The Microsoft Azure Partner Community is led by National Partner Technology Strategists from the Microsoft US Partner Team. Partner Community activities include blog posts, discussions on Yammer, newsletters, and community calls.
Infrastructure as a Service announcements from Build and Ignite
In the last 12 months, the Azure product team has released more than 500 new features—a lot to try to keep up with. This month’s blog series will help you understand what’s new and relevant for your partner business. If you are attending WPC 2015, awareness of these new features will be useful for the cloud profitability discussions happening throughout the keynotes, sessions, and connections. You can always get the latest information about features and capabilities in our Cloud Platform roadmap.
Today’s post is about Azure Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), comprising the Compute, Storage, and Networking areas in Azure.
Microsoft Operations Management Suite
Microsoft Operations Management Suite (OMS) is a game changer for partners that lets you help your customers gain control over any hybrid cloud. They can manage Azure or AWS, Windows Server or Linux, VMware or OpenStack with this cost-effective, all-in-one cloud IT management solution.
With OMS, there are six big benefits right out of the box:
- Log Analytics – Collect and search across multiple machine data sources and identify the root cause of any operational issues
- Availability – Integrated recovery is enabled for all your servers and apps, no matter where they reside
- Automation – Complex and repetitive operations are orchestrated for more efficient and cost-effective hybrid cloud management
- Security – Identify malware status and missing system updates, and collect security-related events to perform forensic, audit, and breach analysis
- Extending System Center – OMS combines with System Center to do some amazing things. For example, OMS extends its capability to deliver a full hybrid management experience across any datacenter or cloud
- Hybrid and open – We recognize your organization is no longer housed in just a single datacenter. OMS can manage your hybrid cloud no matter what topology or technology you’re using, and it works seamlessly with our existing on-premises infrastructure
Brad Anderson’s keynote at Ignite included a demo of Operations Management Suite (watch from 2:50:05)
Azure Stack is the same core technology used in Azure, and brings Azure to your datacenter for the deployment of traditional enterprise apps as well as modern apps and services. Azure Stack enables you to deliver an agile platform while still maintaining central oversight.
Azure Stack transforms your datacenter infrastructure into automated resource pools that can be tailored to application service levels. This means that your app owners can quickly consume standardized IaaS/PaaS services using the same self-service experience as Azure – and they can do it through a consistent app platform that spans on-premises and Azure. As you start helping your customers plan the future of their datacenters in Azure and on premise, start looking at how Azure Stack can support that vision.
Other Azure Stack considerations:
- Cloud-inspired infrastructure – Azure Stack is built on a great heritage of technology (Azure, Windows Server, System Center) and it delivers reliable, software-defined infrastructure that’s proven at hyper scale
- On-demand infrastructure extensions – You have access to the bottomless scale and elasticity of Azure, without affecting your ongoing on-premises security protocols or performance
- Cloud-consistent service delivery – Enable your developers and end-users to consume software-defined infrastructure using the same intuitive self-service experience as Azure. The result is faster time-to-market with composable IaaS/PaaS services that can be deployed wherever you need them (on-premises, hosted, or Azure)
- Cloud-optimized application platform – Windows Server and Azure deliver a consistent app platform for next-generation apps. This empowers developers to build apps for any environment, and those apps can be used in any cloud without having to modify, rewrite, or reconfigure code
Watch the Azure Stack presentation in Brad Anderson’s Ignite keynote (watch from 2:36:13)
Azure Resource Manager Support for VMs, Storage, and Networking
Azure Resource Manager now supports Compute, Storage, Networking and More. No longer will you have to have long PowerShell scripts to create your deployments of multiple machines, custom storage accounts, or tricky networking rules. It’s now contained inside declarative json files that will allow you to use a single line of PowerShell code, referencing that file in order to build your Azure infrastructure in parallel.
Azure Resource Manager 2.5 for Visual Studio enables you to:
- Create an application using the Azure Gallery templates
- Create and edit Azure Resource Manager deployment templates (for example, a web site with a database) and parameter files (for example, you can have different settings for development, staging, and production)
- Create resource groups and deploy templates into these to simplify the creation of resources
I talked about Azure RemoteApp in a recent post, and the feature has been generally available since November, so why mention it here? During the Ignite keynote, there was an excellent demo that showed the power of RemoteApp.
You may have customers who have large inventories of apps, some of them so old and dated that they are encountering compatibility issues. Or, you may find a situation where part of an install base is on iOS or Android, and there is no app for either of those platforms, or perhaps there isn’t a native app, or the data is sensitive and you don’t want it to be on devices. With Azure RemoteApp you can deliver the apps your users need to all of their devices, and to any platform.
Watch the demo about Azure RemoteApp in Brad Anderson’s Ignite keynote (starts at 2:09:42)
Premium Storage general availability
When working with customers to run VMs on Azure, you may discover a need for high-performance, low-latency disk support for I/O intensive workloads. With Premium Storage, your applications can provision up to 32 TB of storage per VM and achieve 64,000 IOPS (input/output operations per second) per VM with extremely low latencies for read operations. This high performance option will help you move even the most compute intensive customer workloads to Azure.
