Category Archives : Virtual Machines



Introducing backup for Azure file shares

Today, we are excited to announce the public preview of backup for Azure file shares. Azure Files is a cloud-first file share solution with support for industry standard SMB protocol. Through this preview, Azure Backup enables a native backup solution for Azure file shares, a key addition to the feature arsenal to enable enterprise adoption of Azure Files. Using Azure Backup, via Recovery Services vault, to protect your file shares is a straightforward way to secure your files and be assured that you can go back in time instantly.

Key features Discover unprotected file shares: Utilize the Recovery Services vault to discover all unprotected storage accounts and file shares within them. Backup multiple files at a time: You can back up at scale by selecting multiple file shares in a storage account and apply a common policy over them. Schedule and forget: Apply a Backup policy to automatically schedule backups for your file shares. You can schedule backups at a time of your choice and specify the desired retention period. Azure Backup takes care of pruning these backups once they expire. Instant restore: Since Azure Backup utilizes file share snapshots, you can restore just the files you need instantly



Cray in Azure for weather forecasting

When we announced our partnership with Cray, it was very exciting news. I received my undergraduate degree in meteorology, so my mind immediately went to how this could be a benefit to weather forecasting.

Weather modeling is an interesting use case. It requires a large number of cores with a low-latency interconnect, and it is very time sensitive. After all, what good is a one hour weather forecast if it takes 90 minutes to run? And weather is a very local phenomenon. In order to resolve smaller scale features without shrinking the domain or lengthening runtime, modelers must add more cores. A global weather model with a 0.5 degree grid spacing can require as many as 50,000 cores.

At that large of a scale, and with the performance required to be operationally useful, a Cray supercomputer is an excellent fit. But the model by itself doesn’t mean much. The model data needs to be processed to generate products. This is where Azure services come in.

Website images are one obvious product of weather models. Image generation programs require small scale and can be done in parallel, so they’re great for using the elasticity of Azure virtual machines. The same can



Protect machines using managed disks between Azure regions using Azure Site Recovery

We are happy to announce that Azure Site Recovery (ASR) now provides you the ability to setup Disaster Recovery (DR) for IaaS VMs using managed disks. With this feature, ASR fulfills an important requirement to become an all-encompassing DR solution for all of your production applications hosted on laaS VMs in Azure, including applications hosted on VMs with managed disks.

Managed disks provide several advantages including simplification of storage management and guaranteeing industry-leading durability and availability for disk storage. 

When you protect virtual machines on managed disks, Azure Site Recovery creates a replica managed disk in the target region corresponding to each managed disk of your production VM in the primary region. This replica disk acts as the data store for the source disk in the primary region, thus eliminating the need to create and manage multiple storage accounts in the target region to store data for your protected machines.

Let us look at an example of protecting a virtual machine with five managed disks. As shown below in Fig 1 and Fig 2,

You can enable protection for the Virtual machine via the virtual machine experience or through the recovery services vault experience.If you plan to use the virtual



Application consistent backup for Linux VMs using Azure Backup is generally available

We are excited to announce the general availability (GA) of application consistent backup for Linux VMs running in Azure using Azure Backup. We did a preview of this feature last year and customers are already using this framework for various applications like Oracle, MySQL, Mongo DB, SAP HANA, and PostGreSQL.

What is application consistent backup?

Application consistent backup ensures that the backed-up data is transactionally consistent, and that applications will boot up post VM restore. To ensure transactional consistency, applications need to be quiesced and there should be no unfinished transactions when taking a VM snapshot.

Windows has the Volume Snapshot Service (VSS) framework to ensure application consistent VM backup, but there is no such generic framework for Linux. With greater adoption of Azure Linux VMs, there is an increasing demand to backup critical enterprise applications running inside Azure VMs. We introduced a VSS-like generic framework for ensuring application consistent VM backup for Linux applications running on any Linux distribution. This framework gives you the flexibility to execute custom pre and post scripts as part of the VM backup process. These scripts can be used to quiesce application IOs while taking a VM snapshot that guarantees application consistency.




Microsoft offers SAP HANA supportable VMs in UK with the Azure M/B/V3-series

Microsoft becomes the first hyperscale cloud provider to offer SAP HANA supportable VMs in the UK.

Azure Virtual Machines (VMs) customers can now take advantage of the Azure M/V3/B-series of VM sizes available in the UK South region. We’re also excited to announce that Azure is the first hyperscale cloud provider to offer VMs optimized for large in-memory workloads such as SAP HANA in the UK.

New Azure M series – The Azure M-series is perfectly suited for your large in-memory workloads like SAP HANA and SQL Hekaton. With the M-series, these databases can load large datasets into memory and utilize fast memory access with massive virtual CPU (vCPU) parallel processing to speed up queries and enable real-time analytics.

Learn more about M-Series.


Size vCPU’s Memory (GiB) Local SSD (GiB) Max data disks M64s 64 1024 2048 32 M64ms 64 1792 2048 32 M128s 128 2048 4096 64 M128ms 128 3800 4096 64

New Azure B series – B-series VMs provide the lowest cost option for customers with flexible vCPU requirements. These are useful for workloads like web servers, small databases, and development or test environments where CPU utilization is low most of the time, but spikes for



Network Watcher Connection Troubleshoot now generally available

Azure Network Watcher Connection Troubleshoot, previously in preview as Connectivity Check, is making general availability sporting a new name. Connection Troubleshoot, part of our Network Watcher suite of networking tools and capabilities, enable you to troubleshoot network performance and connectivity issues in Azure.

