Azure Weekly

Your weekly Azure news fix

Azure Weekly is a summary of the week's top news to help you build on the Microsoft Azure Platform.

From AI to Availability Zones, it aims to keep you on top of the latest Azure developments.

Issue 376: 26th June 2022

Quite a busy edition this week, with a mixed bag of updates. Firstly Microsoft has announced some Responsible AI investments and safeguards for facial recognition. John Reilly continues to blog his journey exploring ACA and Dapr in Azure Container Apps: dapr pubsub.

There are two interesting posts around Identity worth highlighting: 8 Best Practices for Azure AD Roles and How are you faring in your Zero-Trust Journey A look at Zero Trust assessment tools.

Two interesting IoT posts: How FPGA and cloud technology can reduce our climate impact, and a nice addition that may make adoption simpler for those who don't want to use C/C++ Previewing Rust on Azure Sphere.

There are two useful tips blog posts about Azure API Management: My 10 favorite Azure API Management Tips and Tricks and Use different rate-limiting options in Azure API Management for business and non-business hours. And Azure Static Web Apps gains new New API backend options in Azure Static Web Apps, including Azure Container Apps, APIM and App Service!

Finally an excellent real-world example from Tom Peplow,  Principal & Director of Product Development at Milliman (note: they were one of endjin's first customers), of how something as minor as changing a Virtual Machine SKU in Azure can have a million dollar impact, and why robust DevOps processes are so important:

"We found that our results changed when we moved to a different virtual machine (VM) type due to the non-associative nature of floating-point arithmetic. This change was a controlled change. We found the difference in a test run of our model. We knew precisely what changed, so we dug in and found that the new architecture of the Gen 4 Haswell processor used FMA3. This caused a difference in the tail of the double precision floating point, but the number was big and thus the change was material (millions of dollars). Thankfully, once we understood this, the impact of the processor architecture, we flipped the _set_FMA_enable(0) switch. This fixed the change in results (at a small performance penalty), and the issue went away. While we did all this investigation, and it was not an insignificant lift, our customers were quite safely using the trusted legacy machines."

Issue 375: 19th June 2022

A relatively quite week; the highlights are: Orca Security Discloses How It Breached Azure Synapse Customer Accounts, See how dynamic concurrency works in Azure Function App with a simple test, and a very interesting direction to align Container Apps with Docker Compose semantics: Accelerating Azure Container Apps with the Azure CLI and Compose Files.

The fully native Arm64 version of Visual Studio is now available in preview. A very handy workbook helping you to identify Azure Orphan Resources has been released. There were a slew of new networking features released this week, the following articles demonstrated how to simplify and centralize network security management with Azure Firewall Manager, and the following series shows how to Deploy Azure Application Gateway - Part 1: Intro And Basic Deployment. An interesting read is this piece of thought leadership around Industrial dataOps capabilities to truly scale Simulation Digital Twins.

Issue 374: 12th June 2022

After a week off because of the extended bank-holiday Jubilee celebrations in the UK, we're back with an edition that covers the last two weeks. There are two interesting announcements in the Identity Space:Introducing Microsoft Entra - modern identity and access solutions, and Dynamic Groups Enhancement Now at Preview for Azure Active Directory Users.

There are three interesting articles around dev tooling: Chaos engineering to improve application resiliency using Azure Chaos Studio, a nice dive into Guided Hunting Notebook: Azure Resource Explorer and Visual Studio Code Tools for Azure Revamped.

I was pleased to see this announcement, as the existing limit has hit a number of our bigger customers: Public Preview: Create additional 5000 Azure Storage accounts within your Subscription

In the web space, Azure Static Web Apps CLI is now GA general availability and there's an interesting article about Efficient OAuth Authorisation Management in Azure API Management.

Finally, there's a nice round-up about all the current container offerings on Azure: Azure Container Hosting Demystified - 2022 Edition

Issue 373: 29th May 2022

A bumper edition this week (about 2x the normal size!), covering all the announcements from BUILD 2022. Jumping straight in, the biggest announcement IMHO is that Azure Container Apps has reached General Availability; this took me by surprise, as I thought it was at least another 6 months out, but I couldn't be happier. From my own perspective, we finally have a flexible serverless, consumption based Azure PaaS service for hosting different .NET workloads; and feels like a spiritual successor to Cloud Web and Worker Roles, with higher compute density and many other bells and whistles. Although we span out Power BI content into the Power BI Weekly Newsletter - this feature is such an important one, that I decided to include it here; Announcing the public preview of Datamarts in Power BI, which is also covered in more detail on Microsoft Mechanics: Add Data at Scale Datamarts in PowerBI. Many of our customers struggle with the "last mile" of self-service (BI or Semantic Models), and this will go along way to solving that problem.

Another service announcement that took me by surprise was "Service Connector": Connecting services has never been so easy with Service Connector – now Generally Available. I'm also exceedingly excited to hear about the private preview of port tunneling in Visual Studio for ASP.NET Core projects; over the last decade whenever I've been working on projects involving 3rd party services such as Twilio, or IOT projects, I've had to use a paid-for 3rd Party Service in order to enable a local development experience. I'm so glad this is going to be built into Visual Studio, initially to enable PowerPlatform debugging.

Two interesting announcements in the Developer Tools space are: Introducing Azure Deployment Environments and Introducing Microsoft Dev Box - which is a new dedicated service for development workstations in Azure, with "lab management" type features for managing these resources at scale within an org.

Improvements to AAD were also announced: Review and remove AAD inactive users in Public Preview, and while Azure Container Apps stole the limelight, significant investments into AKS have also been made, some of the most interesting ones are highlighted in this post: Dapr, ML, GitOps Extensions GA on AKS.

Lots has been happening with SQL Server: Ledger now generally available in Azure SQL Database (who needs blockchain?), the Public preview of Azure Synapse Link for SQL mean you can now connect your transactional workloads to your analytical store; and the Azure SQL Database External REST Endpoints Integration Early Adoption Program was also announced.

There are so many other announcements, but I'll leave you to review the relevant categories below. But there were two other articles that I thought were particularly interesting, and I wanted to highlight them in case they were drowned out by all the other BUILD announcements. Generating and Visualizing H3 (Geospatial) Indexed Data with Kusto and Python, and because we've also been building out our own Backstage infrastructure at endjin, this was a particularly timely article: An Introduction to Running and Deploying Backstage on Azure.

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