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 420: 28th May 2023

It's an absolute beast this week. Microsoft BUILD was as epic as expected. As usual a great condensed summary of announcements can be found in the Book of News, and I'd recommend it as your first stop.

The big keynote announcements were all focused on OpenAI and Copilot, and how they are being integrated into every aspect of the Microsoft Product Portfolio. Prompt Engineering was getting a lot of love, and Prompt Flow looks very interesting. Microsoft Fabric, a unification of data products and an evolution of Azure Synapse; it was also unveiled as "data is the fuel that powers AI", and Fabric lower the barrier to entry and time to value. Fabric is an important foundational element as many organisations can only dream of harnessing AI once they've sorted out the chaos that is their data estate.

There's too much to cover for an editorial, so I'm going to highlight two session that I found really interesting; Azure Innovations with Mark Russinovitch, there's so much goodness in this session from Project Forge (formerly Singularity) to Hyperlight a new MicroVM technology like Firecracker. I also enjoyed Building AI solutions with Semantic Kernel, and this is top of my list of things I want to play with. The new Semantic Kernel VS Code extensions look useful.

There's 6 hours of Microsoft Fabric content split across two days in the launch event; Day 1 and Day 2. If that's too much of a time commitment for you, we've been on the private preview of Microsoft Fabric for the last 6 months and have published some useful content to share our insights; A landing page linking all our content, a Azure Radar page giving a high-level overview including Pros & Cons, a 20 minute perspectives on Microsoft Fabric discussion, a 10 minute Tour around Microsoft Fabric, and then several blog posts: An Introduction to Fabric, a detailed Azure Synapse Analytics versus Microsoft Fabric: A Side by Side Comparison, and a view on one of the killer features: What is OneLake?. I'm hoping that this is the last "new" data platform announcement for at least 5 years, as organisations tend to move slowly, and operate on roadmaps that are in the 5-10 year span, want to invest in a platform and then build value on top of it, rather than constantly having to re-invest in upgrading / migrating.

I've picked a few highlights from this edition: Generative AI for Developers: Exploring New Tools and APIs in Azure OpenAI Service, a fascinating insight into What runs ChatGPT Inside Microsoft's AI supercomputer Featuring Mark Russinovich, a feature I've been waiting for: Introducing jobs for Azure Container Apps, and an impressive announcement that seems to have slipped under the radar: Introducing the Azure Linux container host for AKS.

I'd like to thank Liam Mooney for the help putting together this epic edition.

Issue 419: 21st May 2023

A mix bag of announcements this week in the run up to the Microsoft BUILD conference. Starting with AI; Introducing LangChain Agents, a useful post on Scaling strategies for large scale Azure Cognitive Services deployments, and I found the following Microsoft Mechanics episode really interesting: How Microsoft 365 Copilot works - this is a useful insight on why prompt engineering is a new type of API layer.

In the cloud native space; Transforming containerized applications with Azure Container Storage - now in preview, and two posts on Securing your AKS Deployments: Microservice User Authentication using Azure AD and Oauth 2 Proxy and SSL Termination on NGINX ILB using Front Door and Private Link

In App Dev & DevOps; Use Azure PIM with groups in ASP.NET Core and a fascinating new feature: Microsoft Previews AI-Based Code Optimizations for .NET Apps, A nice guide demonstrating 3 Ways to Export Metrics from Azure Monitor for Unlimited Retention, and an item of note: Azure Storage updating some default security settings on new accounts - Aug 2023

Finally, in analytics: Data Transfer from Snowflake to Azure Blob using Synapse Analytics and Jessica Hill provides a deep dive into Notebooks in Azure Synapse Analytics

Issue 418: 14th May 2023

First off an interesting dive into MLOps - Taking an easy path using GitHub Actions and the Azure CLI. I'm getting an increasing number of question about OpenAI and how it can actually be put to use for an organisation - so it's good to start to see more practical examples appearing: Use OpenAI GPT with your Enterprise Data.

In the analytics space; there's a good post on Using Azure DevOps with Synapse Workspaces to create hot fixes in production environments and using Azure Data Explorer for Vector Similarity Search - which is very useful for text similarity analysis (something we use to help categorise articles this newsletter!).

In the cloud native space: a topic I'm very interested in - ACA vs AKS: Which Azure Service Is Better for Running Containers, also IPvlan with Docker in Azure. Workbooks (interactive notebooks) are still very underrated as a powerful tool for analysis and exploration: How to import and use community Azure Workbooks into your Azure environment, and finally, Migrating Azure Functions from JSDoc JavaScript to TypeScript.

Issue 417: 7th May 2023

A relatively quiet week (possibly because we're only a few weeks away from the Microsoft BUILD conference). A few interesting articles around storage: Increased remote storage performance with NVMe-enabled Ebsv5 VMs are now generally available, and How to Save 70% on File Data Costs, and another money saving approach: How To Deploy SFTP Service On Azure Container Apps, a Comprehensive Guide.

In DevOps: CI & CD With Azure Synapse Dedicated SQL Pool, and Create Azure Resources Programmatically By Executing Terraform Commands in Go. In Monitoring: Propagate OpenTelemetry Context via Azure Service Bus for Asynchronous .NET Services, and Monitoring Deadlocks in Azure SQL Managed Instance. In Kubenertes: Connect your AKS Edge Essentials cluster to Azure Arc, and Kubernetes External DNS for Azure DNS & AKS.

I wanted to highlight a useful tool by Ira Rainey: Beeching - The Azure Axe - a command line tool to help you quickly and easily delete Azure resources you no longer need. It can delete multiple resource types at the same time, based on a name, part of a name, or by tag value. Resources can be protected from the axe by specifying them in an exclusion list. This allows you to shield resources that you wish to keep.

Finally, I wanted to mention the passing of Carolyn Van Slyck. She was an important member of the Kubernetes community. She was maintainer for Porter and the Cloud Native Application Bundle (CNAB) Specification. She also ran Women Who Go, and was a tech lead for CNCF Contributor Strategy. She won the CNCF "top contributor" award in 2022. I was fortunate enough to interact with her due to her work on Porter when we worked on the Azure CNAB Quickstarts. She was also a great speaker. I found her GopherCon 2019 talk "Design Command-Line Tools People Love" inspiring, and highly recommend you give it a watch too. She will be missed.

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