Microsoft kicked off October by highlighting its work in support of government customers. An independent assessment looked into the suitability of 113 Azure services to handle protected Australian government information and is available to customers and partners with similar security needs. So far, Microsoft is working with data center provider CDC to meet Australia’s federal government needs while the state of Victoria has deployed VicCloud Protect with service provider Cenitex. Azure Global general manager Lily Kim touted the company’s FedRAMP High provisional authorization in all public Azure regions, a new compliance accelerator, the assistance offered by Azure Blueprints and a White Glove Migration service with Azure Data Box for Azure Government. Sequoia Holdings announced a partnership with Microsoft to offer cloud emulation for Azure Government in classified Department of Defense and intelligence cloud regions.
Aspects of storage were also key topics. Microsoft announced direct-upload capabilities for Azure managed disks. Users can stage an on-prem VHD into a storage account and convert it to a managed disk or attach an empty disk to a VM. To overcome the limitations of these two methods, Storage Explorer will support managed disks with AzCopy v10 enabling cross-region copying. Customer provided keys can now be applied to more granular encryption scenarios for customer data in Azure Storage, with keys securely discarded after blob data is encrypted or decrypted.
For overall management and use of big data, partner director of product management Mike Flasko noted the general availability of Mapping Data Flows within Azure Data Factory. The approach helps with managing data at scale and enables users to build logical graphs and test them quickly with live data previews. It’s even possible to schedule pipelines and monitor executions from the Data Factory monitoring portal.
Several updates touch database users. Private Link is in-preview for Azure SQL Database and Data Warehouse, offering cross-premises access to a private endpoint via VPN tunneling, ExpressRoute, or private peering. A feature to allow Azure Data Factory, Power BI, VMs and other services to access Hyperscale Citus cluster is now in preview, opening the cluster firewall to accept connections. In fact, a separate preview offers the first scalability for Hyperscale Citus clusters. This allows users to independently expand up to 20 worker nodes although they need to file a support ticket for any additional nodes above that amount.
Among geographic updates, Log Analytics and Application Insights are available in Switzerland North and North Central US respectively. In Canada, the Azure team is offering a built-in blueprint for Federal PBMM data controls.
Developers learned of new pricing for Azure DevOps. With the update, the number of Basic or Basic + Test Plan licenses will change when users are added or removed to make sure that users are only paying for the licenses they actually use. Users are advised to immediately switch to API version 2019-05-13 and above if they are directly accessing the backup protected REST API.
On the subject of pricing Microsoft is experimenting with capacity based pricing for Monitor Log Analytics. In the new model, customers would pay a fixed fee for the capacity tier selected for data ingestion. The 100 GB capacity tier for instance offers a 25 percent cost savings compared to Pay-As-You-Go. Similarly, Azure Lab Services adjusts quotas per user to give more time to students. Meanwhile 12 Cognitive Services are free with an Azure free account. The list includes Language Understanding, Personalizer, QnA Maker, Text Analytics, Translator Text, Custom Vision and Form Recognizer. Throughout September, Microsoft incorporated community recommendations for Cost Management, including reconciling invoice charges with new invoice details, automated reporting across subscriptions or downloading charts as an image.
Senior compliance manager David Burt shared Azure Policy ROI data compiled by IDC. The results were promising, with most respondents indicating improved workload management, audit efficiency and security resulting in reduced risk. Close to half of respondents indicated that use Azure Blueprints to help map out compliance. IDC found a 465 percent ROI over five years and a 47 percent drop in unplanned downtime.
During its HashiConf keynote address, HashiCorp announced its HashiCorp Consul Service for Azure. The offering lets users create a service mesh, provisioning from the Azure Marketplace to control a distributed microservices architecture.