Azure Container Instances with Linux Support Hits Public Preview, More in Cloud

ACI delivering containers with great simplicity and speed and without any Virtual Machine infrastructure to manage, more cloud releases.

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Deploying containers become even easier more now with Microsoft announces a new cloud service called Azure Container Instances (ACI), Wednesday, that enables users to deliver containers with simplicity and speed – and without any Virtual Machine infrastructure to manage.

Container Instances are available in public preview for Linux containers, today, while Windows container support will be available in the coming weeks, says the Azure team.

The new service can be deploy using Azure CLI or using a template, furthermore, you can quickly and easily deploy from a public repository, like Docker Hub, or pull from your own private repository using the Azure Container Registry. Each container deployed is securely isolated from other customers using proven virtualization technology.

For those not aware, "An ACI is a single container that starts in seconds and is billed by the second. ACI offer highly versatile sizing, allowing you to select the exact amount of memory separate from the exact count of vCPUs, so your application perfectly fits on the infrastructure. Your containers won't be billed for a second longer than is required and won't use a GB more than is needed."

See the demonstration of the ACI Connector in action below:

Azure Container Instances (ACI)

Here is a sample CLI command that will deploy to ACI through Azure Cloud Shell. For step by step instructions, refer to ACI quickstart:

Azure CLI command shell

Microsoft has also joined today, the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) as a Platinum member.

"CNCF is a Collaborative Project of the Linux Foundation (that Microsoft joined last year) which hosts and provides governance for a wide range of projects including Kubernetes, Prometheus, OpenTracing, Fluentd, Linkerd, containerd, Helm, gRPC, and many others."

New capabilities alongwith pricing tiers for Azure App Service through "App Service Isolated," is now generally available today, brings the simplicity of multi-tenant AAS to secure, dedicated and virtual networks powered by App Service Environment (ASE).

Also Wednesday, Azure App Service announced public preview of a premium V2 tier. It features Dv2-series virtual machines with faster processors, SSD storage and twice the memory-to-core ratio compared to the previous compute iteration.

The following are the web worker sizes available with Premium V2:

  • Small (1 CPU core, 3.5 GiB memory)
  • Medium (2 CPU cores, 7 GiB memory)
  • Large (4 CPU core, 14 GiB memory)

ASE gives customers network isolation, enhanced control and increased scale options, and through the update that come with App Service Isolated let you run apps in your dedicated virtual networks with better scale and performance through an intuitive user experience.

Azure App Service is Microsoft's leading PaaS (Platform as a Service) offering, hosting more than 1 million external apps and sites. It helps you build, deploy and scale web, mobile and API apps instantly without worrying about the underlying infrastructure.

Azure App Service Premium V2 Plan
Azure App Service Premium V2 Plans

Partners and customer can learn more about how to get started and set up here, and also check out this video:

Also, Microsoft has announced the following cloud services enahcements.

A new set of validated Windows Server software defined datacenter solutions from partners are now available including DataON, Fujitsu, HPE, Lenovo, QCT, and Supermicro.

These hyper-converged solutions make it faster and easier to deploy software-defined compute, storage, and networking in your datacenter.

In addition to providing validated hardware solutions that meet the Microsoft reference architecture, these partners offer deployment services and one-stop technical support.

Partners offer three kinds of Windows Server Softer Defined solutions:

  • Hyper-Converged Infrastructure (HCI) Standard. Highly virtualized compute and storage are combined in the same server-node cluster, making them easier to deploy, manage, and scale.
  • Hyper-Converged Infrastructure (HCI) Premium. Comprehensive "software-defined datacenter in a box" adds software-defined networking and security features to HCI Standard.
  • Software-Defined Storage (SDS). Built on server-node clusters, this enterprise-grade, shared-storage solution replaces traditional external storage devices at a much lower cost, while support for all-flash NVMe drives delivers unrivaled performance.

Azure Virtual Machines expands its availability with L and G-series virtual machines additions to the US West 2 and UK South reaches general availability.

These powerful VMs which offer up to 32 cores using Intel Xeon processors, support RAM configurations that can exceed 256 GB and Solid State Disk (SSD) sizes of 5 TB or more, are purpose built to provide the best performance for several categories of database (DB) workloads.

L series VMs are especially suited for storage intensive workloads like NoSQL databases (Cassandra, MongoDB, etc.) that require high performance at low latency. L series VMs can support up to 256 GB of RAM and 5.6 GB of local SSD drive storage.

