Azure Review: Azure Service Health; New Machine Learning GPU; ISO 27001 blueprint; AzCopy; VNets; Stitch Data Loader

March 20 2019

Microsoft brokered new partnerships for services in Azure and rolled out a variety of security and database features, as well as expanding the geographic availability of some services in the second week of March.

Automation vendor, Packet, premiered its Packet Connect service to automate interconnects with Azure for both IoT and cloud apps, using APIs. Meanwhile, in Houston, Maana announced a partnership with Microsoft's Manufacturing and Resources division to integrate its Knowledge Platform with Azure to help oil and gas companies carry out digital transformation. The Azure integrated version of the platform is intended to support modeling of business operations such as drilling, production and refining as well as offer a "visual authoring environment" for decision makers. Kaleido, a blockchain company, launched its Blockchain Business Cloud on the Azure Marketplace. The ethereum based SaaS offering originally deployed on AWS in 2018 and offers Quorum and Geth protocol packages along with RAFT, IBFT and POA consensus algorithms.

CNBC reported that Microsoft publicly distanced itself from Chinese facial recognition provider, SenseNets, which is allegedly being used by the Chinese government to track the Uyghur Muslim minority. Microsoft stated that SenseNets is falsely claiming on its website to be a Microsoft Azure partner.

The introduction of Azure Service Health is intended to give more rapid notice of incidents than the well-known Azure status page. According to Microsoft, Service Health details planned maintenance, service issues and health advisories, like usage quota overruns, misconfigurations and pending service retirements, which will be announced 12 months in advance.

Support for NVIDIA RAPIDS GPUs was added to Azure Machine Learning to cut training times for advanced machine learning applications. A master Jupyter Notebook uses the Machine Learning SDK to create workspaces, resource groups, clusters and preconfigured environments. For containerized projects, Microsoft added a cluster autoscaler, in preview, for Kubernetes Service intended to run apps without downtime.

With the goal of compliance in mind, Microsoft built the ISO 27001 Shared Services blueprint sample to map Azure infrastructure, to keep track of policies and virtual networks. The Azure Blueprints service, as a whole, is free for users.

Arlan Nugara, writing on Arlan Blogs, shared insights on using Azure CDN. In one blog, he demonstrated how to add HTTP rules, using the Rules Engine found within the manage tab of the CDN profile, before adding a custom domain for a CDN endpoint in a second blog. Dan Thom, writing on the Kloud Blog, kicked off an explanation about Azure Policy, a service that lets users create rules to modify or create an Azure resource.

According to Thom, there isn't a one-to-one between aliases:

Something we can use across all Azure resources in Policy, are fields. One of the fields we can use, is the tag on a resource. So, what we can do here is report compliance status to the Azure Policy dashboard not based on the actual compliance status of the resource, but based on whether or not is has a certain tag applied to it – that is to say, a resource can be deemed compliant or non-compliant based on whether or not it has a tag of a certain value – then, we can use something out of band to evaluate the resources compliance and apply the compliance tag.

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