure Dedicated Host or an isolated VM where the underlying physical server runs a single customer’s workload. This feature is not supported for VMs deployed in hosts shared with other customers.

New DCsv2-series virtual machines are available

You can develop confidential applications that protect data while it’s being processed in the CPU with new DCsv2-series virtual machines (VMs), powered by Intel SGX. Traditionally, applications are protected while at rest and in transit. Now, you can deliver applications that protect data while in use. This enables a new set of scenarios like multiparty sharing, where it’s possible to combine data from multiple companies to run machine learning models without the companies getting access to each other’s data.

Windows Server containers in AKS now generally available

Windows Server containers in Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS) are now generally available. You can take advantage of this new feature to run Linux and Windows workloads side-by-side in a single cluster using the same tools. Create/upgrade/scale Windows node pools in AKS through the standard tools (portal/CLI) and Azure will help manage the health of the cluster.

Azure Migrate now available in Azure Government

Microsoft’s service for datacenter migration, Azure Migrate, is now available in Azure Government, unlocking the whole range of functionality for government customers. Azure Migrate V2 for Azure Government includes a one-stop shop for discovery, assessment, and migration of largescale datacenters.

Storage

Enhanced features in Azure Archive Storage

Three new feature enhancements for Azure Block Blob storage and Azure Archive storage are now generally available, making the service faster, simpler, and more capable.

  • Priority retrieval from Azure Archive. High rehydrate-priority fulfills the need for emergency data rehydrate from archive, with retrievals for blobs of a few GB typically taking less than one hour.
  • Upload blob direct to access tier of your choice. The PutBlob or PutBlockList API allows you to upload your blob data directly to any access tier (hot, cool, or archive). This enables customers to write cold data directly to Azure Archive, realizing their cost savings immediately.
  • CopyBlob enhanced capabilities. The CopyBlob API supports the archive access tier, allowing you to copy data into and out of the archive access tier within the same storage account. It also includes support for the other two new features—priority retrieval and direct to access tier of your choice.

Networking

Azure Firewall: support for Windows Virtual Desktop

You can use Azure Firewall to protect Window Virtual Desktop deployments. In addition there are FQDN tags for Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD).

Azure Private Link for AKS is generally available

Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS) Private Link is generally available. You can use it to isolate your Kubernetes API server within your Azure virtual network, enabling fully private communication with the managed Kubernetes control plane hosted by AKS.

Azure Management services: What's New in April 2020

Starting from this month, the series of articles released by our community about what's new in Azure management services is renewed. They will be articles, published on a monthly basis, dedicated exclusively to these topics to have a greater level of depth.

Management refers to the tasks and processes required to better maintain business applications and the resources that support them. Azure offers many strongly related services and tools to provide a comprehensive management experience. These services are not exclusively for Azure resources, but they can potentially also be used for on-premises environments or other public clouds.

The following diagram shows the different areas related to management, which will be 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 for containers: support for monitoring the use of GPUs on AKS GPU-enabled node pools

Azure Monitor for containers has introduced the ability to monitor the use of GPUs in Azure Kubernetes Service environments (AKS) with nodes that take advantage of GPUs. They are currently supported as NVIDIA and AMD vendors.
This monitoring functionality can be useful for:

  • Check the availability of GPUs on the nodes, the use of the GPU memory and the status of GPU requests by pods.
  • View the information collected through the built-in workbook available in the workbook gallery.
  • Generate alerts on pod status

Export of alerts and recommendations to other solutions

Azure Security introduces an interesting feature that allows you to send security information generated by your environment to other solutions. This is done through a continuous export mechanism of alerts and recommendations to Azure Event Hubs or to Azure Monitor Log Analytics workspaces. This feature opens up new integration scenarios for Azure Security Center. The functionality is called Continuos Export and is described in detail in this article.

Workflow automation functionality

Azure Security Center includes the ability to have workflows to respond to security incidents. Such processes may include notifications, the initiation of a change management process and the application of specific remediation operations. The recommendation is to automate as many procedures as possible as automation can improve safety by ensuring that the process steps are performed quickly, consistent and according to predefined requirements. The Azure Security Center has been made available the functionality workflow automation. It can be used to automatically trigger the Logic Apps trigger based on security alerts and recommendations. In addition, manual trigger execution is available for security alerts and for recommendations that have the quick fix option available.

Integration with Windows Admin Center

It is now possible to include Windows Server systems residing on-premises directly from the Windows Admin Center in Azure Security Center.

