TechEd 2014 - Microsoft Azure Recap

by Andrew Connell on May 18, 2014

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Date Revised:
May 18, 2014


Last week Karen Forster wrote about some of the Azure related news from TechEd 2014. There were quite a few Azure related things announced and updates provided last week at the conference and I wanted to add my thoughts to a few of the updates myself. Scott Guthrie, Executive VP for Microsoft Cloud & Enterprise, blogged about a lot of the updates we saw this past week in Houston at TechEd.

In both last week's and this week's episodes of the Microsoft Cloud Show Chris Johnson & I spoke about some of these updates in our recent I'm going to highlight a in this post and provide my thoughts: I'll break it down into the different offerings.

IaaS - Infrastructure as a Service

From my point of view, IaaS is a stop-gap for moving existing workloads off your own hardware to the cloud as the real goal of true cloud computing is going to reside in the PaaS (for developers) or SaaS (for businesses) model. That's not stopping Microsoft from adding a ton of goodness!

Added Support for Anti-Virus Support

You secure your desktops and servers with A/V and anti-malware software, so why not your Azure virtual machines? Now when you create a new VM you can use the existing agents & extensions to add one of three supported (by the specific vendors) A/V packages to your VM. Pick between Microsoft's Antimalware, Symantec's Endpoint Protection or Trend Micro Deep Security Agent.

Support for Capturing VMs

Ever create a VM that you want to use for developing and testing? The new snapshot capability lets you capture the VM into your own VM image library so you can easily create a new VM from this image in the future. This is ideal for dev and test scenarios!

Note that this snapshot has nothing to do with Hyper-V snapshots like you can do on-premises.

Improvements to Virtual Networks

Introduced in preview last week is a new capability for virtual networks. You can now create a virtual network between cloud services so VMs on different Azure subscriptions can be on the same private vLAN. Now you can connect your VMs and your client's VMs on the same private virtual network... that's pretty powerful!

For more information on the Azure Virtual Networking, check the MSDN documentation.

Internal IP Load Balancing

Prior to this announcement if you wanted to do any internal load balancing between your VMs you had to create a public load balancer and have the requests go through that… not exactly the fastest way to do things. With internal load balancing (ILB) you can do load balancing between your VMs that reside inside the cloud service or virtual network. This means you can load balance between your own VMs OR (and this is pretty big) between different cloud services such as between your VMs in the cloud and those connected via a virtual network that you have on-premises!

For more information on the new Azure Internal Load Balancing, check the MSDN documentation.

Reserved IPs for Azure Virtual Machines

This is huge… especially for those using VMs to host SharePoint farms. Announced last week is the ability to reserve a public IP for your Azure VM. This means that once you reserve an IP and assign it to a VM, it won't change until you decide to deallocate the IP… they will remain reserved & assigned to the VM even after you stop or deallocate the VM!

In the past you had to have a single VM running on your network all the time to ensure you don't lose the IP. All subscriptions get 5 reserved IPs for free and every additional reserved IP (used or unused) will cost $0.005/hr or about $4/month. You can remap the reserved IPs to different resources up to 100 times per month for free, but additional remaps over 100 will cost $0.10 each.

For more information on the new Azure Internal Load Balancing, check the MSDN documentation.

New Windows 7 & Windows 8.1 VM Images

Microsoft added VM image templates for client operating systems Windows 7 and Windows 8.1. Before you had to create these yourself.

PaaS - Platform as a Service

Now let's look at some of the cloud service updates and new announcements for the the PaaS offerings.

Azure API Management

This confused me for a minute when I saw the name... it isn't a new management API for Azure, it's new features and services in Azure for managing your own APIs. Say you are building an API for something. There's a lot of stuff you have to deal with. With this new service this can help you deal with scaling issues, throttling & quotas for your APIs and get deep analytics into who is using your APIs and how they are being used.

For more information on the new Azure API Management, check the Azure website.

Import / Export for Storage Blobs now General Availability

This service allows you to send via FedEx a hard drive to Microsoft and they will import it into your storage blobs. This option is awesome when you have a lot of data you need to load into Azure. This announcement moves this offering from preview to general availability.

New Azure File Service - SMB Shares for Azure VMs

A new service called Azure Files is now available (straight past preview and into GA!). This allows you to create SMB share that your Azure VMs can connect and share among each other. This is great for high performance computing workloads that needs to share lots of file based data or for apps that need to share settings between each other.

For more information on Azure Files, check the MSDN documentation.

New Azure Redis Cache Service

Talk about being more open, Microsoft took the open source Redis cache software and added a bunch of their cloud management code around it to provide full Azure support for this popular open source cache service!

For more information on the new Azure Redis Cache, check the MSDN documentation.