Category Archives : Virtual Machines



Avere vFXT for Azure for HPC workloads now generally available

We are very excited to share the general availability (GA) of Avere vFXT for Azure. This culminates months of effort beginning when Microsoft welcomed Avere to the Azure family earlier this year. Customers can now leverage the Avere vFXT to run their high-performance applications in Azure.

The scope of Microsoft Azure’s solutions for high-performance computing (HPC) continues to broaden with Avere vFXT being the latest product to transition from testing to general availability. Avere joins a stellar portfolio of products like Azure Virtual Machines, Azure Batch, Azure CycleCloud, and networking technologies such as Azure ExpressRoute, that helps bring these demanding projects into the cloud without sacrifices.

Since public preview began in late August 2018, customers across the globe have moved new workloads to Azure using our high-performance file caching technology. The Avere vFXT has been deployed at scale, providing data access at very low latency, no matter where the file data originated. The Avere vFXT is deployed as a set of Azure Virtual Machines, adjacent to your cloud-based HPC cluster. The software runs as a cluster of VMs, enabling very high scale and throughput capacity for compute clusters of any size. Sources of storage can also connect into the Avere




Azure Update Management: A year of great updates
Azure Update Management: A year of great updates

Azure Update Management is a service included as part of your Azure Subscription that enables you to assess your update status across your environment and manage your Windows and Linux server patching from a single pane of glass, both for on-premises and Azure.

Update Management is available at no additional cost (you only pay for log data stored in the Azure Log Analytics service) and can easily be enabled on Azure and on-premises VMs. To try it, simply navigate to your VM tab in Azure and enable Update management on one or more of your machines.

Over the past year we’ve been listening to your feedback and bringing powerful new capabilities to Azure Update Management. Here’s a look at some of the new features we have developed with your help.


One of the biggest asks from the community this year is for more flexibility in targeting update deployments, specifically support for groups with dynamic membership. Instead of specifying a static set of machines when you create an update deployment, groups allow you to specify a query that will be evaluated each time an update deployment occurs.

We have released a preview feature that enables you to create an Azure-native




Approve, audit support access requests to VMs using Customer Lockbox for Azure

As a cloud service provider, we understand the importance of maintaining the integrity and confidentiality of customer data. To continue to help you maximize your data security and privacy, we are announcing Customer Lockbox for Microsoft Azure. It is a service integrated into Azure portal that gives you explicit control in the very rare instance when a Microsoft Support Engineer may need access to your data to resolve an issue.

There are very few instances, such as a debugging remote access issue, where a Microsoft Support Engineer requires elevated permissions to resolve this issue. In such cases, Microsoft engineers use just-in-time access service that provides limited, time-bound authorization with access limited to the service. While Microsoft has always obtained customer consent for access, Customer Lockbox now gives customers the ability to review and approve or deny such requests from Azure Portal. Until the request is approved, Microsoft Support Engineer will not be granted access.

The entire process is audited so customers maintain full visibility and control. All Customer Lockbox activity will be available in Azure Portal. If you are using Azure Security Center, the VM agent that you have installed on your virtual machines can provide logs on activities




Reservations now available for US Government cloud regions

Reservations are now generally available for US government Azure customers. Reservations are available for virtual machines, SQL Server and Cosmos DB for US Government and US DoD Azure regions.

Reservations can help you save money on workloads that have consistent usage, providing price predictability to support your budgeting and forecasting needs. Also, reservations provide unprecedented flexibility should your business need change. We’ve made it easy to exchange your reservations and make changes including the ability to modify your region, sizes or term. Unlike other cloud providers, you can cancel reservations at any time and get a refund. Reservations are available in the following Azure Government regions: US Gov Arizona, US Gov Texas, US Gov Virginia, US DoD Central, and US DoD East.

Azure is the cost-effective cloud for Windows Server workloads

If you are a Windows Server customer with Software Assurance or a Windows Server Subscription, you can combine reservations with the Azure Hybrid Benefit for significant savings. In particular, if you are running Windows Server 2008, Azure offers the most cost-effective approach to running in the cloud.

With Azure Reserved VM Instances and Azure Hybrid Benefit, Azure is the most cost-effective public cloud to run your Windows Server




Ephemeral OS Disk in limited preview
Ephemeral OS Disk in limited preview

Last week at Microsoft Ignite, we launched Ultra SSD, a new industry leading high-performance disk type for IO intensive workloads. Adding to that, today we are delighted to share the limited preview of Ephemeral OS Disk, a new type of OS disk created directly on the host node, providing local disk performance and faster boot/reset time.

Ephemeral OS Disk is supported for all virtual machines (VM) and virtual machine scale sets (VMSS). This offering is based on your feedback to provide a lower cost, higher performant OS disk for stateless applications, which enable them to quickly deploy the VMs and reset them to its original state.

Ephemeral OS Disk is ideal for stateless workloads that require consistent read/write latency to OS disk, as well as frequent reimage operations to reset the VM(s) to the original state. This includes workloads such as website applications, game server hosting services, VM pools, computation, jobs and more. Ephemeral OS Disk also works well for workloads that are leveraging low-priority VM scale sets.

