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Microsoft Ignite 2018  - Azure Virtual Machines News

In this post, I will share some of the news about Azure virtual machines from the Microsoft Ignite conference that is currently being held in Orlando Florida.

On-Premises Too

The first couple of pieces are for on-premises products that can also be used in Azure virtual machines.

Windows Server 2019 was announced as being completed with general availability to come in October – I’ve always suspected early-mid October on a Thursday, morning time (west coast USA) to be precise because that seems to be a thing with Microsoft.

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Azure is going to be one of the few places where you might want to run Windows Server 2019 at first. This is because customers are getting the bits at the same time as manufacturing, and the likes of Dell and HPE have not had time to certify/fix their hardware, firmware and drivers for the new release. Azure, being completely virtual (Hyper-V) and owned by Microsoft will have full support from day one – although this support issue doesn’t hard-stop you from using the bits on your own hardware.

Also being launched is a preview for SQL Server 2019. Big data seems to be the focus here, with support for Hadoop and Spark, and connectors for external databases such as Oracle, MongoDB, and Teradata.

New Virtual Machines

Microsoft still has 16 more letters from the English alphabet left for naming new series of virtual machines. But instead of expanding out, they are expanding varieties of existing series.

Two new specialties of the H-Series (high performance computing) are going into preview. The HB and HC specialties will be launching later this year.

Some new NVIDIA GPU-enabled virtual machines are coming too. New varieties of NV-Series (desktop virtualization) machines are in preview now and the ND-Series (deep learning or AI) will be in preview later in the year.

Managed Disks

The best way to deploy virtual machines today in Azure is with managed disks. Unlike un-managed disks, they are still being improved and they offer a much better management experience.

Standard SSD disks went into preview during the Summer but now they are generally available. Wait before you deploy in production, though, because you will need support from Azure Backup, which should not be too far away.

A preview for a fourth kind of managed disk called Ultra SSD has just started. If Premium SSD is still not fast enough then Ultra SSD should offer more performance, offering ultra-low latency access speeds.

And now for the bit of news that many of you have been waiting for. Managed Disks are getting bigger, much bigger. In preview (in specific regions) are 8 TB, 16 TB, and 32 TB managed disks. This should be great news for customers looking at disaster recovery or migration scenarios for machines that have data volumes larger than 4 TB. I’m not sure of the status of Azure Backup for these disks at this time.

Serial Console

The virtual RS-232 interface that gives you a back door (guest OS authentication is still required) access to a virtual machine without network access is now generally available. This news will help about all those noobs who insist on entering a network configuration into the IPv4 settings of the guest OS.

Azure VM Builder

A new private preview for an in-Azure experience that allows you to build template images for Azure virtual machines has been launched.


More Azure virtual machine news will probably emerge as the week continues so watch this space!

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Aidan Finn, Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP), has been working in IT since 1996. He has worked as a consultant and administrator for the likes of Innofactor Norway, Amdahl DMR, Fujitsu, Barclays and Hypo Real Estate Bank International where he dealt with large and complex IT infrastructures and MicroWarehouse Ltd. where he worked with Microsoft partners in the small/medium business space.
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