Azure is Microsoft’s cloud platform featuring over 200 products and services. At this year’s Autumn Ignite, Microsoft announced several new updates across the Azure platform and made new services available for preview. Read on to find out what’s new in Azure.
Azure Virtual Machines
Microsoft has released improved compute offerings in the form of new Azure Virtual Machines. Users can now benefit from improved performance across all workloads, as well as better pricing options. These new virtual machines (VM) are available in the general and memory-optimised families. The VM selector can be used to identify which VM is suitable for each business’ needs.
Dv5 and Ev5 Azure Virtual Machines are now generally available for businesses needing increased performance (up to 15%) across general workloads. Microsoft has also released the Dasv5 and Easv5 Azure Virtual Machines. There are options with or without disk storage, giving businesses more choice on pricing.
Ignite was used to preview the Ebs v5 Azure Virtual Machine. This memory optimised VM has 300% increased remote storage performance compared to its predecessor.
Azure Virtual Machine Selector
As Microsoft continues to expand its Azure VM offerings, organisations have a plethora of options to choose from. The new Azure Virtual Machine Selector allows users to choose their workload category, technical specs, disk storage, region, and OS. The selector will recommend a suitable VM to users based on their choices.
Azure Virtual Machine Scale Sets
Virtual Machine Scale Sets flexible orchestration mode is now generally available within Azure. This will allow users to manage VM in large, scaled-out application environments.
Azure VM Scale Sets simplify the deployment, management, and scalability of applications. They give users full control of each individual VM while increasing application resiliency on a large scale. This means businesses could control thousands of VMs.
Azure customers will now be able to:
- Change VM sizes without redeploying their scale set, resulting in greater operational agility
- Mix Spot Virtual Machines and pay-as-you-go VM within the same scale set to optimise costs
- Spread instances across fault domains automatically or specify a fault domain to ensure high availability
- Automatically increase or decrease the VM in a scale set based on metrics, schedule, or AI predictions
- Manage VM and Virtual Machine Scale Sets using the same APIs
Azure Virtual Desktop
Azure Virtual Desktop allows users to access their desktop and applications from virtually anywhere. Microsoft is now previewing several new features for Azure Virtual Desktop.
Azure Virtual Desktop for Azure Stack HCI
Azure Virtual Desktop for Azure Stack HCI is for users who need on-premises desktop virtualisation for applications to maintain performance. Azure Virtual Desktop for Azure Stack HCI enables users to:
- Run latency-sensitive applications on the same network as the users
- Meet business needs by maintaining data locally instead of in the public cloud
- Migrate and modernise traditional VDI workloads to modern cloud technology with a common management strategy across Azure and Azure Stack HCI.
- Access the only hybrid cloud solution that offers full Windows 10 and 11 desktop virtualisation
- Single or multi-session support for cost optimisation
Azure Virtual Desktop autoscale
The new autoscale feature for Azure Virtual Desktop allows users to start or stop session hosts automatically based on a defined schedule. Users can save on costs by shutting down idle session hosts during off-peak hours while maintaining enough capacity to meet users’ needs during peak hours.
Azure Virtual Desktop starter kit for Power Automate
Microsoft has introduced the Power Automate Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD) Integration Starter Kit (which includes a Power App) – a set of templates designed to help orchestrate and scale virtual machines used to run desktop flows.
Azure offers users high-performing, scalable cloud storage solutions. Here’s what’s new in Azure Storage:
- Disk bursting: Managed disk bursting allows users to boost the performance of their disk storage. Businesses now have on-demand disk bursting, allowing them to burst six times of the provisioned amount. Traditionally, customers were only able to burst on a credit-based system.
- Live resize: Live resizing in Azure is currently in public preview for Azure Disk Storage. This feature can provide users with an increased storage capacity and improved performance of apps and services.
- Ultra Disk: Businesses can now provision Ultra Disk to boost their virtual machines. Ultra Disk offers users a high throughput (up to 4000 MB/s per disk).
Azure Monitor Updates
Azure Monitor allows business to maximise the performance of their apps and services. It gives users an overview of their hybrid cloud environment.