Watch these three sessions from Build and Ignite to learn more about Premium Storage.
Azure Resource Manager
Azure Resource Manager (ARM) is a new and powerful way to manage your Azure resources. For partners with solutions that are repeatable deployments, Azure Resource Manager will allow you to accelerate deployment times of your IP.
Going forward, Azure resource provisioning will be based on Azure Resource Manager, which provides a number of new features like templates, RBAC, resource groups, and others. ARM exposes resources through “Resource Providers,” where each resource being managed is done by its own resource provider.
There is also the new Storage Resource Provider for ARM. SRP allows you to manage your storage accounts (create/delete/update/read storage account, get/set keys, etc.), while inheriting the benefits of using the ARM provisioning stack.
VM Disk Encryption for Windows and Linux Virtual Machines
At Ignite, we demonstrated a new capability that lets you encrypt all of your Virtual Machine disks, including the boot and data disks. Disk encryption for VMs works with Linux and Windows, and is integrated with KeyVault so you can manage encryption keys using the KeyVault service, while ensuring all the data in the VM disks is encrypted at rest safely in your storage accounts. Learn more in this blog post, and watch the video of the Ignite session, which touches on Disk Encryption and a few other useful data protection topics. VM Disk Encryption will be available soon.
VM Scale Sets
VM Scale sets are another new capability demonstrated at Ignite. These enable you to do set-based operations such as create/delete/update on a group of identical VMs through a single API call. Since all VMs in a VM Scale set have the same configuration, it supports rapid auto scaling of VMs. This capability also helps with image patching across a set of VMs. VM Scale sets are ideally suited for building hyper-scale services targeting big compute, big data, containerized workloads and supports both windows and Linux. We expect to launch feature within the next couple of months.
User Defined Routing
With user defined routing, you can define custom routes in Virtual Networks to control how traffic flows. Azure now allows customers to override the default static routing policy, which enables a number of Virtual Appliance scenarios such as “NAT”ing, “application firewall,” “bring your own gateway,” ‘intrusion protection systems,” and “intrusion detection systems.” User defined routes make it possible to run sophisticated network topologies in the cloud, which mirrors the setup in on-premises. Please see the documentation page and the following video to learn more and use this feature.
New Network Virtual Appliances
As announced at RSA Conference 2015, Network Virtual Appliances in Azure will include a variety of industry-leading appliances such as load balancers, WAN optimizers, and network security appliances that are enabled by partnerships with industry leaders such as Cisco, Barracuda, Check Point, Fortinet, Websense, Palo Alto Networks, F5, and Alert Logic. Many of these solutions are available in the Azure Marketplace, and will give partners greater flexibility in designing applications and customer solutions along with a higher degree of control on the networking topologies.
Azure Domain Name System (DNS), currently a public preview, is a new Azure service that allows you to host your domains alongside your Azure apps. By hosting your domains in Azure, you can manage your DNS records using your existing Azure subscriptions. Azure DNS relies on a global network of name servers and provides the reach, scale, and redundancy needed to ensure ultra-fast DNS responses and ultra-high availability for your domains.
Microsoft Azure ExpressRoute Premium Add-on Package
For Azure ExpressRoute customers who require a large number of Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) routes, global connectivity, or more Azure Virtual Network (VNet) links per circuit, we introduced the ExpressRoute Premium add-on package, a set of capabilities that no other public cloud provider offers. This add-on can be applied over the ExpressRoute Network Service Provider or Exchange Provider circuits, increasing the limit for public and private peering from 4,000 to 10,000 routes. In addition, the ExpressRoute Premium add-on provides global connectivity (for example, a VNet created in West Europe can be accessed through an ExpressRoute circuit provisioned in the West US region), while now allowing more than 10 VNet links per ExpressRoute circuit, with the exact limit depending on circuit bandwidth. Learn more in the ExpressRoute technical overview.
Azure ExpressRoute and Site-to-Site VPN co-exist
Based on customer feedback, we recently introduced the ability to use ExpressRoute and Site-to-Site VPN simultaneously on the same virtual network. This enables you to set up highly available cross-premises connections by using one as a failover for the other. To use this capability, you will need to use the High-performance VPN gateway or the new Standard VPN gateway. Learn more about using these gateways on MSDN.
Multiple Virtual IPs per Cloud Service
You can now get more than one load-balanced public IP address (also called Virtual IP address) assigned to a set of virtual machines (VMs), enabling high-availability and high-scale scenarios. This enables scenarios such as hosting of multiple secure websites in a cloud service or allowing multiple SQL Server AlwaysOn Availability Group listeners access to the same set of VMs.
Join me on Thursday, June 18, for the Azure Partner Community call.
Author’s note: I want to thank fellow Microsoft bloggers Rick Claus, Yousef Khalidi, Venkat Gattamneni, Brad Anderson, and others who covered two conferences, hundreds of sessions, and a flurry of announcements. Their posts were extremely valuable in putting this post together for you. It takes a team, and this is a great one!