This week as a nice change of pace as there was a pause in the large Azure proposal I’ve been working on as we reached the first deadline and presented our initial results. It took a lot of work through the Thanksgiving holiday in the US to pull together the technical approach as well as some significant business and financial modeling. After presenting that approach on Monday, I had to fly to Phoenix for the rest of the week for a planning summit with the team I work with where we create most of Microsoft Consulting Services datacenter and cloud offerings. Those offerings are repeatable engagements for topics like Azure infrastructure configuration, large scale migration, automation, etc. We create detailed technical guidance as well as design workshops, project plans, etc. Basically all of the things a consulting team would need to successfully deliver and engagement to a customer. By standardizing them, we reduce the time they take while at the same time increasing the quality of the delivery. Those offerings are used by Microsoft Consulting Services and we also package them up and provide them to Microsoft Partners.
Several times a year our team meets to plan out all of the new offering we want to create and any updates we need for existing offerings due to changes in Azure, Windows Server, System Center, etc. These meetings are the part of my job I enjoy the most as we need to look ahead to trends in the industry, the direction of the product groups, and the needs of our customers and determine how to use the resources we have to the best outcome. This has been challenged as everything else has by the pace of development Microsoft is now on. Especially this coming year where we’ve have continued rapid evolution of Azure but now also need to be gearing up for a significant Windows Server and System Center release. We had a productive meeting and some fun with those topics!
In Microsoft news this week the following items caught my attention:
Announcing Microsoft Azure Backup Server
Microsoft Azure Backup Server is included as a free download with Azure Backup that enables cloud backups and disk backups for key Microsoft workloads like SQL, SharePoint and Exchange regardless if these workloads are running on Hyper-V, VMware or Physical servers. We had previously released Microsoft Azure Backup Server on Oct 7, 2015 with English-only support. In this release, we are extending support for all other supported languages in Azure – German, Spanish, French, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese (Brazil), Russian, Chinese Simplified (PRC) and Chinese Traditional (Taiwan). Announcing Microsoft Azure Backup Server | Microsoft Azure Blog
This release of Azure Backup Server supports more languages now. This solution enables a hybrid cloud backup scenario with an on-premises disk based backup plus backup to Azure cloud storage.
Azure Container Service preview
Today we are making a preview of Azure Container Service (ACS) available to our customers. ACS is an Azure Compute resource provider to create and manage a cluster of virtual machines that act as container hosts together with a number of “master” machines that are used to orchestrate your application containers.
ACS provides an optimized configuration of popular open source scheduling and orchestration tools that enable you to use your existing skills to deploy and manage container based applications on Microsoft Azure. As we shared in September, this preview builds on our work with our partners Docker Inc. and Mesosphere to deliver a production ready container service based on Docker, Apache Mesos and open source components from Mesosphere’s Datacenter Operating System (DCOS). Together we have engaged with the open source communities to ensure that we can run these workloads optimally on Azure without compromising application portability for our customers. This work continues and we look forward to further enhancing this service in the future. Azure Container Service preview | Microsoft Azure Blog
Over this series of posts I’ve been doing weekly, almost every on includes some significant announcements in the container world. The preview of ACS is a big one and this post covers the details plus a great 10 minute video outlining the workflow for developing with containers and how it enables dev/ops scenarios. Still funny (and a great improvement) to hear a Microsoft program manager say “I’m a Linux guy”
Announcing Azure Portal general availability
We are excited to announce that as of today, portal.azure.com (codename Ibiza), has achieved general availability (GA) status and is the default portal for Azure!
GA release of the portal was a quality driven release rather than date driven. It has been a long journey and we could not have gotten here without your continuous feedback and contributions. We had set a quality bar for ourselves in terms of usability, performance and reliability that we needed to meet in order to make the portal generally available. Our team has been hard at work improving on those areas and we are proud to share that we have met those quality bars. Announcing Azure Portal general availability | Microsoft Azure Blog
The loooooooong awaited GA of the preview portal! I know there is a love/hate relationship most people have with the portal. It’s obviously better than the original portal but it also had it’s issues. There has been a significant effort to improve performance and quality. I think there is also an ongoing struggle to provide efficient UI to the massive number of Azure services and features. Looking forward to checking out the portal this week as I get back to some technical work.
Announcing new CDN features and capabilities in the new Azure Portal
We are very excited to announce a number of powerful new features and capabilities that take Azure CDN to the next level. Azure CDN is also now available in the new Azure portal via two new SKUs: CDN Standard and CDN Premium. Both these SKUs offer a great new experience for enabling and managing your CDN and provide access to new CDN POPs in India, Australia and South America.