G series VMs can support up to 448 GB of RAM and 6 GB of SSD storage. G series VMs provide a high performance foundation for DB workloads. like SQL Server and SAP HANA, that require high compute performance and large amounts of RAM to support in-memory database operation.

Azure Cosmos DB | Service Organization Controls (SOC) compliance reaches general availability. The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) has developed the SOC framework, a standard for controls that safeguard the confidentiality and privacy of information stored and processed in the cloud.

This aligns with the International Standard on Assurance Engagements (ISAE), the reporting standard for international service organizations. Teams applying for SOC go through a vigorous 6-month audit process and continue to maintain the status thereafter.

The first SOC audit for Azure Cosmos DB started in October 2016 and is now complete, achieving a SOC 1, 2, and 3 compliant status.

Azure HDInsight available in additional regions including Korea south and Central hits the general availability, is a fully managed cloud Hadoop offering that provides open-source analytic clusters for Spark, Hive, MapReduce, HBase, Storm, Kafka, and R Server backed by a 99.9 percent service-level agreement (SLA).

New and most frequently requested Power BI Desktop features are now available to business analysts in generall including:

  • Responsive layout for visuals preview—which change dynamically to display the maximum amount of data and insight, no matter the screen size.
  • Custom visuals store integration with Power BI Desktop. Right from the Home ribbon, you can open the store, browse visuals, and add them to your Desktop. This makes it much easier to find new visuals and use them in your reports. All the custom visuals that are listed in the Office store are available directly from the Desktop.
  • Quick measures from the community along with its DAX are now available through Quick Measures Gallery. And, two of those measures are now integrated into —Star Rating and Concatenated List of Values.

You can download the latest Power BI Desktop to experience the new features immediately.

Power BI service, generally available now to end users and business analysts include:

Responsive visualizations that change dynamically to display the maximum amount of data and insight, no matter the screen size.

Email subscriptions for dashboards preview—Power BI dashboards pull together reports, images, Excel workbooks, and more, to provide a 360-degree view of your organization in a single pane of glass. Now you can set up a dashboard subscription in seconds, and that same pane of glass can be delivered to your inbox every day. Keeping tabs on your critical data has never been easier.

Interactive R custom visuals support—R custom visuals can now also be interactive by generating HTML as the visual (instead of the static image that was supported until now). R custom visuals are capable of supporting tooltips and selections. See this blog for more information. Sign in to powerbi.microsoft.com to experience the new features immediately.

The first Release Candidate of SQL Server 2017 is now available on Windows, Linux, and Docker.

Azure Service Fabric Container feature upgrades its capabilities to orchestrate and work with containers in the new release.

"Besides container pruning and security updates (RunAs user accounts and certificate handling), also introduced an ability to use individually assigned IP addresses to containers in the cluster, enabling easier deployment of multiple web endpoints, without coordination of port assignment or resolution."

Azure Service Fabric now also supports reliable services to be deployed and run in containers as a preview.

Azure Service Bus's Hybrid Connections features is now available to the public in the US Government Cloud.

Azure Relay let's you securely expose services inside a corporate network to the cloud, without opening a firewall connection or changing the corporate network. Hybrid Connections uses open standard web sockets to make this possible. You can keep your data where it is, while enabling access from the cloud or anywhere.

Benefits

  • Uses HTTPS and WebSockets to securely connect resources.
  • Leverages the robust management and monitoring features of Azure Relay.
  • No need for changes in your VPN, Firewall, or Proxy.

Pricing information is found on the Service Bus page here.

Microsoft announced enhancements now including Network Policy Server (NPS) extension for Azure Multi-Factor Authentication reaches general availability, is a key component in our strategy to move customers to cloud-based Multi-Factor Authentication.

Microsoft Advanced Threat Analytics (ATA) releases version 1.8 hits general availability, is Microsoft's User and Entity Behavioral Analytics (UEBA) solution, that helps customers protect over 10 million users, as well as 21 million devices worldwide.

With new attack detections and behavioral analytics enhancements in every release, our engineering team is continuously working to innovate and to help you detect attackers before they cause any damage.

In version 1.8, some great improvements such as existing detection enhancements, as well as a new WannaCry Ransomware detection are added, along with infrastructure improvements such as single sign on, automatic events collection from the lightweight gateway, and some major ATA Center performance enhancements.

