Azure Review: VMware; Blob Storage; Azure Firewall; VNets; Database controls; Security features

March 7 2019

The end of February brought new hints at collaboration between Microsoft and former rivals, plus updates for security, storage and testing.

Symmetry, a hybrid cloud hosting provider announced a partnership with HDT Global to manage the migration of their SAP environment to Azure. And Kevin McLaughlin, writing in The Information, suggested that Microsoft and VMware are putting aside their traditional rivalry and are now jointly developing software that would allow customers using private clouds to migrate more resources to Azure. To date, VMware has also branched out its multi-cloud management approach to AWS and IBM Cloud.

Users have new options for disaster recovery with VMware VMs and physical machines, directly replicating to managed disks with Azure Site Recovery, rather than the previous method of managing multiple target storage accounts. Azure Backup Instant Restore now extends to Azure VMs, giving more flexibility to set retention ranges for snapshots of backup level policy and in-place restore capability.

Claus Joergensen, principal program manager for Azure Storage highlighted the public preview of Premium Blob Storage. The new performance tier is intended to complement existing Hot, Archive and Cool tiers, available with locally-redundant storage, High-Throughput Block Blobs, object tiering and higher data storage cost but lower transaction costs.

Microsoft MVP Aidan Finn, writing on his blog, made the case for choosing Azure Firewall instead of a third-party firewall network virtual appliance. He stated that except for CheckPoint and Palo Alto, most firewall vendors have very poor documentation for Azure and many describe deploying into a single VNet, even though most users able to buy a network virtual appliance will be splitting into multiple VNets. He argued that Azure Firewall offers greater simplicity, automatic scaling and more reliable logging and filtering.

Global VNet pairing is now available for all Azure Government regions and also supports Standard Load Balancer. The addition of Service Fabric Processor offers a new library to consume events from an Event Hub, manage partitions and do more complex load balancing.

Mary Jo Foley, writing in ZDNet, looked at how Azure and Windows engineering schedules appear to be aligning.

Azure Lab Services became generally available, letting users optimize costs, automatically manage Azure infrastructure and simplify the experience of lab users. Azure Log Analytics became available in new regions in Australia and Azure Availability Zones activated for the East US region. Kevin Lam, principal program manager for Azure Logic Apps wrote that the Integration Service Environment offers a fully isolated integrated environment, with direct access to VMs and servers, no risk of intermittent slowdowns and private storage.

Database teams can use Azure Database for PostgreSQL to store IoT event data in JSONB format, according to Shau Peng, senior program manager for Microsoft. Beginning on February 26, SQL Database Managed Instance lets users change database names with the Transact-SQL language.

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