Azure Updates: Sentinel general availability; Windows Virtual Desktop; SWIFT; Storage Explorer; Cosmos DB, Middle East partners

October 1 2019

As September came to a close, the Azure team announced the much anticipated general availability of Azure Sentinel. During the service's preview over the past few months, over 12,000 customers and partners carried out trials with the next-generation SIEM. Now, in general availability, users will be able to choose from over 100 built-in alert rules or create custom ones with an alert wizard. Alerts kick off based on a single criteria or matching up indicators from multiple different datasets. Microsoft is currently previewing two additional Machine Learning-based alerts to detect anomalies. Hunting queries, Jupyter Notebooks, and python libraries help to support overall monitoring, 400 of which are housed in GitHub.

The Sentinel release wasn't the only nod to security. The team also highlighted one-click Azure Security Center recommendation remediation, updated adaptive application controls, or strict Server Name Indication enforcement with Verizon for Azure CDN.  Additionally, Microsoft notified users about Azure Sphere update 19.09, which calls for new OTA configurations, free data transfers between Azure Services and Front Door through December 1 and a few different API changes for API Management.

Six months after its preview in March, Windows Virtual Desktop is generally available worldwide, providing scalable Azure virtualizations across Windows 7, Windows Server and Windows 10. The team has worked closely with partners to support the roll-out and suggests that customers set up VMs and explore potential 80 percent cost savings with Azure VM Reserved Instances.  

At last week's SIBOS conference in London, Microsoft was keen to demonstrate its support for SWIFT Cloud Connect for financial services. It touted existing test payments with BNY Mellon. Microsoft Treasury integrated to a backend SAP system with Logic Apps allowing SWIFT to process transactions.

Microsoft is previewing incremental snapshots for managed disks. They differ from current snapshots, which bill for the entire size of a disk, instead billing based on delta changes for disk since the last snapshot. Managed disk storage defaults to cheapest disk option, offering zone redundant storage and users are encouraged to use custom images on standard storage in the Shared Image Gallery. The new snapshots "live on" even when their parent managed disk gets deleted and support instantaneous access. Incremental snapshots are enabled with Compute REST API, CLI, .NET SDK or PowerShell SDK.

Incremental snapshots align with a renewed focus on disk support. Visual Studio program manager Catherine Wang explained the release of Storage Explorer 1.10.0. The new version adds support for managed disks, leveraging AzCopy v10 to rapidly move data from on-prem as well as more centralized user interface. Over the coming months, Microsoft plans to make AzCopy the default transfer engine for Blobs and ultimately File Shares, while offering more localizations in different languages.

For users looking to register self-installations of SQL Server on Azure VMs, Resource Provider offers a new way to enable auto-patching, monitoring, management and auto-backup. The database team added automatic recommendations for Cosmos DB users which shows notifications through Azure portal or Azure Advisor related to partitioning, network security, indexing or migrating containers. Cosmos DB users will also be able to make use of built-in Jupyter Notebooks, which include a collection of APIs and data models ranging from Gremlin and Spark to SQL, Cassandra and MongoDB. These are helpful for running interactive queries, visualizing data or training models, while remaining developer friendly.

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