Azure Monitor Application Insights: monitors Java applications codeless

The Java Application Monitor is now made possible without making changes to the code, thanks to Azure Monitor Application Insights. In fact, the new Java codeless agent is available in preview. Among the libraries and frameworks supported by the new Java agent we find:

  • gRPC.
  • Netty/Webflux.
  • JMS.
  • Cassandra.
  • MongoDB.

Retiring the solution for Office 365

For the solution “Azure Monitor Office 365 management (Preview)”, which allows you to send the logs of Office 365 to Azure Monitor Log Analytics is expected to be retired on 30 July 2020. This solution has been replaced by the solution of Office 365 present in Azure Sentinel and the solution “Azure AD reporting and monitoring”. The combination of these two solutions is able to offer a better experience in configuration and in its use.

Azure Monitor for Containers: support for Azure Red Hat OpenShift

Azure Monitor for Containers now also supports in preview the monitor for Kubernetes clusters hosted on Azure Red Hat OpenShift version 4.x & OpenShift versione 4.x.

Azure Monitor Logs: limitations on concurrent queries

To ensure a consistent experience for all users in consulting the Azure Monitor Logs, will be gradually implemented new limits of concurrency. This will help protect yourself from sending too many queries simultaneously, which could potentially overload system resources and compromise responsiveness. These limits are designed to intervene and limit only extreme usage scenarios, but they should not be relevant for the typical use of the solution.

Secure

Azure Security Center

Dynamic compliance packages available

The Azure Security Center regulatory compliance dashboard now includes thedynamic compliance packages to trace further industry and regulatory standards. The dynamic compliance packages can be added at subscription or management group level from the Security Center policy page. After entering a standard or benchmark, this is displayed in the regulatory compliance dashboard with all related data. A summary report will also be available for download for all standards that have been integrated.

Identity recommendations included in Azure Security Center tier free

Security recommendations relating to identity and access have been included in the Azure Security Center tier free. This aspect allows to increase the functionality in the cloud security posture management area for free (CSPM). Before this change, these recommendations were only available in the Azure Security Center Standard tier. Here are some examples of recommendations for identity and access:

  • “Multifactor authentication should be enabled on accounts with owner permissions on your subscription.”
  • “A maximum of three owners should be designated for your subscription.”
  • “Deprecated accounts should be removed from your subscription.”

Protect

Azure Backup

Cross Region Restore (CRR) for Azure virtual machines

Thanks to the introduction of this new feature in Azure Backup, it introduces the ability to start restores at will in a secondary region, making them fully controlled by the customer. To do this, the Recovery Service vault that holds the backups must be set to geographic redundancy; in this way the backup data in the primary region are geographically replicated in the secondary region associated with Azure (paired region).

Azure Files share snapshot management

Azure Backup introduces the ability to create Snapshots of Azure Files share, Daily, weekly, Monthly, and keep them until 10 years.

Figure 2 – Azure Files share snapshot management

Support for replacing existing disks for VMs with custom images

Azure Backup introduced support, during the recovery phases, to replace existing disks on virtual machines created with custom images.

SAP HANA backup

In Azure Backup, protection of SAP HANA DBs present in virtual machines is available in all major Azure regions. This functionality allows you to have SAP HANA database protection integrated and without having to provide a specific backup infrastructure. This solution is officially certified by SAP.

Evaluation of Azure

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

Azure IaaS and Azure Stack: announcements and updates (April 2020 – Weeks: 15 and 16)

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

SQL Server 2019 IaaS images with Linux distribution support now available

Azure Marketplace pay-as-you-go images for SQL Server 2019 on RHEL 8.0, Ubuntu 18.04, and SLES 12 SP5 are now generally available.

Virtual machine scale sets: automatic image upgrades for custom images

Virtual machine scale sets now provide the ability to automatically deploy new versions of custom images to scale set virtual machines. Enabling automatic OS image upgrades on your scale set helps ease update management by safely and automatically upgrading the OS disk for all virtual machines in the scale set. This capability is now available in preview for custom images through Shared Image Gallery.

Automatic instance repairs for virtual machine scale sets

Virtual machine scale sets now provide the capability to automatically repair unhealthy instances based on application health status. Configure the scale set instances to emit application health by using either the application health extension or Azure Load Balancer health probes. After the automatic repairs policy is enabled, when an instance is found to be unhealthy, the scale set will automatically delete the unhealthy instance and create a new one to replace it.

