Nowadays with everyone working from home, being super busy to support other people working from home, you don’t need to feel ashamed if you missed last weeks’ Microsoft virtual Conference called //BUILD. A number of interesting announcements were made, despite of the chaotic world we now are a part of.
Now, this conference is said to be a developers’ paradise, but with the whole devops’ movement in the world, you can bet your bottom dollar that Microsoft also announced some really interesting stuff for the ITPro’s. If you’re not familiair with the term “ITPro”, this means people working in the system administrator trade, working with infrastructure related technologies, like Windows Server, IaaS cloud services, Virtual Networking, Cloud Governance, security and/or App services.
In this blog I’ve tried to provide a selection of announcements that are relevant to the IT Pro community, so basically doing some filtering-as-a-service (fil-aas?).
Here we go: //BUILD announcements for the IT Pro:
Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare.
First of, this isn’t really a new product, but more a smart way to creat a standard “Suite” of products, a new combination of products as an Industry Cloud solution that will integrate Microsoft Cloud services for an industry- specific data model. Healthcare is the first industry served, with additional industry-specific clouds said to follow.
The Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare brings together capabilities from Microsoft 365, Dynamics, Power Platform and Azure. It uses a common data model to enable sharing of data across applications and access to insights from data analytics.
The idea is that the Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare will help hospitals and care providers better manage the needs of patients and staff and make resource deployments more efficient. This solution also should improve end-to-end security, compliance and accessibility of data, driving better operational outcomes.
The public preview bagan on May 19, with general availability to begin in Q4 of 2020. Find more information here
Microsoft and Quantum computing
During //BUILD Microsoft announced to have built the fifth most powerful publicly recorded supercomputer, in comparison to other machines on the list of the Top 500 supercomputers in the world, and the first that leverages the power of the cloud.
Built in collaboration with and exclusively for OpenAI, the supercomputer is purpose-built to train distributed AI models, giving it all the benefits of a dedicated appliance paired with the benefits of Azure’s modern cloud infrastructure.
For companies with demanding AI workloads, a supercomputer hosted in a public infrastructure will help accelerate AI development. Furthermore, Microsoft products and services will benefit from the new AI supercomputing technologies and large ML models, which will translate to increased productivity and new experiences for our customers.
More information on this initiative can be found here.
Although the //BUILD conference is Microsofts’ premier developer conference, they’ve outdone themselves with the following announcements around hybrid infrastructures.
Azure Arc-enabled Kubernetes clusters now in public preview
On the first day of //BUILD Microsoft announced the preview of Azure Arc-enabled Kubernetes with which customers can inventory, organize, manage and govern their Kubernetes clusters at scale from Azure, including Open Shift, across their datacenters, multicloud estates and Azure Stack Hub.
More information on this management solution can be found here: https://aka.ms/AA8e0wg
Azure Arc-enabled SUSE Linux Enterprise Server now in public preview
Microsoft and SUSE are helping customers to simplify and streamline their on-premises, edge and multicloud environments for SUSE workloads by supporting SUSE Linux Enterprise Server as an Azure Arc-enabled server.
This allows customers to inventory, organize, manage and govern their heterogenous environments including SUSE Linux Enterprise Server from Azure.
See the announcement from SUSE on this topic here: https://suse.com/c/suse-accelerates-transformation-in-the-cloud-with-solutions-for-microsoft-azure/
Azure Stack Hub; Fleet Management
Announcements about new Azure Stack Hub updates were all about simplifying fleet and resource management, and enabling 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.
You can find more information on the Azure Blog
Azure Routing Preference option, now 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.
More information on this exciting new feature, here: https://aka.ms/AA8e896
Azure Peering Service, now 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. Peering service therefore is a possible replacement for ExpressRoute with Microsoft peering for Office365.
Microsoft partnered up 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 the Peering Service.
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
Read more on Microsofts’ peering service here: https://aka.ms/AA8e897
Connect your IOT Hub to a Virtual Network, it’s now GA!
IoT Hub support for virtual networks (VNET) is now generally available, giving Microsoft IoT users an option for increasing connectivity and security. IoT Hub works as a cloud gateway to ingest data from IoT devices, and the newly available VNET support allows a user to set up a private connection experience through their Azure VNET.
This added layer of security ensures that customer data and traffic are transmitted directly to the Azure backbone network without going through the public internet.
Visit the Azure Documentation hub to learn more.
What-if for ARM Templates
Azure Resource Manager (ARM) templates help customers deliver infrastructure as code using a simple configuration language. To increase accuracy and further streamline customers’ process, Microsoft is introducing two public previews: “What-If” Analysis and Deployment Scripts
With “What-If Analysis,” customers who leverage ARM templates can now assess the impact of a deployment to an environment before submitting any changes to the deployed resources. This enables organizations to predetermine what resources will be created, updated or deleted, including any resource property changes, with a simple execution of the “what-if” command. With the Deployment Script public preview, customers can now complete an end-to-end environment setup in a single ARM Template. The resource will execute any PowerShell or Bash script as part of a customer’s template deployment. This script can be included as part of an ARM Template or referenced from an external source.
