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.
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.
Say Goodbye to Traditional PC Lifecycle Management
Traditional IT tools, including Microsoft SCCM, Ghost Solution Suite, and KACE, often require considerable custom configurations by T3 technicians (an expensive and often elusive IT resource) to enable management of a hybrid onsite + remote workforce. In many cases, even with the best resources, organizations are finding that these on-premise tools simply cannot support remote endpoints consistently and reliably due to infrastructure limitations.
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.
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.
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!