In addition to the features available in Azure CDN Standard, CDN Premium offers an extensive set of advanced capabilities, including a rules engine that provides very granular control on how and when your content is served and advanced and real time analytic modules that allow you to better understand your users and how they are interacting with your content using historical and real-time data. Announcing new CDN features and capabilities in the new Azure Portal | Microsoft Azure Blog
Azure CDN continues to improve. I’ve not done any work myself with CDN, it’s another one of those area which sounds really interesting and where I know folks who have done significant work in this space (such as all the work around the Olympics).
Azure Security Center now available
In a keynote two weeks ago, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella shared the company’s vision for enterprise security in a mobile-first, cloud-first world. He highlighted the need for a new approach to security – one that leverages Microsoft’s unique insights into the threat landscape – and showcased Microsoft technologies, including Azure Security Center, which will work together to help customers better prevent, detect, and respond to threats.
Today, we are pleased to announce that the public preview of Azure Security Center is now available. The new service offers unmatched security monitoring and management for your cloud resources and is an essential part of Microsoft’s vision to deliver a holistic, agile security platform for today’s enterprise. With Azure Security Center, you can: Azure Security Center now available | Microsoft Azure Blog
A solution in some form for centralizing the security related events going on in Azure subscriptions was a big ask from customers which this service begins to answer. Also, be sure not to underestimate all the announcements Satya made related to security a couple weeks ago. I know several people moving into the org structures he announced and they are top notch. As for Azure Security Center, check out the AzureCon session, review the documentation, and read the announcement to learn more.
Announcing availability of Debian GNU/Linux as an endorsed distribution in Azure Marketplace
Today we are announcing the availability of Debian GNU/Linux as an endorsed distribution in the Azure Marketplace in collaboration with credativ.
Debian is a free operating system that comes with over 43,000 packages and runs in many architectures and even different kernels. The 64-bit version of Debian GNU/Linux for Intel architecture is one of the most popular Linux distributions in the market, used by developers, governments, enterprises, application architects and derivative developers alike.
With this announcement, customers are able to provision Debian-based virtual machines in Microsoft Azure by selecting the most up-to-date point versions of Debian 7 (codename “wheezy”) and Debian 8 (codename “jessie”) built by credativ. Announcing availability of Debian GNU/Linux as an endorsed distribution in Azure Marketplace | Microsoft Azure Blog
More Linux goodness in Azure. I’ve seen numbers we’ve publically disclosed along the lines of 20% – 30% of VMs in Azure are running Linux and that was before the Red Hat announcement a couple weeks ago. This year I believe is the tipping point where Microsoft and Linux / Open Source really move into a new phase and all the old baggage will be wiped away. We might even see the first article written about Microsoft and open source that DOESN’T dredge up Ballmer’s “Linux is like a cancer” quote back from the dark ages.
Azure SQL Data Warehouse: November 2015 Updates
We’re excited to announce another round of improvements during the month of November for SQL Data Warehouse. Please note that, in addition to these improvements, since our last update we’ve also added Data Auditing and Transparent Data Encryption.
Several updates to Azure SQL Data Warehouse. Note how some interesting security features are included here as well.
Cloud Scalability Patterns with Matt Johnson
Matt, from the Patterns and Practices group, spent some time discussing some interesting considerations we should all have when moving our applications to the cloud. He was very thorough! He did a great job in filling in those important architectural gaps that are essential for creating powerful and resilient applications in the cloud. Here is a great breakdown of the things he discussed:
Here is a great breakdown of the things he discussed:Decomposition LogicalPhysicalPartitioning Size/Perf LimitsVertical vs HorizontalMulti TenantAzure SQL Elastic DBDensity IdlenessAsyncBulk OperationsPerformance MonitoringTuningBottlenecksDevelopment Patterns CQRSCache/CDNTo learn more, Matt also provided some really helpful links:Azure architecture guidancePerformance optimization guidanceScalability best practicesCloud design patternsAsync tips Cloud Scalability Patterns with Matt Johnson | Seth Juarez | Channel 9
This was a really interesting video from an architecture perspective. Several key topics were covered in a great overview of the areas you need to think about when planning either a migration of your application to Azure or designing new applications.
That’s it for this week. Add a comment below if any other interesting articles or announcements caught your attention. Thanks!