Microsoft continues to improve and expand the Azure Monitor services and to embrace the open-source community with the adoption of vendor-neutral instrumentation. Several new capabilities and improvements are being launched within Azure Monitor:
- OpenTelemetry: Azure Monitor is now previewing support for OpenTelemetry in application insights. This is an open-source standard for vendor-neutral instrumentation with exporters for .NET, Node.JS and PythonApps.
- Container Insights: Users can now monitor all Azure Arc enabled Kubernetes clusters (AKS or non-AKS) with Container Insights. Businesses can now take advantage of one-click onboarding from Azure portal. This gives users a good visibility of their cluster performance.
- Network Insights: Enhanced troubleshooting for Azure Firewall and VPN Gateway is now generally available in Network Insights. This includes new resource topology views and pre-built monitoring workbooks.
- Log Analytics Workspaces: Log Analytics Workspace Insights is now generally available. Users can monitor workspaces with a unified view of workspace usage, performance, health, agent, queries and change log.
- Event Hub: Azure Monitor alerts can now be integrated with Event Hub for network isolation. Users can enable receipt of alert notifications over a secure network using Event Hub and Private Links.
Azure Migration and Modernisation
Microsoft continues to offer enhanced capabilities for migration and modernisation when it comes to Azure. The Azure Migration and Modernisation Programme continues to expand, and Microsoft has announced new tools and product capabilities.
The Azure Migration and Modernisation Programme
The Azure Migration and Modernisation Programme (AMMP) has helped thousands of customers to simplify and accelerate their cloud journeys. There is now additional support within the AMMP to assist users in moving their applications, data, and infrastructure to Azure while enabling hybrid flexibility and an enhanced security posture.
This additional support with the AMMP is available for the following scenarios:
- Security: AMMP will provide additional guidance and deployment assistance for services like Azure Security Centre and Azure Defender to expand its focus on security.
- Hybrid/Azure Arc: AMMP will assist users to manage both cloud and on-premises environments by helping them to deploy Azure Arc to workloads that need to remain on-premises or aren’t ready to move yet.
- Expanded app modernisation: AMMP will help customers move their Red Hat OpenShift environments to Azure and build new cloud-native apps using containerised/microservices architectures and DevOps approaches.
- SAP: AMMP will assist users in planning and moving their systems, applications, and products (SAP) environments to Azure.
Migration and modernisation tools and product capabilities
Microsoft has announced the following enhanced tools and product capabilities for Azure.
Azure Migrate is a central hub for migration and modernisation. Its key functions are:
- Key migration scenarios across infra, apps and data
- Integrated discovery, assessment, and migration capabilities
- Cost-efficient migration with Azure cost optimisation features and tools
- Centralised migration repository with end-to-end tracking
Azure Migrate recently previewed two new features:
- Agentless discovery, and assessment of ASP.NET web apps
- App containerisation tool expansion to include Azure App Service as deployment target in addition to Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS)
Azure SQL Managed Instance
Azure SQL Managed Instance is an intelligent, scalable cloud database service. It provides premium series hardware, Windows authentication, and a 16 TB storage capacity for added performance, scale, and flexibility. The new link feature within Azure SQL Managed Instance enables mission-critical workload migration with minimal downtime.
Azure landing zones
Azure landing zones in the Microsoft Cloud Adoption Framework for Azure assist users in preparing their cloud environments for migration or modernisation. The Azure landing zone accelerator was built to make Azure landing zones creation even easier by providing an intuitive Azure portal-based deployment experience.
Azure Networking allows users to connect and deliver hybrid and cloud-native applications with low-latency, zero-trust-based networking services.
The following services are now in public preview:
The following services are now generally available:
- Azure Network Function Manager
- Updates for Azure ExpressRoute
- Azure Bastion Standard SKU
- Enhancements for Application Gateway Web Application Firewall (WAF)
Azure Chaos Studio is an experimentation platform for improving app resiliency through disruption and is currently in public preview. It offers businesses a fully managed experimentation platform to accelerate discovery of hard-to-find issues. Chaos Studio allows users to intentionally disrupt their apps to identify gaps and plan mitigations before those issues affect end users.
