Azure Updates from Microsoft: JEDI contract; Azure Dedicated Host; New Relic; Cloud Shell; Azure Service Health

August 13 2019

After suggestions from President Trump that the Department of the Defense may have intentionally favored Amazon in the bidding process, the $10 billion JEDI contract is being placed on hold, Politico reports. Competing bidder Oracle has campaigned hard against Amazon in the contracting process. With Amazon's lead in the bidding process now in question, Microsoft may have an opportunity to challenge its largest competitor for the major US government contract.

But for civilian customers, one of the biggest news updates from the first full week of August focused on other aspects of compliance.

Azure Compute principal program manager Ziv Rafalovich took the lead in announcing Azure Dedicated Host, which consolidates Windows and Linux VMs to a single-tenant physical server. Azure Hybrid Benefit is getting extended to Dedicated Hosts, offering users a cost-savings if they rely on on-prem SQL Server and Windows Server licenses. Dedicated Host can be setup within Azure portal and is intended to help address compliance. Additionally, for compliance the Azure Global team is publishing blueprint samples which include NIST SP-800-53 R4 control mappings for account management, duty separation, remote access, audit and review, denial of service protection and other functions.

The New Relic monitoring system added fresh integrations to Azure Database for MySQL, PostgreSQL and MariaDB, to draw together data from databases, containers and different servers. Users can view the three different database types in the New Relic One dashboard as well as run custom queries or set alert conditions. Azure Databricks is already integrated with Azure SQL Data Warehouse and Machine Learning, but, as of August 6, offers a pre-purchase plan with a 37 percent savings when users lock-in a one to three year term. Unlike per hour reserved capacity pricing, this model offers pre-purchased DBUs that can be used anytime. Simultaneously, the number of Databricks regions reached 26 with the addition of South Africa and South Korea.

For developers, the Azure Cloud Shell is now equipped with new tools, which include Puppet Bolt, an open source tool for automating workflows, HashiCorp Packer which automates machine image creation and Azure Functions CLI for debugging. Additionally, Azure CLI, Azure PowerShell and the Java Development Kit received small updates. Azure Compute program manager Alfred Sin hailed the availability of the Pacemaker open source resource management tool for compute clusters and let users know about RHEL Pay-As-You-Go images with the High Availability Add-On, available in Azure Marketplace, along with a similar model for images containing SAP packages.

Among geographic updates, NetApp Files is available in South East Asia, Australia East and Central US,  while Site Recovery became generally available in West India, both South Africa and UAE regions. M-series VMs are generally available in Brazil South and Media Services in both South Africa regions. In the US, Kubernetes Service is in preview for Azure Government. More broadly, Microsoft issued a series of small updates to make Azure AD authentication with AD domain services generally available, create VMs from older shared image versions and a preview of Geo and Redundant Storage, with three replicas spread across Availability Zones for added redundancy. Users also learned of Microsoft's plans to cut the price of Azure Archive Storage by up to 50 percent in some regions, add cross-tenant management in Azure Security Center with the release of Azure Lighthouse or remove easy tables and APIs from Azure App Service by November 11, owing to limited uptake.

Program manager Stephen Baron explained when to use Azure Service Health or the status page. Of the two services, the status page is older and more oriented toward notifying of outages or service issues and tends to look at an entire region and across all Azure services. At the bottom of the status page, users can actually redirect to Azure Service Health with a button that connects first to Azure portal. Service Health reports more individualized Azure service performance, as well as overall outages and upcoming maintenance. Service Health alerts serves to send out SMS, email, webhooks into internal ticketing systems or other push notifications.

In Australia, Japanese heavy equipment maker Komatsu is working to use Azure Managed Instance, along with AI and machine learning capabilities. Fugue and New Light Technologies have teamed up to extend security control analysis for both Azure and AWS.

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