Azure in-depth series: Azure updates 19 July 2021

Cobweb Team
Categories: Azure

Jonathan Harris, Cobweb Solutions Architect, writes …

The Azure updates to report this week are….

Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS) updates
  • Event Grid integration with AKS is now in preview.
  • Smart defaults with AKS is now in preview. These defaults cover a set of predefined settings to help when creating the AKS cluster. Defaults are categorised as Test/Dev, Standard, Cost Optimized, Batch processing, Security Hardened. Each category has certain settings enabled or disabled. The categories are suggested System and User node pool sizes, Autoscaling, Private Cluster, Availability Zones, Azure Policy, or Azure Monitor.
  • No local accounts is in Preview – the option is to disable local accounts with the AKS cluster and only use Azure AD accounts.
Azure Bastion Standard SKU is in preview
  • More premium features are now available and at larger scale.
  • The existing Bastion SKU becomes a basic SKU
    • Basic SKU is limited between 8-10 RDP or SSH sessions.
  • The new Standard SKU now allows between 2 to 50 sessions.
  • An Admin panel gives turn on and off features.
  • It is possible to upgrade from Basic to Standard, but not possible to downgrade from Standard to Basic.
  • For pricing quotes, visit Microsoft’s Azure Bastion pricing
High Performance Computing (HPC) Cache updates

Support for three new features has been introduced – for:

  • Reach caching with NVMe storage.
  • Blob NFS 3.0 Support E-Series (General Availability).
  • Blob NFS 3.0 Support for NVMe-based Caches (in Preview).
  • For more information about the above, and additional HPC Cache news, see the Microsoft HPS HPC Cache Developments
Azure Blob soft delete for containers is now Generally Available
  • A deleted container is now retained for a specified number of days to be restored if accidently removed.
Disk Pools for Azure VMware Solution (AVS) is in Preview
  • AVS is VMware hosts running in Azure Data Centres.
  • Disk pools for AVS is an iSCSI target using Managed Disks (Ultra or Premium SKU).
  • For more information, visit Microsoft’s Azure disk pools (preview) planning guide.
Azure Data Lake Storage (ADLS) Gen1 to Gen2 migration is in Private Preview
  • The number of steps to complete a migration is reduced though using the Azure portal. Data and metadata is automatically moved to a Gen2-enabled account, and when doing a complete migration, workloads do not need to be pointed to Gen2 as requests are automatically redirected.
  • For more information and to enrol in the Preview, go to the Microsoft preview page.
Azure SQL DB Always Encrypted is now Generally Available
  • Helping to guard against insider fraud, Always Encrypted ensures data is never accessible in plaintext within the database system as it is transparently encrypted and decrypted on the client side
  • Microsoft has more information on their Always Encrypted webpage.
Azure Automation Customer Managed Key (CMK) is now Generally Available
  • It is now possible to use a CMK instead of using a key from Microsoft.
Free extended security updates on Azure
Windows 365

The launch of Windows 365 was the big news from Microsoft’s partner event, Inspire (14-16 July 2021). I’m highlighting some key points below:

  • Window 365 offers a cloud personal desktop (one user, one VM). It does not offer a multi-session VM.
  • Licensing is per-user.
  • It doesn’t use FSLogix for user desktop profiles.
  • It is a simple setup, with VMs managed for you by Microsoft.
  • It does not run in an Azure subscription.
  • There are two flavours – an Enterprise or Business SKU.
  • Business is very basic – it doesn’t integrate with Azure Virtual Network, can’t do custom images, and Azure AD is authentication only.
  • Enterprise can be integrated with MS endpoint manager (MEM) and Defender. Enterprise will project a NIC into the Azure VNET. Custom images are possible, along with Hybrid authentication (Windows AD and Azure AD).
  • Both Enterprise and Business offer Windows 10/11 only.
  • VMs are not visible in a customer owned subscription, but sit in Microsoft’s own subscription.
  • You can find more information about Windows 365 on Microsoft’s Azure Virtual Desktop and Windows 365 page.
  • It will be available at the beginning of August.
For more information

If you’d like more information about any of the updates summarised above, speak to the Cobweb team (0333 009 5941 /