Giving users a better understanding of application resiliency protects them from faults and failures. It also allows for the safe recreation of outages to improve and troubleshoot designs and proactive weakness testing of Azure cloud apps.
Azure Arc offers simplified management, faster app development, and consistent Azure services.
Users with VMware vSphere and Azure Stack HCI systems can secure and govern existing VMs and Kubernetes with Azure Arc.
Microsoft is previewing lifecycle management of VMs on VMware vSphere and Azure Stack HCI deployments on-premises from the Azure Portal. Users migrating their on-premises deployment to Azure VMware Solutions will now also be able to perform lifecycle management of VMs from the Azure Portal.
Microsoft is also introducing the following updates for Azure Arc:
- Increased Azure Arc-enabled Machine Learning capabilities in preview with the ability to do inferencing to enable predictions using ML models anywhere
- Updates to Azure Arc-enabled SQL Managed Instance with directly connected mode through Azure Arc generally available to help customers deploy, manage, and secure their databases from Azure
- Azure Virtual Desktop for Azure Stack HCI is in preview for users who want a modern cloud-based desktop and app virtualisation solution on-premises for latency or regulatory reasons
- Microsoft Defender for Cloud now extends Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM) and Workload Protection capabilities to Amazon Web Services (AWS) allowing customers to secure their multicloud environments from a single place
- Azure Migration and Modernisation Programme (AMMP) to support Azure Arc scenarios
The Azure Stack portfolio of products extends Azure services and capabilities to users’ environment of choice. Microsoft has announced new ways to operate hybrid with workloads on your Edge and on-premises datacentres, allowing customers to run popular public cloud workloads outside of the cloud but with the same benefits. These are the new updates and tools coming to Azure Stack:
- Updates for Azure Stack HCI deliver new and differentiated capabilities for the infrastructure, management, and security of Azure Stack HCI clusters
- Infrastructure-level updates include GPU enablement for AI/machine learning, soft kernel reboot, thin provisioning, and dynamic CPU capability
- Management level updates include multi-cluster monitoring, the ability to create and manage virtual machines (VMs) from the Azure portal and managed guest OS inside VMs
- At security level, server core is now included in all Azure Stack HCI integrated systems to provide baseline hardening against current and future threats
- A new partner programme allows IT pros to leverage validated independent software vendor (ISV) solutions and partner services on Azure Stack HCI
Microsoft is currently previewing Azure Automanage, which offers a unified solution to simplify IT management in the cloud. Automanage offers both custom configuration profiles and support for Azure Arc-enabled servers.
Azure Automanage for Windows Server enables users to:
- Deploy security updates without having to reboot with hotpatch
- Securely transfer files using the Server Message Block (SMB) over QUIC protocol
- Retain private IP addresses by extending subnets to the cloud during migration
Microsoft Defender for Cloud
Azure Security Centre and Azure Defender are now collectively called Microsoft Defender for Cloud. Native support for multi-cloud environments is now available through the extension of Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM) and Cloud Workload Protection capabilities to Amazon Web Services (AWS).
New capabilities in Microsoft Defender for Cloud include:
- Assessing AWS configurations against security best practices and common regulatory standards, with more than 150 out-of-the-box recommendations and the ability to build custom ones.
- AWS security recommendations will now also be reflected in Secure Score, enabling teams to better prioritise across multi-cloud environments through a holistic view of their security state.
- Support for Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service (EKS), which extends workload protection capabilities to AWS and provides customers with a more end-to-end experience.
- Integration with Azure Purview that allows security teams to discover, classify, track and secure sensitive information across their cloud workloads, improving alert prioritisation and security recommendations.
Microsoft Azure is much more than a run-of-the-mill cloud platform.
As the portfolio of Azure products and services continues to expand, so do the benefits and opportunities for users. As a leading Microsoft partner, Content+Cloud has extensive experience of helping customers migrate to Azure. Find out more about our Azure services.