Azure Review: African data centers; Catching up to AWS; Security and storage changes

March 13 2019

Microsoft started March by inaugurating its first data centers in Africa, in Johannesburg and Cape Town, with plans to deliver Azure, Office 365, and Dynamics 365. The rollout is the product of extensive infrastructure investments in Africa, as Microsoft extends its network to South Africa, Egypt, Kenya, Nigeria and soon Angola.

Findings from the RightScale 2019 State of the Cloud report suggest that while AWS continues to be the largest cloud service, Microsoft is growing rapidly. In fact, the AWS fell from 64 to 61 percent market share in 2019, while Azure surged from 45 to 52 percent of the market.

In India, Ernst and Young has teamed up with Robotic Process Automation (RPA) provider Blue Prism to offer an Azure-hosted RPA offering for the Indian market.  In the US, vArmour deployed its Conform API cloud security system for Azure, targeting heavily regulated industries.

A new workload feature for Azure Databricks called Data Engineering Light that "enables customers to run batch applications on managed Apache Spark". The feature is intended for "light" resources that don't need to scale. The update is accompanied by MLflow, an open source framework to manage machine learning lifecycle, recording the parameters of experiments or packaging ML code.

Arlan Nugara, writing in Arlan Blogs, stated that it's possible to host a static website with a custom domain and SSL access using the Azure CDN and Azure Blob Storage, with a monthly cost of only a few cents. Users will have to set up a GPv2 storage account, with the domain and SSL provided through an endpoint to the storage account from Azure CDN. The website must consume less than one gigabyte of storage.

Aidan Finn, writing on his blog, detailed how to lockdown network access to a subnet with an Azure Web Application Gateway. His process involves setting up a Network Security Group and associating it with the subnet, create inbound rules to regulate app traffic and setting a low priority rule to allow a port from Azure Load Balancer to tag the CIDR address of the gateway.

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