Azure Migrate is now available in Azure Government

Azure Migrate provides a hub of Microsoft and partner tools to help customers meet their migration needs. Azure Migrate also offers scenarios for database migration, VDI migration, and web application migration, in addition to at-scale migration of VMware, Hyper-V, and physical servers to Azure. All Azure Migrate features, including agentless discovery and assessment, application inventory, and migration, are now available in Azure Government.

Azure File Sync v10 released

The Azure File Sync agent v10 release is being released to servers which are configured to automatically update when a new version becomes available.

Improvements and issues that are fixed:

  • Improved sync progress in the portal
  • Improved cloud tiering portal experience
  • Support for moving the Storage Sync Service and/or storage account to a different Azure Active Directory (AAD) tenant
  • Evaluation tool now identifies files or directories that end with a period
  • Miscellaneous performance and reliability 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 by following the steps documented in KB4522409.

Networking

Azure Virtual Network supports reverse DNS lookup

Azure Virtual Network now supports reverse DNS lookup (PTR DNS queries) for virtual machine IP addresses by default. Use this to quickly look up name of the VM from its IP address. Previously, using DNS queries to look up the fully qualified domain name (FQDN) for a virtual machine from its IP address would result in an NXDOMAIN response. Now, instead of getting an NXDOMAIN, you’ll receive valid FQDN of the virtual machine to which the IP address belongs.

Azure Monitor: consultation of data through Workbooks

Azure Monitor Log Analytics can collect large amounts of data and it is essential to have effective methods to make it easy to access and analyze it in a simple way. Among the various possibilities offered are the Workbooks, interactive documents that allow you to better interpret the data and do in-depth analysis, also designed for collaboration scenarios. This article lists the key features of the Workbooks and the indications to use them at best.

The Workbooks combine text, Log Analytics query, Azure metrics and parameters, this is an interactive report. Interestingly, they can be accessed and editable by anyone who has access to the same Azure resources. This makes them a powerful collaboration tool between members of a team.

Possible usage scenarios

The Workbooks can be used in different scenarios, for example:

  • Guide tool for troubleshooting and post-mortem incidents. Not only can you highlight the impact of an application or virtual machine outage, but it will also be possible to combine data and provide written explanations. This can become a guide tool to discuss the steps needed to prevent future service outages.
  • Explore the use of a particular application or virtual machine when you don't know the metrics of interest in advance. In fact, unlike other analysis tools, The Workbooks combine multiple types of visualizations and analysis, making them a great tool for freeform exploration.
  • Show your team the performance of a new application feature or the performance of a new virtual machine, giving visibility of key metrics of interest.
  • Sharing the results of experimentation work on an application with other team members. You have the ability to detail the objectives of text experimentation and to show the Log Analytics metrics and queries used to evaluate the items of interest.

Advantages of Workbooks

Among the main advantages of Workbooks it is possible to quote:

  • Support for metrics, logs and Azure Resource Graph data.
  • Parameter support that enables interactive reports, for example, selecting an item in a table will dynamically update the associated charts and visualizations.
  • Document-like flow.
  • Ability to have Workbooks personal or shared.
  • Experience of simple creation and always with a view to collaboration.
  • Ability to tap into a public template gallery on GitHub that contains several ready-to-use Workbooks.

Workbooks Limits

The Workbooks they also have the following limitations which should be taken into consideration:

  • There are no automatic refresh mechanisms.
  • They are not designed to have a denser layout like dashboards and to have a single centralized control panel. In fact, they are designed to gain insights through an interactive path.

Deploy and use Workbooks

The section Workbooks is accessible from the Azure portal from Azure Monitor Log Analytics that from Application Insights and a gallery is available with a series of Workbooks by default.

Figure 1 – Workbooks Gallery from Azure Portal

In this GitHub repository you can view numerous templates of Workbooks. You can of course contribute by adding new ones or by processing existing ones.

The Workbooks can be composed of different sections that show graphs, Tables, text and input controls, all independently editable.

Figure 2 – Adding section to a Workbook

In order to create Workbooks according to your needs it is useful to know which elements are supported, in this regard, references to the official Microsoft documentation are provided:

Figure 3 - Example of Workbook showing the key metrics of the VMs

Figure 4 - Example of Workbook showing the highest CPU usage of VMs by region

To deploy new Workbooks through ARM templates you can refer to Microsoft's official documentation.

Conclusions

Thanks to the adoption of Workbooks it is possible to consult the data collected using visually appealing reports, with advanced features that allow you to greatly enrich the analysis experience from the Azure portal. Interactivity based on user inputs, personalization and sharing are important elements that make very useful to adopt Workbooks in specific scenarios.