• 7 min read

Azure shines bright at Ignite!

Today at Ignite, Brad Anderson – CVP of Microsoft’s Cloud and Enterprise division – laid out the key attributes of what makes for an intelligent cloud in today’s mobile-first cloud-first world.

Today at Ignite, Brad Anderson – CVP of Microsoft’s Cloud and Enterprise division – laid out the key attributes of what makes for an intelligent cloud in today’s mobile-first cloud-first world. An intelligent cloud platform needs to be trustworthy, flexible and integrated. Azure is a rapidly innovating platform that delivers on these core principles and in the last 12 months, we’re proud to have added over 500 features and services to the platform. But what makes Azure shine isn’t just all of the innovation we’re adding, it’s what you – our customers and partners – are building on top of the platform. From 3M using Azure to accelerate mobile application development to Heineken running its global marketing campaigns to GE Healthcare delivering secure and flexible healthcare applications, we’re seeing customers do amazing things by leveraging the power of Azure.

I’m thrilled today to highlight several exciting announcements that will let you innovate even more with Azure, bring the power of Azure into your datacenter, and get a consistent experience across cloud, on-premises or with hybrid scenarios.

Azure in your datacenter

One of the things that makes Azure powerful is the hyper-scale at which it runs and the battle-hardening that goes into its technologies. With our fundamental belief in hybrid, and a promise to deliver a high degree of consistency across premises, we’re integrating Azure technologies with on-premises solutions so you get the flexibility of choosing where you run your workloads without compromise:

  • With today’s announcement of the Microsoft Azure Stack, you will be able to bring into your own datacenters much of the same code base as Azure so you have a very high degree of consistency between applications running in your own datacenter and the Azure cloud. You get the same experience as the Azure Resource Manager that lets you create and manage applications using declarative templates, apply RBAC rules, and tag resources.
  • Windows Server 2016 Technical Preview 2 gives you the power of container technologies such as Hyper-V containers and the Nano Server, and also Azure Service Fabric to build and deploy modern hyper-scale applications using micro-services. Azure Service Fabric is the foundational technology used in Azure’s core infrastructure and powers services like Skype for Business, Azure SQL Database and Cortana.
  • System Center 2016 Technical Preview 2 has new features and capabilities that enhance the management experience for a hybrid cloud world that System Center already provides.
  • Operations Management Suite (OMS) leverages Microsoft’s deep management experience to streamline cloud management to deliver heterogeneous management capabilities for any cloud. OMS provides customers simplified IT management for Azure, AWS, Windows Server or Linux, VMWare or OpenStack with an all-in-one cost-effective cloud IT management solution.

Azure ExpressRoute for Office 365 – partners and availability

Just as we’re working hard to bring the power of Azure to your datacenter, we’re also working hard to ensure you get a consistent set of experiences across Microsoft’s cloud offerings. To that end, we announced in April that we will enable ExpressRoute for Office 365. This lets you use the same private Azure ExpressRoute connection to carry Office 365 traffic to your on-premises environments. So with ExpressRoute, you not only get predictable network performance with Azure but also Office 365 services. Today, we’re excited to announce that we’re working closely with three partners – AT&T, British Telecom and Equinix – and are looking to bring this capability to the market in Q3 of 2015. We’re working to add more partners to the ExpressRoute partner ecosystem and will have additional details to share in the coming months. For further details on ExpressRoute for Office 365, please read the Office 365 blog post.

New Networking services and capabilities in Azure

This week at Ignite, we’re also adding many features and services that let you manage your applications in Azure better, and help you create sophisticated networking topologies in Azure:

Azure DNS

Launching today in public preview, Azure Domain Name System (DNS) 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. Please see the Azure DNS website for more details and start using the service today.

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, starting today we’re introducing 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. For more information, please visit the ExpressRoute Technical Overview documentation webpage.

User Defined Routing

With User Defined Routing becoming available today, you can now 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’. It will now be possible to run sophisticated network topologies in the cloud, which mirrors the setup in on-premises. Please see the documentation page to learn more and use this feature.

New Network Virtual Appliances

As we announced at the RSA Conference 2015, Network Virtual Appliances in Azure will include a slew of industry-leading appliances such as load balancers, WAN optimizers and network security appliances. We announced partnerships with industry leaders such as Cisco, Barracuda, Check Point, Fortinet, Websense, Palo Alto Networks, F5 and Alert Logic. This week, many of these solutions will be available in the Azure Marketplace. These solutions will give customers greater flexibility in building their applications along with a higher degree of control on the networking topologies.

Azure ExpressRoute and Site-to-Site VPN co-exist

Based on customer feedback, we’re introducing today 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. To learn more on using these gateways, please refer to the VPN documentation page.

New Standard VPN Gateway

Today, we’re also introducing a new VPN Gateway that allows you to connect your Virtual Network via both ExpressRoute and site-to-site VPN. It also provides higher throughput for ExpressRoute than the current dynamic routing VPN gateway. For more on the Standard VPN gateway as well as other VPN Gateways, please refer to the VPN documentation page.

Multiple Virtual IPs per Cloud Service

Starting today, you can 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 allow multiple SQL Server AlwaysOn Availability Group listeners access to the same set of VMs.

Azure Active Directory enhancements

We’re announcing the General Availability of Azure AD Cloud App Discovery, a capability of Azure AD Premium service that lets you identify cloud apps being used in your organization’s environment and helps reveal shadow IT. We’re also announcing the public preview of Azure AD Privileged Identity Management. A capability of Azure AD Premium, Privileged Identity Management enables you to discover, restrict and monitor privileged accounts and their access to resources but also enforce on-demand temporary administrative access when needed. Please refer to the Azure AD team blog to learn more about these announcements.

Disk Encryption for Linux and Windows Virtual Machines

At Ignite this week, we will be demonstrating a new capability that will let you encrypt all of your Virtual Machine disks including the boot and data disks. Disk encryption for VMs will work 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. We plan on making it available in the very near future and will have more details to share on the Azure blog at that time – please stay tuned for more!

Virtual Machine Scale Sets

Another new capability we will be demonstrating at Ignite is a feature called VM Scale sets, using which you will be able to do set-based operations such as create/delete/update on a group of identical VMs (e.g 1000’s of 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.

Please stay tuned into the Server and Cloud blog as well as the Official Microsoft Blog for all that’s happening at Ignite. And if you’re attending the Ignite conference, here’s to learning more, enjoying the company of your peers and feeling the passion that Microsoft’s technologies will bring to you!