Microsoft Azure | November 2017 Updates

Categories: Cloud Infrastructure Product Updates
Tags: Microsoft Azure

A large number of Microsoft Azure updates were either announced or implemented last month. Here’s a round-up of these updates, from the oldest to the most recent…

Windows Server v1709

The Windows Server version 1709 was initially announced during September’s Ignite event and released at the start of last month. It represents the first release in a freshly accelerated schedule of Windows Server updates, with new releases set to emerge twice a year.

Remote Monitoring solution for Azure IoT Suite 

An updated and new version of Remote Monitoring is now available as a preconfigured solution for the Azure IoT Suite. There are two versions available in Java and .NET, but both are open source and fully customisable. The solution allows you to do numerous tasks including responding to an alarm, organising assets, updating firmware in your devices and filtering devices on the dashboard.

Managed Applications in Azure Marketplace 

Managed Applications are now generally available in the Azure Marketplace. It essentially allows Azure partners to provide marketplace applications that go beyond just deployment and set-up. The application can now be delivered along with a fully operated and managed ongoing solution, which Microsoft claims is a first for the public cloud.

Application Insights widget for VSTS dashboards

The addition of an Application Insights chart widget for VSTS dashboards has been a much-requested feature. Now it’s a reality that you can use to track selected metrics, as well as particulars such as time ranges and granularity. If you have Azure’s previous metric widget installed, you should already have access to this, but you can also download the widget from the Visual Studio marketplace.

Automatic OS upgrades for Azure VM scale sets

All virtual machines (VMs) in your scale set can now be set to automatically upgrade to the latest version. This lets you deploy the latest patches, including critical security updates, without the hassle and potential costs of manual checking and installation.

Support for Singularity container solution in Batch Shipyard  

Batch Shipyard is an open system designed to enable simple, configuration-based container execution on Azure Batch. You can now use Singularity containers, which can be used to package various items such as scientific workflows, data and software.

Microsoft Cognitive Services update for Microsoft Connect

Microsoft Cognitive Services allow developers to add speech, language and knowledge capabilities to their apps via artificial intelligence APIs. A number of updates were added last month including:

  • Several new regions and languages for the Text Analytics API
  • New languages available for Neural Machine Translation (NMT) in Translator API
  • NMT is now also available as an on premises service and speech translation is now powered end to end with Long Short Term Memory (LSTM) technology
  • Custom Vision Service now has support for mobile model export

Azure Networking and DNS updates

Various networking services have been introduced or extended to new regions. These include:

  • A Vnet Service Endpoints preview available in all public regions
  • DDoS protection available in Europe, US and Asia regions
  • Augmented Rules GA in all public regions
  • Data Plane Developer Kit now in preview

A couple of updates to Azure DNS were also announced. These were:

  • Support for Certificate Authority Authorization (CAA) Records
  • IPv6 Nameservers

Access Control Service (ACS) shutdown 

It was also announced last month that Access Control Service, or ACS, is being officially retired. This will eventually affect customers with ACS namespaces in their Azure subscriptions, as well as those using ACS for authentication in services such as Azure Service Bus and Azure Backup. ACS will, however, remain available for existing customers until 7 November 2018.

New Azure Policy features 

A number of new Azure Policy features were also introduced in public preview last month. These included:

  • A new Azure Policy user interface with Continuous Monitoring
  • The ability to directly create policy initiatives and apply exclusion scopes from the portal
  • Policy language enhancements

Service Health alerts 

The Azure Service Health preview aims to supply the necessary information you will need to mitigate the potential effects from an Azure Service incident. A number of new features were announced last month allowing you to create and manage alerts in this area. Starting from 27 November 27, you are now able to:

  • Set up and manage alerts for service incidents, planned maintenance and health advisories
  • Integrate existing incident management systems like ServiceNow or PagerDuty via Webhook

Azure Automation watcher tasks 

Azure Automation can make use of a hybrid worker to automate a number of different processes across Azure and on-premises environments. This capability has now been extended so that it is able to deliver automatic responses to datacentre events using watcher tasks. Watcher tasks can be used for scenarios such as monitoring ITSM systems for incidents or watching for new files to arrive in a folder and taking action based on their content.

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