Microsoft Rolling Out New Azure Management Capabilities

Microsoft announced some Azure management developments this week, including a new feature release, plus a few previews.

The announcements were associated with Azure Log Analytics, Azure Network Watcher, Azure Monitor and Azure Blob Storage. First off, Microsoft announced the "general availability" (GA) release of the Container Monitoring management feature for Azure Log Analytics, which is now available via the Azure Marketplace.

Container Monitoring in Azure Log Analytics
Container technology uses operating system virtualization to reduce conflicts between applications. Azure Log Analytics, on the other hand, is a service that tracks computing operations, both on premises and in public cloud infrastructures, and is part of Microsoft's Operations Management Suite of tools aimed at managing public cloud workloads. The Container Monitoring feature addition to Azure Log Analytics provides information about containers running on Azure, specifically those that support "Kubernetes, Docker Swarm, Mesos DC/OS, and Service Fabric container orchestrators on multiple OS platforms," according to Microsoft's announcement.

Container Monitoring shows information about container hosts and provides an audit trail. It lets organizations see when containers are "consuming excess resources on a host," and shows overall "CPU, memory, storage and network usage." With the GA release, Microsoft added the ability of Container Monitoring to use search filters on "custom pod labels and Kubernetes cluster hierarchies" and also to show the "container process status." However, those two new capabilities just work with Linux workloads right now. Windows support will be "coming soon," Microsoft indicated.

Connectivity Check in Azure Network Watcher
Microsoft this week announced a preview of a new Connectivity Check feature in Azure Network Watcher, which is Microsoft's service for "scenario-based monitoring" of Azure network resource interactions. Azure Network Watcher provides an overall view of network resources, including "packet capture, next hop, IP flow verify, security group view, [and] NSG [network security group] flow logs," according to Microsoft's "Overview" document.

The Connectivity Check feature in Azure Network Watcher is designed for checking virtual machine network connection scenarios. It provides information as to "whether a connectivity issue is due to a platform or a potential user configuration," Microsoft's announcement explained. The new Connectivity Check preview is accessible via the Azure Portal. It also can be invoked using the Azure command-line interface or PowerShell. Microsoft also enables it through a REST API.

Azure Monitor Enhancements
Azure Monitor is a tool for monitoring Azure services, with activity and diagnostic log reports, a dashboard for metrics and alerts. This week, Microsoft announced that two new capabilities were added to the tool, although both are currently at the preview stage.

One new feature is the ability to "create multiple resource diagnostic settings per resource." A resource diagnostic setting is a rule that can be set for a particular Azure resource. It determines what information gets collected. Microsoft previously just permitted one setting per resource, but that restriction limited where the information could get sent. For instance, security and monitoring teams couldn't get the same information. With the preview, Microsoft permits "a maximum of three diagnostic settings per resource." There's one caveat, though.

"Note that routing data to an additional destination of the same type will incur a service fee per our billing information," Microsoft's announcement explained.

The second new Azure Monitor feature in preview helps organizations with multiple Azure subscriptions. They can now write the monitoring data across subscriptions. Previously, such information had to stay "within the same subscription as the resource emitting data." The old approach was considered "tedious" for organizations to manage, Microsoft explained.

Azure Blob Storage Additions
Organizations typically use Azure Blob Storage to store data that isn't accessed very much, such as employee records. Microsoft currently has a Cool Blob Storage offering for such infrequently accessed data. This week, Microsoft announced previews of a new "Archive Blob Storage" offering, plus a "Blob-Level Tiering" capability.

The Archive Blob Storage preview offering is a "low-cost means of delivering durable, highly available, secure cloud storage for rarely accessed data," according to Microsoft's announcement. It has Hot and Cool data storage options, plus some flexibility in specifying data-access latency requirements.

The Blob-Level Tiering preview is an option for Azure Blob Storage accounts. It permits organizations to "change the access tier of a blob among the Hot, Cool, or Archive tiers." It's possible for all three tiers to "coexist within the same account," as well.

Users wanting to test the Azure Blob Storage previews have to submit a request to Microsoft, which can take two days to get approved. Microsoft also is charging "reduced" costs during the preview phase.

The preview capabilities appear to be confined to locally redundant storage in the U.S. East 2 Azure region right now. Blobs with snapshots won't get Blob-Level Tiering support, Microsoft's announcement added. Organizations can use .NET or Node.js client libraries, but Python client library use is at the preview stage right now. The use of a Java client library is coming next week. The previews also support the use of a REST API.

Azure Analysis Services Gateway Support
Last week, Microsoft announced that its Azure Analysis Services now has support for a shared gateway used on the customer's premises. This gateway, called the "On-Premises Data Gateway," is used to support the use of Microsoft Flow, Logic Apps, PowerApps and Power BI services. Organizations typically might use the On-Premises Data Gateway when they want to secure data locally that's used with those services.

While Azure Analysis Services does have analytical capabilities, it's primarily described by Microsoft as a platform-as-a-service facility to support its services. It lets users "mash up and combine data from multiple sources, define metrics and secure your data," according to a Microsoft document description.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.


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