• 6 min read

Last week in Azure: New Zone Redundant capabilities now in preview, and more

Last week in Azure, several announcements were made for capabilities now in public preview that build on Azure Availability Zones. In addition, new backup and update capabilities make it easier to manage and help protect your virtual machines. There's also a new, intuitive and simplified onboarding experience for Azure Site Recovery service for VMware to Azure.

Last week in Azure, several announcements were made for Zone Redundant capabilities now in public preview that build on Azure Availability Zones. In addition, new backup and update capabilities make it easier to manage and help protect your virtual machines. There's also a new, intuitive and simplified onboarding experience for Azure Site Recovery service for VMware to Azure.

Now in preview

Zone Redundant Virtual Machine Scale Sets now available in public preview – Zone Redundant Virtual Machine Scale Sets bring the scalability and ease of use of scale sets to availability zones by automatically spreading your virtual machines across availability zones. You don’t need to worry about distributing VMs across zones, choosing which VMs to remove when scaling in, etc.

Azure Zone Redundant Storage in public preview – Zone Redundant Storage (ZRS) greatly simplifies development of highly available applications by storing three replicas of your data in different Availability Zones, with inserts and updates to data being performed synchronously across these Availability Zones. This enables you to continue to read and write data even if the data in one of the Availability Zones is unavailable or unrecoverable. ZRS is built over Availability Zones in Azure which provide resilience against failures through fault-isolated groups of datacenters within a single region.

Cognitive Services – Availability of SDKs for the latest Bing Search APIs – Currently available as REST APIs, the Bing APIs v7 now have SDKs in four languages: C#, Java, Node.js, and Python. These SDKs include offerings such as Bing Web Search, Bing Image Search, Bing Custom Search, Bing News Search, Bing Video Search, Bing Entity Search, and Bing Spell Check.


CustomVision.AI: Code-free automated machine learning for image classification – Custom Vision Service is designed to build quality classifiers with very small training datasets, helping you build a classifier that is robust to differences in the items you are trying to recognize and that ignores the things you are not interested in. Now, you can easily add real time image classification to your mobile applications. Creating, updating, and exporting a compact model takes only minutes, making it easy to build and iteratively improve your application.

Azure Standard support now offers the highest value support for production workloads amongst major cloud providers – Azure now offers the most cost effective and predictable support offering amongst major cloud providers, including: a significant price drop to a fixed cost of $100 USD per month, so forecasted support costs are completely predictable; faster initial response time, now at 1 hour for critical cases; and continuing our current offering of unlimited 24×7 technical and billing support for your entire organization.

Compliance assessment reports for Azure Stack are now available – Coalfire, a Qualified Security Assessor (QSA) and independent auditing firm, has audited and evaluated Azure Stack Infrastructure against the technical controls of PCI-DSS and the CSA Cloud Control Matrix, and found that Azure Stack satisfies the applicable controls.

Announcing integration of Azure Backup into VM create experience – You now have the ability to protect the VMs with an enterprise-grade backup solution from the moment of VM creation. Azure Backup supports backup of wide variety of VMs offered by Azure including Windows or Linux, VMs on managed or unmanaged disks, premium or standard storage, encrypted or non-encrypted VMs, or a combination of the above.

Azure Search enterprise security: Data encryption and user-identity access control – Azure Search now supports encryption at rest for all incoming data indexed on or after January 24, 2018, in all regions and SKUs including shared (free) services. For existing content, you have to re-index to gain encryption. With this announcement, encryption now extends throughout the entire indexing pipeline – from connection, through transmission, and down to indexed data stored in Azure Search.

ITSM Connector for Azure is now generally available – IT Service Management Connector (ITSMC) for Azure provides bi-directional integration between Azure monitoring tools and your ITSM tools – ServiceNow, Provance, Cherwell, and System Center Service Manager.

Comprehensive monitoring for Azure Site Recovery now generally available – The comprehensive monitoring capabilities within Azure Site Recovery gives you full visibility into whether your business continuity objectives are being met. The new experience includes: an enhanced vault overview page, replication health model, failover readiness model, simplified troubleshooting experience, and in-depth anomaly detection tooling.

