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January News Roundup: What's New with Azure?

Hello Cloud Gurus! Wondering what’s changed with Azure this month? We’ve written an article with everything you need to know to keep in the loop.

Jun 20, 2023 • 6 Minute Read

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Hello Cloud Gurus! Wondering what’s changed with Azure over the last month, but haven’t had the time to check the headlines? We’ve written an article with everything you need to know to keep in the loop.

New Windows Core OS platform blog

While Windows Vista might have had a mixed reception, its server-based sibling Windows Server 2008, included one of the most important Windows Server features ever. 

Which feature is that?

Hyper-V, of course! Hyper-V is Microsoft’s virtualization platform, more commonly referred to as a Hypervisor. For anyone that isn’t familiar, a Hypervisor allows you to run multiple virtual machines on a single physical server. 

Microsoft recently confirmed that all Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Platform as a Service (Platform as a Service) services including Virtual Machines, Web Apps, Azure Functions, and more all run on Hyper-V in a blog post on their new Windows Platform OS Blog

In the post, they detail the Azure Host Operating System, named Cloud Host, which is based on Windows and Hyper-V, but purpose built to be really good at running Virtual Machines. Which is kinda important for a public cloud!

It’s an interesting read, there is even a screenshot of Cloud Host running on an Azure host with 16 physical processors. Imagine how much serverless code you could run on that server!

Extended security updates on Azure

If your company, like many others, still have workloads running on older versions of Windows Server, it’s probably important for you to know that Microsoft will let you run older versions of Windows Server on Azure or Azure Stack and receive extended security updates for free.

For anyone thinking, surely no one is STILL running Windows Server 2008...think again! Windows 7 market share is still estimated to be about 11%. There are servers hidden away everywhere running older versions of Windows.

For Windows Server 2008, 2008 R2, and Windows 7 on Azure, extended security updates ended on January 10. If you don’t want your company making news headlines for all the wrong reasons, it’s now past time to migrate those workloads to something more modern.

There are plenty of options, you can migrate to a newer version of Windows Server, or maybe there is a Software as a Service (SaaS) solution that can replace your aging app. Or maybe the functionality can be replicated in a Platform As a Service offering like Azure App Service.

We know how hard it can be to migrate or upgrade these workloads, see what you can do, and good luck getting those workloads migrated or decommissioned. Everything you do to help maintain the security of your customer’s data is worth the effort.

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Azure Automation Visual Studio Code extension

Microsoft announced the release of the Azure Automation Visual Studio Code extension in preview.

For anyone that isn’t aware, Azure Automation is an underrated Azure service that lets you (among other things) automate your hybrid computing woes away through Runbooks. Wayne Hoggett went into some detail about why he loves Azure Automation in a recent ACG blog post.

The Visual Studio Code extension for Azure Automation allows you to not only create, test, debug, and manage Azure Automation Runbooks, but it also lets you manage all the associated assets that make Runbooks so useful, like schedules, variables, and credentials right from Visual Studio code.

If you’re an ACG subscriber and you’re interested in learning more about Azure Automation, we have a couple of brand new Hands-on Labs where you can learn how to Automate Hybrid Processes or Configure Update Management Using Azure Automation.

General availability of Azure OpenAI Service

General availability of the OpenAI service was announced this week. While the announcement had the usual sprinkling of marketing buzzwords, it did also state that AI integration is coming to everything across Azure, including security, reliability, compliance, data privacy, and built-in Responsible AI capabilities. Yes, AI is being embraced big time on the Azure platform, and Microsoft is not holding back. AI is going to be the accelerator for cloud services and solutions in the very near future. Is it perfect? No, of course not, but it will improve rapidly.

Azure Machine Learning updates

If you want to see how the AI cookie is made, then Azure Machine Learning is the place. And this month a bunch of new features entered both preview and GA. A few highlights: 

  • The ability to build an end-to-end model training pipeline without needing to write any code. This is in line with a move to more and more services that require less and less code.  
  • Compare different pipelines to debug failure: You can now save debugging time with new insight into why a specific pipeline may have failed. There is also a feature to identify problematic nodes for debugging.  
  • You can now secure the ingress and egress of managed online endpoints to ensure compliance with enterprise security standards. 
  • And finally, you can now add, view, update, and/or delete customized tags on your workspaces and computes to gain deeper insights into cost patterns, spend patterns, and governance scenarios.  

There's even more new features than just the above, so to check them all out go visit the general availability updates, or the preview announcements.

Want to keep on top of Azure News each week?

Azure This Week is your weekly news roundup for all things Azure. Join our expert hosts as they cover everything you need to know about the past week’s developments, keeping it short, fun and informative. 

Whether you’re just beginning your cloud journey, or you know your stuff, there’s something for everyone!