Azure Updates

New – Azure Advisor, Azure Backup

Wow! I’ve been quite busy the last few weeks and I missed posting. This is no good… especially with all the new stuff announced this week! There’s sometimes lulls in new stuff (at least, that I care about), but this week has been full of cool and exicting features

Some of this stuff I saw at Ignite, some of this stuff I saw in private previews before it was released, and some of it is just new stuff. It’s all pretty exciting, and I really encourage everyone who works with Azure to take a look at it.

Starting off with VMWare backup with MABS – this is a great feature that’s going to make DPM/MABS a much better value proposition for a lot of companies. Despite Hyper-V being free (as in beer), and overall pretty good at doing what it does, VMWare is still the market leader for virtualization. Azure Backup Server plugs into VMWare using a backup API, which allows for a proper backup of the VM. It’s arguably easier to protect too – VMWare’s organization of servers into folders means you just apply a backup policy to that folder, and any future VMs are immediately backed up. Simple! Of course, this means that it’s easy to get your data backed up off-site, which is really important to having good backups

Other news in Backup address a long-standing problem with using the cloud for data storage – it’s really easy to set things up, but if one of your employees becomes a disgruntled ex-employee, or an employee’s credentials are compromised, it doesn’t take very long for the data to be ex-data. It’s a really good reason to enable Role-Based Access Control throughout your Azure subscription, but most organizations still have smaller IT teams, and only a few people manage ALL of Azure. The new capabilities help protect backup data by delaying deletion for a certain number of days, requiring a PIN as an additional security gateway, and alerting for certain types of actions which could be critical.

And finally – there’s a way to quickly and easily configure VM-level backup for your Azure VMs with a few clicks in the Azure Portal. This makes it a lot easier to quickly and easily protect all your VMs. Of course, everyone should use templates for deploying Azure infrastructure, and those templates should apply Azure Backup policies, but that’s not necessarily where everyone is in their Azure journey. Having it available in the Portal just makes it simple.

For the developers in the crowd, Azure Application Insights and Azure Fucntions are now GA – I use Application Insights to monitor traffic to the blog, and someday I’d like to instrument the web application with it. I simply haven’t gotten around to it yet. AI has a lot of really useful instrumentation capabilities for web applications, and interoperates nicely with Azure PaaS to give you a pretty comprehensive overview of what your application is doing.

I haven’t yet had a chance to play with Azure Functions (largely because I’m not very good at programming) but it sounds pretty awesome. You can read a great use-case for Azure Functions over on Troy Hunt’s blog here, where he describes how he uses Azure Functions to rate-limit abusive IPs.

And finally – Azure Advisor is public knowledge now. It’s a great way to assess your environment for simple ways to reduce cost, ensure your infrastructure meets the basic requirements for an SLA, improve performance, and secure the environment. It ties in with existing advisory tools like Azure Security Center, and makes it a lot easier to determine whether your Azure environment is healthy. Like Security Center, it’s worth having a look and checking up on any recommendations it has.

As you can see, Azure is continuously evolving – check the Azure Blog daily for new features. If you want something to be considered, check out the Azure UserVoice and submit your idea or upvote it – it may already be there!

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