Azure Updates: Backup Explorer; Safe deployments; Zero trust; Blockchain; US Navy

February 11 2020

Microsoft forged into February with a slate of small announcements and more details on its process for making updates work correctly. The team kept up the focus on a zero trust architecture and a partner put Azure to work for the US Navy.

Program manager Aditya Balaji announced the preview of Backup Explorer. Until recently, users have often leaned on Recovery Services vaults to get a sense of their data, policies, jobs and alerts. Backup Explorer is intended to go further for expanding "data estates," integrating with Workbooks and Resource Graph. According to Balaji, it provides enhanced drilldowns, support for multi-tenancy for concurrent users of Azure Lighthouse and rapid troubleshooting.

In geographic updates, DNS private zones are available in Azure Government and China regions, while FastTrack now supports Asia-Pacific regions. Expanding its regionalizations, Cognitive Services Text Analytics sentiment analysis v3 supports Korean. The spring Cosmos DB SDK 2.2.2 release is available. OpenAPI v3 supports API Management, new IoT Central pricing plans are out, managed identity applies to lab VMs in DevTest Labs and API Management integrates with App Service.

A series of small updates touched data and development, including machine-learning based anomaly detection and the MATCH_RECOGNIZE function for Stream Analytics and read-only variables for DevOps. Additionally, Data Factory offers schema import and custom sink ordering, the latest Service Fabric 7.0 refresh is out and Event Grid is in-preview for IoT Edge.

Following on the heels of recent Hyperledger Fabric announcements, Microsoft indicated that Hyperledger Fabric options for configuring blockchain networks on Azure Kubernetes Service are growing with the preview of the Azure Marketplace template. The module helps with rapid configurations. Along similar lines, the team announced general availability of the Azure Blockchain development kit for Ethereum, which uses an extension of Visual Studio Code. It is intended to aid in compiling, testing and managing smart contract code.

Microsoft CTO Mark Russinovich put out a blog looking at safe deployment practices. When the Azure team plans for update deployments they work to assume that an unseen problem could scupper the deployment and plan accordingly, putting in place automated mitigation actions. This all fits into an overall safe deployment practice framework. Developers start out modifying code, testing it and then pushing it to staging environments. An intermediate integration environment is often shared by teams focused on networking, compute or storage, running stress tests on the code. From there, Early Update Access Program regions, better known as "canary regions," are up next. They are made up of two regions, one with Availability Zones in place. If things work out in the canary region, it's on to pilot phase, pushing incrementally to more and more zones if things work out properly. He wrote:

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