• 9 min read

A crazy amount of new Azure infrastructure announcements

Hi everyone. I am so excited to be writing this blog post outlining a plethora of announcements (did you say a plethora?) coming out of Orlando, Florida at Microsoft Ignite. This is such an amazing event to be able to connect with 20,000 of my closest friends and customers!

Hi everyone. I am so excited to be writing this blog post outlining a plethora of announcements (did you say a plethora?) coming out of Orlando, Florida at Microsoft Ignite. This is such an amazing event to be able to connect with 20,000 of my closest friends and customers! 

As I talk with many of you, I frequently am asked, “How can Azure infrastructure help me transform my business?” Whether you work at a gigantic enterprise company or are a small business owner, whether you are an IT administrator or a developer, whether you are creating a new application or migrating an existing app – we have built a cloud to give you the best infrastructure to run any and all your workloads (I blabbed about this in a previous post: key reasons to bet on Azure for your infrastructure needs). This means we offer a comprehensive portfolio of services to meet your needs that are hybrid by design, have built-in security & management, and are cost-effective whether running code for seconds or servers for years.

With that promise comes decades of experience working closely with you and your teams in the enterprise. To highlight just two of our enterprise customers – we are working with Walmart to further accelerate digital innovation in retail, capitalizing on the depth and breadth of Azure’s compute capacity. Our partnership with J.B. Hunt uses Azure to power J.B. Hunt 360°®, which enables J.B. Hunt to lead through fundamental change in the transportation industry and help expand its capabilities as an end-to-end shipping and logistics provider.

Beyond core infrastructure, we are also rapidly innovating with modern capabilities including unique serverless Kubernetes support, fast and easy Azure Functions, simple Web applications on App Service, IoT edge computing, transformative AI, data analytics, and much more.

Today, I have the pleasure to announce the latest innovation coming to Azure infrastructure, in three acts – Infrastructure for every workload, hybrid offerings, and security & management.

Infrastructure for every workload

To continue building on our promise to deliver the best infrastructure for every workload, today we are announcing several new capabilities.

GPU-enabled Virtual Machines

We are announcing the preview of two new N-series Virtual Machines with NVIDIA GPU capabilities. GPUs are ideal for compute and graphics-intensive workloads, and they have been helping you innovate through scenarios like high-end remote visualization, artificial intelligence, and predictive analytics.

NVv2 VMs (preview) – A new version of the NV-series designed to support powerful remote visualization workloads and other graphics-intensive applications. The new NVv2 VMs will feature NVIDIA GRID technology and NVIDIA Tesla M60 GPUs, up to 448GiB of RAM, and will support Premium SSDs. The NVv2 VMs are in preview now in US West, and US South Central.

NDv2 VMs (preview by end of year) – A new addition to the ND-series, NDv2 VMs focus on DL training and inferencing as well as machine learning. The new NDv2 will feature 8 NVIDIA Tesla V100 Tensor core GPUs interconnected via NVIDIA NVLink GPUs and 40 Intel Skylake cores aimed to deliver high quality results even faster. NDv2 VMs are expected to be in preview by the end of 2018.

For more information please refer to the engineering blog, or our website.

High-Performance Computing VMs

We are announcing two new H-series VMs for High-Performance Computing (HPC) scenarios. These new VMs are optimized for performance and cost, and are aimed at HPC workloads like fluid dynamics, structural mechanics, energy exploration, weather forecasting, risk analysis, and more.

HB VMs (preview by end of year) – These new VMs will feature 60 AMD EPYC cores and 240 GiB RAM. They have the highest amount of memory bandwidth (260GBps) in the public cloud. This is really valuable for calculations required in fluid dynamics and weather forecasting.

HC VMs (preview by end of year) – These VMs are optimized for computationally intensive workloads. The HC will feature up to 352 GiB RAM, 44 Intel Skylake cores with clock speeds up to 3.7 GHz, and will support Intel’s rich ecosystem of HPC software tools.

We plan to release these new H-series VMs in preview later in 2018. Learn more about H-series VMs.