Start replicating in under 30 minutes using Azure Site Recovery's new onboarding experience – New this month in Azure Site Recovery: Open Virtualization Format (OVF) template-based configuration server deployment; a new intuitive infrastructure management experience; and a hassle-free mobility service deployment experience.

Accelerated Spark on GPU-enabled clusters in Azure – Azure now supports running Spark on a GPU-enabled cluster using the Azure Distributed Data Engineering Toolkit (AZTK). In a single command, AZTK allows you to provision on demand GPU-enabled Spark clusters on top of Azure Batch's infrastructure, helping you take your high performance implementations that are usually single-node only and distribute it across your Spark cluster.

Keeping your environment secure with Update Management – The Azure Update Management enables you to manage updates and patches for your machines. Quickly assess the status of available updates, schedule installation of required updates, and review deployment results to verify updates that apply successfully for machinesthat are Azure VMs, hosted by other cloud providers, or on premise.

Training & webinars

Serious about cloud security? Check out this new training on Azure Security Center – In Hybrid Cloud Workload Protection with Azure Security Center, a new course now available on Microsoft Virtual Academy, Yuri Diogenes and Ty Balascio offer an overview of Azure Security Center, including requirements, planning, onboarding, and troubleshooting. Ty and Yuri work with real-world data and share their experience in the industry to show how the threat landscape differs for a cloud or hybrid versus on-premises. And they explore threat detection and response in a lab environment so they can talk you through it.

Accelerate innovation with Microsoft Azure Databricks – Azure Databricks is a fast, easy and collaborative Apache® Spark™ based analytics platform optimized for Azure. With Azure Databricks, you can help your organization accelerate time to insights by providing a collaborative workspace and a high-performance analytics platform, all at the click of a button.

Launching the Azure Storage Solution showcase – This new webcast series showcases innovative technology partners who have built solutions on top of the Azure Storage infrastructure, such as: Commvault, NetApp, Veritas, and PEER Software.

Developer Spotlight: Serverless

Build apps faster with Azure Serverless – Azure Serverless platform provides a series of fully managed services ranging from compute, storage, database, orchestration, monitoring, analytics, intelligence, and so on to help construct serverless applications for any kind of scenario. In this blog post, Raman Sharma focuses on two pieces central to serverless application development, Azure Functions and Azure Logic Apps.

Azure Storage for Serverless .NET Apps in Minutes – In this blog post, Microsoft Cloud Developer Advocate Jeremy Likness walks through a simple application that creates a short code for a long URL to easily reference it.

Building event-driven applications using serverless architectures – Join us on Tuesday, February 13 for this live webinar on building event-driven applications using Azure Event Grid.

Azure Functions Introduction – This high-level overview of Azure Functions in the Azure docs will get you going on learning Azure Functions with a quick overview and links that will take you deeper into serverless development.

Serverless: The Future of Cloud Development – Download this free infographic for an overview of what Serverless has to offer.

Service updates

Azure shows

Corey Talks with Microsoft Solutions Providers: Datacom Systems, Hanu and New Signature – Corey Sanders, Director of Program Management on the Microsoft Azure Compute team sat down to introduce three videos we recorded back in December. Corey met and talked with cloud first Microsoft Solutions Providers about options for managed services and what they had to offer.



Spring Boot with VS Code and Azure – Xiaokai He stops by to show Donovan Brown the rich Java support within VS Code, a free and open source editor, as well as how you can easily deploy your Spring Boot application to Azure Web App for Containers.

Azure Notebooks – Shahrokh Mortazavi stops by to chat with Scott Hanselman about Azure Notebooks, a free hosted Python/R/F# REPL for learning to program all the way to mastering Data Science.

The Azure Podcast: Episode 213 – Azure Dev using Windows Subsystem for Linux – Tara Raj, a PM who has been on the show before, talks to us about her latest endeavor, the Windows Subsystem for Linux and how it can be used for various tasks including Azure Development!