Additionally, there are some improvements to the overall user experience.

If you haven't already, go ahead and try out Microsoft Advanced Threat Analytics and download the evaluation bits.

Lastly, Microsoft Cloud App Security releases an update with new discovery enhancements, security dashboard, ley you now:

  • Customize the cloud app catalog by overriding the risk assessment for the discovered software as a service (SaaS) apps and adding custom notes and tags.
  • Automatically sanction and block discovered apps with new app detection policies.
  • Manage all security extensions to Cloud App Security through security dashboard security extensions to Cloud App Security, including API token management, SIEM agents and External DLP connectors.
  • Connect Cloud App Security to third party DLP vendors (i.e. Symantec, Vontu) and scan the contents of cloud apps using existing deployments running in your environment (this feature is in preview).
  • Apply Cloud App Security file labels to provide more insight into the files the DLP scans.
  • Initiate an immediate remediation action requiring users to sign in again to all Office365 and Azure Active Directory apps when a suspicious activity is identified.

For more information regarding this release, please visit the technical documentation page.

Update 07/28: The latest episode of "Microsoft Mechanics" reveals how Azure Site Recovery helps keep your applications available – including how to set up replication for your on-premises apps to Microsoft Azure.

The video also looks at how to test that these solutions work in the event of a disaster and that they meet compliance needs.

Azure Site Recovery (ASR) is a service that allows you to failover on-premises applications running on Linux and Windows and using VMware and Hyper-V to Azure in the event of an outage.

Update 07/29: Microsoft Azure recently completes a new ISO and Cloud Security Alliance (CSA) audits, leads industry in compliance coverage with expanding its certification portfolio.

  • That means Azure leads the industry with the most comprehensive compliance coverage, enabling customers to meet a wide range of regulatory obligations.

    "Having a program with industry-leading depth and coverage specific to ISO is exponentially useful to our customers globally as ISO standards provide baselines for information security management that are relied upon … across regulated industries and markets worldwide," writes Alice Rison.

    A combination of ISO and CSA certifications exist in all four Azure clouds, and coverage is now newly expanded across the following clouds:

    Microsoft Azure ISO and CSA certifications

    Also, the PowerApps and Power BI can now play together, as you can now using the new Power BI tile control, can show your Power BI tiles inside your app.

    "Power BI is a powerful analysis and visualization tool. PowerApps is great at enabling people to take action on the web and mobile. Now you can build apps that give users great insight and let them act right away. Same place, same time."

    Power BI tiles inside app
    Power BI tiles inside app
  • Microsoft is also atively working to improve the performance of its Bing and cloud services across Azure platform using "Field-programmable Gate Arrays" (FPGAs), that are custom configured chips.

    More recently, Microsoft has added FPGAs to all of its Azure servers in its own datacenters, as well as implementing FPGAs in some of the machines that power Bing's indexing servers as part of its Project Catapult efforts. Microsoft's Azure Accelerated Networking service, which is generally available for Windows and in preview for Linux, also makes use of FPGAs under the covers.

    The company also plans to make this available to developers along with intensive artificial-intelligence ones, like deep-neural-networking (DNN), by early next year.

    Also, at Build 2017, outlining its delivery plans for "Hardware Microservices" via Azure cloud, Mark Russinovich told attendees, that once Microsoft solves some lingering security and other issues, "we will have what we consider to be a fully configurable cloud." "This is the core of an AI cloud," he said, adding, and "a major step toward democratizing AI with the power of FPGA."

    Also, the company has begun testing artificial intelligence (AI) powered search for its Photos app, which is already available to rival Google Photos app.

    The updated Photos app version 2017.35063.13610.0 has rolled out to some Windows Insiders Release Preview ring, providing them with intelligent search capability for the images stored in its OneDrive.

    The new search functionality uses a cloud-based image recognition algorithm to index images into groups based on different items inside the pictures including people's faces, making users able to search based on colors, objects, and other items. Moreover, the AI-powered search also suggests photo albums based on different tags recognized in the pictures.

    While the indexing is being done, the search area fills up with pictures of people recognized along with suggested tags. Once completed, the indexing is then stored locally for rapid searches.

    Furthermore, those uncomfortable with facial recognition capability, can easily turn it off by going into the apps' settings.