Key comparisons between Persistent OS disk and Ephemeral OS disk   Persistent OS Disk Ephemeral OS Disk Size limit for OS disk 2 TiB

Up to 30 GiB for preview





Announcing private preview of Azure VM Image Builder

Today I am excited to announce the private preview of Azure VM Image Builder, a service which allows users to have an image building pipeline in Azure. Creating standardized virtual machine (VM) images allow organizations to migrate to the cloud and ensure consistency in the deployments. Users commonly want VMs to include predefined security and configuration settings as well as application software they own. However, setting up your own image build pipeline would require infrastructure and setup. With Azure VM Image Builder, you can take an ISO or Azure Marketplace image and start creating your own golden images in a few steps.

How it works

Azure VM Image Builder lets you start with either a Linux-based Azure Marketplace VM or Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) ISO and begin to add your own customizations. Your customizations can be added in the form of a shell script, and because the VM Image Builder is built on HashiCorp Packer, you can also import your existing Packer shell provisioner scripts. As the last step, you specify where you would like your images hosted, either in the Azure Shared Image Gallery or as an Azure Managed Image. See below for a quick video on how




Rich insights for virtual machines from Azure Monitor
Rich insights for virtual machines from Azure Monitor

At Ignite we announced the public preview of Azure Monitor for VMs, a new capability that provides an in-depth view of VM health, performance trends, and dependencies. You can access Azure Monitor for VMs from the Azure VM resource blade to view details about a single VM, from Azure Monitor to understand compute issues at scale, and from the Resource Group blade to understand whether all the VMs in a common deployment are behaving as you expect.

Azure Monitor for VMs brings together key monitoring data about your Windows and Linux VMs, allowing you to:

Monitor the health and availability of VMs, with customizable alert thresholds Troubleshoot guest-level performance issues and understand trends in VM resource utilization Determine whether back-end VM dependencies are connected properly, and which clients of a VM may be affected by any issues the VM is having Discover VM hotspots at scale based on resource utilization, connection metrics, health signals and alerts Health

Health capabilities in Azure Monitor for VMs include out of the box configurable VM Health criteria that are powered by the same health modeling services used internally across Microsoft.

Health gives you powerful views to VM availability signals, including how many VMs are




Move Managed Disks and VMs now available
Move Managed Disks and VMs now available

We are encouraged by the response to the introduction of Managed Disks. Since the announcement, we’ve seen many customers take advantage of this new way to manage persistent storage for their Virtual Machines. Here are some of the benefits Managed Disks provides:

The ability to scale your application without worrying about storage account limits Achieve high-availability across your compute and storage resources with aligned fault domains Create VM Scale Sets with up to 1,000 instances Integrate disks, snapshots, and images as first-class resources into your architecture Secure your disks, snapshots, and images through Azure Role Based Access Control (RBAC)

To read more about the benefits of Managed Disks, see Azure Managed Disks Overview.

We’re constantly improving the Managed Disks platform and working to bring new features to market based on customer feedback including:

Managed Disks migration in the Azure Portal OS Disk Swap for Managed Virtual Machines

Another feature I’m excited to announce today is the availability of moving Managed Disks and VMs across resource groups and subscriptions with a single click. This also enables you to move Managed Images and Snapshots.

Get started

To use this capability, you’ll need register for the feature using the PowerShell or CLI instructions




Announcing Azure user experience improvements at Ignite 2018

Hello Azure friends! Today we are proud to share a new set of improvements to the Azure user experience. The changes included in this blog post are only a subset of the multiple improvements that we are delivering in this release. All these changes have been motivated by the great feedback that you have been giving us so please keep the feedback coming!

Azure user experience refresh

We’ve introduced modern design updates to refresh the look and feel of the portal to increase productivity, improve accessibility, and make better use of your screen real estate.

These updates have been carefully designed to address the feedback that you have been giving us. Some key improvements include:

Improved information density and better use of screen real estate (e.g. vertical menus fit more items). Simplified visuals that reduce clutter, remove unnecessary lines/decorations, and create better flow between different areas in the UI. More intuitive organization of information. Better highlighting of key navigational elements like global search and breadcrumbs. Improved accessibility, updated colors that improve contrast ratios, and subtle updates that align our fonts across the portal. Support for usage over long periods of time (avoid eye-strain).

We’ve made these design updates without changing




Microsoft Azure, the cloud for high performance computing

Today, we continue to see customers leveraging Azure to push through new frontiers in high performance and accelerated computing. From Neuroiniative’s quest to accelerate drug discovery for Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases to EFS’s building of self-driving car technologies, a vast number of customers are leveraging Azure for breakthrough innovation.

We continue to invest to deliver the broadest range of Accelerated and high-performance computing (HPC) capabilities in the public cloud. From InfiniBand-enabled Virtual Machine families for artificial intelligence and HPC, to Hyperscale services like Cray supercomputing, to FPGA-based AI inferencing services in the cloud and edge, Azure enables customers to deliver the full spectrum of AI and machine learning applications.

Azure CycleCloud – the simplest way to execute HPC on Azure

We are excited to announce the general availability of Azure CycleCloud, a tool for creating, managing, operating, and optimizing HPC clusters of any scale in Azure.

With Azure CycleCloud, we are making it even easier for everyone to deploy, use, and optimize HPC burst, hybrid, or cloud-only clusters. For users running traditional HPC clusters, using schedulers including SLURM, PBS Pro, Grid Engine, LSF, HPC Pack, or HTCondor, this will be the easiest way to get clusters up and running in