To enable some of the networking needs we have heard from many of you, today we are announcing the general availability of Azure Firewall and Virtual WAN. We are also announcing the preview of Azure Front Door Service, ExpressRoute Global Reach, and ExpressRoute Direct.

Azure Firewall (GA) – Azure Firewall is a managed cloud-based network security service that protects your Azure Virtual Network resources. It is a fully stateful firewall with built-in high availability and cloud scalability. Check these links for documentation and pricing.

Virtual WAN (GA) – Virtual WAN provides a simple, unified, global connectivity, and security platform to deploy large-scale branch connectivity. You can utilize your favorite SDWAN and security technology vendor. Also, we now offer support for client-side connectivity using OpenVPN.

ExpressRoute Global Reach (preview) – ExpressRoute Global Reach connects your ExpressRoute circuits together so that on-premises locations can leverage Microsoft's global network to carry traffic. For example, if you have a datacenter in California connected via ExpressRoute and another in Texas connected via ExpressRoute, you can now have traffic traverse between the two datacenters using Microsoft's global network backbone. Azure is the only cloud to offer this and have one of the largest global networks in the world.

ExpressRoute Direct (preview) – ExpressRoute Direct provides the world’s fastest private edge connectivity to public cloud. ExpressRoute Direct allows you to connect directly to the global Microsoft backbone at up to 100Gbps speeds. With this, you can realize scenarios like massive data ingestion of storage, physical isolation, dedicated capacity, and high bandwidth burst capacity, utilizing Microsoft’s global backbone to access Azure resources and regions at tremendous scale.

Front Door Service (preview) – Front Door provides an ultra-scalable and secure entry point for your global web applications. Front Door Service offers a global anycast based network of POPs located close to end users. This provides an easy way to scale out your web application by using HTTP load balancing and path-based routing rules.

Disk storage 

We’re expanding the portfolio of Azure Disk offerings to help you deploy any app in Azure including those that are the most IO intensive.

Ultra SSDs (preview) – Ultra SSDs are a managed disks offering for your most demanding data-intensive workloads. Ultra SSDs deliver industry leading performance with sub-millisecond latency. You can choose sizes from 4GiB to 64 TiB, achieve optimal performance per disk even at low storage capacities, and achieve up to 160,000 IOPS (and 2 GB/s) on a single disk. This is significantly more IOPS than any other cloud offers. You can request access to the preview or for more information please refer to the blog.

Standard SSDs (GA) – Standard SSDs are a cost-effective disk offering optimized for low IOPS workloads that need consistent latency. Standard SSDs deliver better availability, reliability, and latency compared to HDD Disks, and are well suited for Web servers, low IOPS application servers, lightly used enterprise applications, and Dev/Test workloads. Read the engineering blog to learn more.

Larger managed disk sizes (preview) – Premium SSDs will now feature 32TiB storage capacity on a single disk and reach up to 20,000 IOPS and 750MBps in bandwidth. These new sizes will allow you to significantly expand storage capacity while simplifying management. Read the engineering blog for more details. 


As companies are turning to the cloud, on-premises datacenters still have an important role to play for global companies that face data sovereignty and regulatory requirements, have mission-critical systems that need to remain in local datacenters, or compliance needs that require keeping data on-premises or in-country. Microsoft understands this reality and has built the only consistent and comprehensive hybrid cloud. Today, we are announcing new hybrid capabilities to help you manage your data, create even more consistency, and secure your hybrid environment.

Azure Data Box Edge (preview) – Azure Data Box Edge is a physical appliance, shipped by Microsoft, that enables data movement to Azure while doing computation on the edge. Data Box Edge is equipped with AI-enabled edge computing capabilities that help you analyze, pre-process, and transform the on-premises data before uploading it to the cloud. More details on Data Box Edge can be found on the Data Box Edge blog.

Windows Server 2019 (GA in the coming weeks) – I am incredibly excited about the newest release of Windows Server 2019! Windows Server 2019 is an OS built truly for the cloud with hybrid management, Linux containers, and many more amazing features. You can find more details on this exciting release on the Windows Server 2019 blog.