Continuing the expansion of tools within Azure Network Watcher, this new addition provides visualization of the hop by hop path from source to destination, identifying issues that can potentially impact your network performance and connectivity.

Network Watcher Connection Troubleshoot features

With the addition of Connection Troubleshoot, Network Watcher will see an incremental increase in its capabilities and ways for you to utilize it in your day to day operations. You can now:

Check connectivity between source (VM) and destination (VM, URI, FQDN, IP Address) Identify configuration issues that are impacting reachability Provide all possible hop by hop paths from the source to destination Hop by hop latency Latency – min, max, and average between source and destination A topology (graphical) view from your source to destination Number of packets dropped during the connection troubleshoot check

Connectivity troubleshoot check graph view output Source: Azure VM and Destination:

What kind of issues can Connection Troubleshoot detect?




Accelerated Spark on GPU-enabled clusters in Azure

The ability to run Spark on a GPU enabled cluster demonstrates a unique convergence of big data and high-performance computing (HPC) technologies. In the past several years, we’ve seen the GPU market explode as companies all over the world integrate AI and other HPC workflows into their businesses. Tensorflow, a framework designed to utilize GPUs for numerical computation and neural networks has skyrocketed into popularity, a testament to the rise of AI and consequently the demand for GPUs. Simultaneously, the need for big data and powerful data processing engines has never been greater as hundreds of companies start to collect data in the petabyte range.

By providing infrastructure for high performance hardware such as GPUs with big data engines such as Spark, data scientists and data engineers can enable many scenarios that would otherwise be difficult to achieve.

Along with the recent release of our latest GPU SKUs, I’m excited to share that we now support running Spark on a GPU-enabled cluster using the Azure Distributed Data Engineering Toolkit (AZTK). In a single command, AZTK allows you to provision on demand GPU-enabled Spark clusters on top of Azure Batch’s infrastructure, helping you take your high performance implementations that are usually



Start replicating in under 30 minutes using Azure Site Recovery’s new onboarding experience

We on the Azure Site Recovery product team are consistently striving to simplify the business continuity and disaster recovery to Azure solutions for our customers. With the latest release of the Azure Site Recovery service for VMware to Azure, we bring a new, intuitive and simplified getting started experience, which gets you setup and ready to replicate virtual machines in less than 30 minutes!

What is new? Open Virtualization Format (OVF) template-based configuration server deployment

Open Virtualization Format (OVF) template is an industry standard software distribution model for virtual machine templates. Starting January 2018, configuration server for the VMware to Azure scenario will be available to all our customers as an OVF template.

With the OVF template, we ensure that all the necessary software, except MySQL Server 5.7.20 and VMware PowerCLI 6.0, is pre-installed in the virtual machine template, and once the template is deployed in your vCenter Server, the configuration sever can be registered with the Azure Site Recovery services in less than 15 minutes.

Here is a quick video that walks you through the new onboarding experience.

Read more on how to deploy the configuration server template to your VMware vCenter Server / ESXi host.

New intuitive



Comprehensive monitoring for Azure Site Recovery now generally available

Azure Site Recovery is a vital part of the business continuity strategy of many Azure customers. Customers rely on Azure Site Recovery to protect their mission critical IT systems, maintain compliance, and ensure that their businesses aren’t impacted adversely in the event of a disaster.

Operationalizing a business continuity plan and making sure that it meets your organization’s business continuity objectives is complex. The only way to know if the plan works is by performing periodic tests. Even with periodic tests, you can never be certain that it will work seamlessly the next time around due to variables such as configuration drift and resource availability, among others.

Monitoring for something as critical should not to be so difficult. The comprehensive monitoring capabilities within Azure Site Recovery gives you full visibility into whether your business continuity objectives are being met. Not just that, with a failover readiness model that monitors resource availability and suggests configurations based on best practices, it also helps inform how prepared you are to react to a disaster today.

So, what is new in this experience?

Enhanced vault overview page: The new vault overview page features a dashboard that presents everything you need to know to



Zone Redundant Virtual Machine Scale Sets now available in public preview

In September 2017 we introduced Azure Availability Zones, enabling resiliency and high availability for mission-critical workloads running on Azure. Today, we are excited to announce the public preview of Zone Redundant Virtual Machine Scale Sets, bringing the scalability and ease of use of scale sets to availability zones.

Deploying your infrastructure across zones has never been easier. You just specify the availability zones you would like to use for your scale set. It’s as simples as:

az vmss create -n <name> -l <location> –image <image-name> -g <resource-group-name> –zones 1 2 3

With Zone Redundant Virtual Machine Scale Sets, your Virtual Machines are automatically spread across availability zones. You don’t need to worry about distributing VMs across zones, choosing which VMs to remove when scaling in, etc. Zone Redundant Virtual Machine Scale Sets support the same capabilities as Regional Virtual Machine Scale Sets, including but not limited to:

Azure Autoscale Azure Virtual Machine Extensions Marketplace and Custom Images Attached Data Disks Azure Application Gateway Azure Load Balancer Standard

Please note that during preview, some of these capabilities might not be fully zone redundant.

With scale sets, it’s easy to build big compute, big data, and containerized workloads. With zones it’s