What-if you want more information? Click here!
Azure Monitor telemetry tools
Azure Monitor provides tools for collecting and analyzing telemetry that allows you to maximize the performance and availability of cloud and on-premises resources and applications.
Microsoft announced availability of codeless attach of Java and Node.js for Azure Monitor and tighter integration between Azure Application Insights and Log Analytics.
- Users can enable application performance monitoring even if they don’t have access to modify the code, including third-party and legacy applications. Adding to the previous codeless attach offering, onboarding to Azure Monitor of Node.js and Java in Azure Kubernetes Service and App Service on Linux applications without any code change is now available.
- Enhanced integration is now available for application telemetry directly
in a workspace along with platform and infrastructure logs. This enables customers to seamlessly correlate infrastructure and platform issues with application issues and get a full stack view of the application. Customers can also access the application logs faster, apply uniform role-based access control and easily integrate with other DevOps tools.
For more information on this new feature, look here: https://aka.ms/AA8e0zj
Azure Security Center updates
Azure Security Center is an infrastructure security management system for both Azure and hybrid cloud resources on-premises or in other clouds. At the annual Build conference for developers, May 19-21, 2020, Microsoft announced two updates to Azure Security Center.
- Azure Secure Score API is now generally available. Secure Score is a central component of Azure Security Center’s security posture management. The enhanced Secure Score in preview gives customers a more understandable and effective way to assess risk on their environment and prioritize actions to reduce it.
- Suppression rules for Azure Security Center alerts are now publicly available. Use suppression rules to reduce alerts fatigue and focus on the most relevant threats by hiding alerts known to be safe or related to normal activities in your organization. Suppressed alerts will be hidden in Azure Security Center and Azure Sentinel but still be available in ”dismissed” state.
Go to the Azure blog to learn more.
Azure NetApp Files achieves four 9s availability
Back in February 2020, Microsoft and NetApp achieved a major milestone in hosting this service in Azure, that’s why during //BUILD they were confident enough to announce the service level agreement for ANF (Azure NetApp Files) of 99,99% availability.
With four-9s availability, ANF meets requirements for most mission- critical applications, like SAP and e-commerce or line-of-business applications.
Azure NetApp Files (ANF) service solves performance and security challenges for organizations that want to move mission-critical applications to the cloud.
More info on the Azure Blog.
Static Web Apps in public preview
This new option is ideal for static site generators such as Hugo, Jekyll and Hexo or for developers who use frameworks like Angular, Vue and React and seek a simple interface to deploy the cloud resources needed for a single-page application. Developers can deploy source code directly from GitHub or provision the Static Web Apps service in the Azure Portal or CLI and then choose the GitHub repo that houses the source code for their application.
More integration option for AKS
Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS) support for Windows Server containers, private clusters and Azure Advisor integration is now generally available, providing added benefits for customers.
- With Windows Server container support, Azure users can now lift and shift their Windows applications to run on managed Kubernetes service with Azure to get the full benefits of portability, scalability and self-healing from Kubernetes for their production workloads. Windows and Linux applications can be run side by side within a single AKS cluster using the same tools.
- Azure Private Link allows customers to isolate their Kubernetes API server within their Azure virtual network, enabling fully private communication and reducing the potential for unauthorized access.
- Azure Advisor integration incorporates industry best practices into AKS, helping customers improve performance, availability and security. Customers receive proactive and actionable recommendations for securing resources, maintaining cluster hygiene and increasing operational efficiency.
Want to learn more on K8S? Check this out
Visual Studio Live Share now supports chat and app sharing
Visual Studio Live Share, which allows developers to collaborate by co-editing and debugging in real time, now also supports text and voice chat, as well as sharing running apps.
These new public preview features enable developers to collaborate more effectively without the need for secondary apps for chat or screen sharing.
Visual Studio Live Share allows developers to retain their personal editor preferences and their own cursor, which enables them to transition between following one another to exploring on their own. The ability to work both together and independently provides a collaboration experience that feels more like in-person collaboration.
More info on the Visual Studio blog
Windows Terminal 1.0 is Generally Available (GA)
The Windows Terminal is now out of preview and found to be stable for enterprise use.
The Windows Terminal is a modern, fast and powerful terminal application for users of command-line tools and shells such as Command Prompt, PowerShell and WSL. Features include multiple tabs, panes, Unicode and UTF-8 character support, a GPU-accelerated text rendering engine, and custom themes, styles and configurations. Windows Terminal is an open-source project available from the Microsoft Store.
In all of the days more announcements have been made, but in selecting the topics I’ve asked myself whether it would be something I as an IT Professional would be interested. I keep being surprised with how much speed Microsoft keeps on innovating on the platform.
What’s your take?