Azure Stack – The combination of Azure and Azure Stack enables you choice and flexibility for deploying your applications. Today, we are announcing upcoming previews for Event Hubs, Blockchain templates, and Kubernetes on Azure Stack, all increasing consistency options for your hybrid needs. You can find more details on Azure Stack announcements on the blog.

Built-in security & management


Azure provides a secure foundation that includes security of our worldwide datacenters, infrastructure protection against attacks such as denial of service, and platform protections like just-in-time access. Today, we are announcing new services that expand Azure security controls and services to help you protect your network, applications, data, and identities. These services are enhanced by the unique intelligence that comes from the trillions of signals we collect in running first party services like Office 365 and Xbox.

Here are the newest service announcements in security and management:

Confidential Computing DC VM series (preview in the next few weeks) – In the next few weeks, we will release the preview of new VM sizes enabling Confidential computing along with an open SDK for development. The DC sizes will help protect data even when it is being processed in the CPU by enabling secure enclaves using Intel SGX technology. Microsoft is the first cloud provider to offer confidentiality and integrity of data while in use from malicious internal and external actors. With this release, we also have an open SDK to help you take advantage of this new level of cloud security.

Secure score, improved threat protection, and network map (preview) – Microsoft secure score makes it easier for you to understand your security position and potential risks in your environment. Azure Security Center now shows your secure score with clear recommendations on how to reduce risk and strengthen your security. We are also extending our threat protection capabilities to include Azure Storage, Azure Postgres SQL, and containers running on Linux VMs. Finally, we have added a new network map to help you visualize and get quick insights on network related vulnerabilities. You can find more details about these improvements in this blog.


Azure Blueprints and Azure Policy in Azure DevOps (preview) – Today, we are announcing the preview of Azure Blueprints. These blueprints make it incredibly easy for you to deploy and update Azure environments in a repeatable manner using composable artifacts such as policies, role-based access controls, and resource templates. This ensures you can configure your different environments to be compliant immediately after they are created. It also allows developers to be completely self-reliant in the creation of new environments. Furthermore, you can now include your Azure Policy definitions in the release management pipeline of Azure DevOps, ensuring that policy compliance is a part of shipping rather than considered after release. 

Azure cost management in the Azure portal (preview) – One year ago, we announced that Azure was the first cloud platform to provide free cost management capabilities to help you reduce your costs in the cloud. Today these capabilities are now integrated natively into the Azure portal for an improved experience. We are also providing an API so you can access cost management from PowerBI or directly from your own custom applications. Azure cost management in the Azure portal preview is available for EA customers today with all other customers on-boarding by the end of year.


Migration to the cloud can be challenging and complicated. Our goal is to deliver innovation to make this as easy and painless as possible. We recently announced support for Hyper-V assessments in Azure Migrate. We also announced GA of Azure SQL Database Managed Instance, which enables you to migrate SQL Servers to a fully managed Azure service. We also now support many new migration scenarios as part of the Azure Database Migration Service. Finally, we announced new sizes in the Azure Data Box Heavy (1 PB) is in preview and Azure Data Box (100 TB) is now GA. Learn more at the Azure migration center.

To help improve your migration experience, we are announcing that if you migrate Windows Server or SQL Server 2008/R2 to Azure, you will get three years of free extended security updates on those systems. This could save you some money when Windows Server and SQL Server 2008/ R2 end of support (EOS). If you combine the savings from with Azure Hybrid Benefit and Reserved Instances, running these servers on AWS will be 5 times more expensive than on Azure.

As I reflect on these announcements, I am really excited by what you will be able to do and build on Azure this next year!  Our goal with Azure is to enable you to do more in your business. To do that, we are building the very best cloud for your needs, offering infrastructure for every workload, hybrid capabilities unlike any other cloud, cost effective features, and built-in security and management. 

If you are at Ignite, please do engage with the product experts at the booths or hanging around. We can help you start your first infrastructure migration or work on your last application modernization project. I am looking forward to seeing you all in the cloud, whatever that looks like to you!

Also, if you are reading this, I am really impressed you finished my blog. I did say plethora…