Microsoft Azure, being a constantly evolving, updating and changing environment. Sometimes this makes it difficult to follow all that happens around it. I will try to condense some of the announcements based on status – generally available, preview or update features.
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Unleashing the Power of AI: Highlights from Microsoft Build (May 23rd – 25th, 2023)
This year has already witnessed significant milestones in the industry. In January, Microsoft extended its partnership with OpenAI, accelerating AI breakthroughs and ensuring widespread access to its benefits. In February, the company unveiled an AI-powered Bing search engine and Edge browser, reshaping the world’s largest software category – search.
Since then, the pace of progress has escalated, marked by several noteworthy achievements:
- Azure OpenAI Service: Enhanced support for ChatGPT and OpenAI’s groundbreaking GPT-4 model, expanding the availability of AI capabilities.
- Copilots: Dynamics 365 Copilot, Microsoft 365 Copilot, and Copilot for Power Platform, empowering users with AI assistance in various domains.
- AI-powered Bing Expansion: Windows 11 taskbar, mobile, Skype integration; Bing Image Creator integration into chat; and open preview availability.
This is merely the beginning of the AI era, making Microsoft Build a crucial event. Here, we showcase how AI is redefining the developer landscape and transforming the future of work.
Before diving into the exciting news, two vital concepts take center stage at Microsoft Build: copilots and plugins.
Copilots are applications utilizing cutting-edge AI and large language models like GPT-4 to assist users with complex tasks. GitHub Copilot, introduced two years ago, revolutionized code writing for developers. Now, copilots are expanding their reach across Microsoft’s core businesses, ushering in a new era of AI-powered software development that revolutionizes product scenarios, user experiences, architecture, services, and safety considerations.
Plugins, initially introduced for ChatGPT and Bing, enhance AI systems’ capabilities by enabling interaction with APIs from various software and services. These plugins retrieve real-time information, incorporate business data, perform advanced computations, and safely execute actions on behalf of users. They bridge the gap between copilots and the vast digital world beyond.
With these concepts in mind, let’s explore the exciting news and announcements that await us at Microsoft Build.
As the AI revolution unfolds, Microsoft Build serves as a platform to showcase the incredible potential of AI and its transformative impact on the world of technology. Stay tuned for groundbreaking developments and innovative solutions that pave the way for a future powered by AI.
Additional information:Microsoft Build 2023 Book of News
Microsoft Build 2023 Highlights
Watch Microsoft Build keynotes and view videos and photos
Microsoft outlines framework for building AI apps and copilots; expands AI plugin ecosystem
Bing at Microsoft Build 2023: Continuing the Transformation of Search
Empowering every developer with plugins for Microsoft 365 Copilot
Bringing the power of AI to Windows 11 – unlocking a new era of productivity for customers and developers with Windows Copilot and Dev Home
Build next-generation, AI-powered applications on Microsoft Azure
Introducing Microsoft Fabric: Data analytics for the era of AI
General Availability Announcements
Azure Event Hubs Dedicated self-serve scalable clusters for mission critical
Run you mission critical Kafka, AMQP and HTTPS event streaming workloads with consistent low latency.
Additional information:Generally available: Azure Event Hubs Dedicated self-serve scalable clusters for mission critical Kafka, AMQP and HTTPs workloads | Azure updates | Microsoft Azure
Overview of Azure Event Hubs Dedicated tier – Azure Event Hubs | Microsoft Learn
Azure Backup Server V4
This is the latest upgrade for Microsoft Azure Backup Server (MABS). Azure Backup Server can now be installed on Windows Server 2022 with SQL Server 2022 as its database. MABS V4 brings key enhancements in the areas of workload support, performance and security.
Additional information:Generally Available: Azure Backup Server V4 | Azure updates | Microsoft Azure
What’s new in Microsoft Azure Backup Server – Azure Backup | Microsoft Learn
Inbound ICMPv4 pings are now supported on Azure Load Balancer
Standard Public Load Balancer now supports inbound ICMP pings on IPv4 frontends. Previously, to determine reachability of a Load Balancer’s frontend, a TCP-based ping tool like Psping would need to be used.
Additional information:General availability: Inbound ICMPv4 pings are now supported on Azure Load Balancer | Azure updates | Microsoft Azure
Testing reachability of Azure Load Balancer frontend IPv4 address with ping | Microsoft Learn
AzAcSnap 8 — Azure Application Consistent Snapshot tool updates
AzAcSnap 8 introduces the following new capabilities and improvements:
- Restore change – ability to revert volume for Azure NetApp Files
- New global settings file (
.azacsnaprc) to control behavior of azacsnap
- Logging enhancements for failure cases and new “mainlog” for summarized monitoring
- Backup (-c backup) and Details (-c details) fixes
Additional information:General Availability: AzAcSnap 8 — Azure Application Consistent Snapshot tool updates | Azure updates | Microsoft Azure
What is Azure Application Consistent Snapshot tool for Azure NetApp Files | Microsoft Learn
Policy analytics for Azure Firewall
Policy analytics for Azure Firewall, now in general availability, provides enhanced visibility into traffic flowing through Azure Firewall, enabling the optimization of your firewall configuration without impacting your application performance.
Additional information:Generally available: Policy analytics for Azure Firewall | Azure updates | Microsoft Azure
Optimize performance and strengthen security with Policy Analytics for Azure Firewall | Azure Blog | Microsoft Azure
Azure Monitor for SAP solutions
Azure Monitor for SAP solutions is a turn-key Azure-native end-to-end technical monitoring product for customers running SAP applications on Microsoft Azure. With Azure Monitor for SAP solutions, customers can collect end-to-end telemetry data from SAP NetWeaver, databases, high-availability Linux Pacemaker clusters, and Linux operating systems in a central location within Azure portal to visually correlate data for speedy troubleshooting.
Additional information:General Availability : Azure Monitor for SAP solutions | Azure updates | Microsoft Azure
What is Azure Monitor for SAP solutions? | Microsoft Learn
Announcing General Availability for Microsoft Azure Monitor for SAP Solutions
Azure Monitor for SAP solutions demo – Events | Microsoft Learn
Seamlessly upgrade your Application Gateway V2 WAF configuration to a policy
Azure’s regional Web Application Firewall (WAF) on Application Gateway now supports a fully automated experience when upgrading your WAF from configuration to policy.
Additional information:General availability: Seamlessly upgrade your Application Gateway V2 WAF configuration to a policy | Azure updates | Microsoft Azure
Upgrade to Azure Application Gateway WAF policy | Microsoft Learn
Routing Intent and Virtual WAN Integrated Firewall NVAs
Routing intent supports inter-region/inter-hub traffic inspection and branch-to-branch traffic inspection for Azure Virtual WAN.
Additional information:General Availability: Routing Intent and Virtual WAN Integrated Firewall NVAs | Azure updates | Microsoft Azure
How to configure Virtual WAN Hub routing policies – Azure Virtual WAN | Microsoft Learn
Tutorial: Secure your virtual hub using Azure Firewall Manager | Microsoft Learn
Deployment overview | FortiGate Public Cloud 7.4.0 (fortinet.com)
Azure Data Explorer adds new geospatial capabilities
Azure Data Explorer now supports geospatial analysis with three new functions: geo_point_buffer, geo_line_buffer, and geo_polygon_buffer. These functions let you create polygonal buffers around points, lines, or polygons.
Additional informationGeneral availability: Azure Data Explorer adds new geospatial capabilities | Azure updates | Microsoft Azure
geo_point_buffer() – Azure Data Explorer | Microsoft Learn
geo_line_buffer() – Azure Data Explorer | Microsoft Learn
geo_polygon_buffer() – Azure Data Explorer | Microsoft Learn
Access to a vibrant ecosystem of first-party and third-party solutions for building robust enterprise solutions.
Additional information:Generally Available: Kubernetes marketplace | Azure updates | Microsoft Azure
Deploy a Kubernetes application from Azure Marketplace – Azure Kubernetes Service | Microsoft Learn
Network Observability add-on on AKS
Network observability is an important part of maintaining a healthy and performant Kubernetes cluster. By collecting and analyzing data about network traffic, AKS customers can gain insights into how your cluster operate and can identify potential problems before they cause outages or performance degradation.
Key customer benefits:
- Get access to node-level network metrics like packet drops, connections stats and more.
- Support for all Azure CNIs – AzureCNI and AzureCNI (Powered by Cilium)
- Support for all AKS node types – Linux and Windows
- Easy deployment using native Azure tools – AKS CLI, ARM templates, PowerShell, etc.
- Seamless integration with the Azure managed Prometheus and Azure-managed Grafana offerings.
Additional information:Public Preview: Network Observability add-on on AKS | Azure updates | Microsoft Azure
What is Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS) Network Observability? (Preview) – Azure Kubernetes Service | Microsoft Learn
Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS) Networking Essentials – YouTube
Assess impact of service retirements using new workbook template in Azure Advisor
It is important to be aware of upcoming Azure service and feature retirements to understand their impact on your workloads and plan migration. The Service Retirement workbook provides a single centralized resource level view of service retirements and helps you assess impact, evaluate options, and plan migration.
The workbook includes 35 services and features planned for retirement. You can view planned retirement dates, list and map of impacted resources and get information to make the necessary actions.
Additional information:Public preview: Assess impact of service retirements using new workbook template in Azure Advisor | Azure updates | Microsoft Azure
Prepare migration of your workloads impacted by service retirements. – Azure Advisor | Microsoft Learn
App Service support for .NET 8
Developers can use the capabilities offered by .NET 8 and run web apps in Azure App Service (for both Windows and Linux. App Service provides early access to new language releases such as .NET 8, which will be available shortly. As new .NET capabilities are released, you can integrate them into your web apps and use App Service to deploy and scale those apps, without waiting for an App Service platform update.
Additional information:Public Preview: App Service support for .NET 8 | Azure updates | Microsoft Azure
What’s New for Azure App Service at Build 2023 (microsoft.com)
Custom Image Templates for Azure Virtual Desktop
Custom image templates allows admins to build a custom “golden image” with the added capability to include Azure Virtual Desktop built-in customization as well as your own customization scripts to install other applications or set of configurations.
Additional information:Public preview: Custom Image Templates for Azure Virtual Desktop | Azure updates | Microsoft Azure
Announcing the public preview of Azure Virtual Desktop Custom Image Templates (microsoft.com)
Custom image templates (preview) – Azure Virtual Desktop | Microsoft Learn
Azure AD Support for Azure Files SMB shares REST API
The public preview of Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) for Azure SMB Shares enables share-level read and write access for users, groups, and Managed Identities (MI) when accessing through the REST API. With Azure AD support, applications can now access Azure file shares securely, without storing or managing any credentials. Applications can leverage managed identities to securely access the customer-owned file shares.