Once again, it is Ignite season.  Today I want to take a look at some of the hottest announcements when it comes to Microsoft’s public cloud solution, Microsoft Azure.  There is so much interesting news around Ignite season, and the best place to look for anything Azure is at the Microsoft Azure Blog.

Azure confidential computing

Azure confidential computing is fascinating to me.  Just like in the virtualization world, cloud resources are shared, which can become a concern when different organizations are leveraging the same hardware, especially in the era of the security vulnerability.  In fact, Microsoft is a founding member of the Confidential Computing Consortium, a cross functional group made of security vendors, cloud providers, and hardware vendors to focus on protection of data.
Things like memory encryption go a long way here, and Azure is committed to providing these secure solutions.  The big Ignite announcements in this space are both new hardware that support confidential VMs powered by Intel and AMD.  It really is about protecting the data in a virtual machine from everything else in the environment, since anything is a vector for compromise these days.  In fact, Azure plans on even more ensnarement to this space, investing over $20 billion in the next five years focused on security.

Azure database enhancements

Databases are a huge deal at Ignite this year.  First and foremost, the preview of  SQL Server 2022 which is all about cloud integration, especially when it comes to analytics.  Just as there are new features in SQL Server 2022, the Azure counterpart of Azure SQL Managed Instance also has a number of enhancements especially when it comes to performance and storage.  Scalability is huge for Azure SQL.  Another awesome feature is the new link feature in SQL Managed Instance.  Wouldn’t it be nice to be more flexible with databases.  One of the interesting things to be is the ability to offload a secondary copy to Azure that is read-only.  You can then wreak havoc on this secondary database copy without any impact to production.  Of course, you can also use this feature to help migrate your SQL Server 2019 and SQL Server 2022 instances to Azure as well.
There’s also some more enhancements when it comes to other flavors of databases, such as the introduction of Azure Managed Instance for Apache Cassandra and a new deployment option for Azure Database for SQL.  Don’t miss more of the exciting features right here.

Azure Arc expansion

Let’s face it, whether people want to admit it or not, utilizing the cloud is no small feat from an operational standpoint.  Azure Arc’s sole mission is to enable centralized management for hybrid and multi-cloud resources, reducing this operational burden.  From Windows to Linux to SQL, to Kubernetes, everything can be managed from a centralized point.  Besides this centralized management point, which is a huge win, there’s also features to provide per VM life cycle management, meet compliance requirements, and stay secure.
Azure Arc also saw enhancements at Ignite with support for Azure Arc on VMware vSphere and Azure Stack HCI, Azure Arc-enabled Machine Learning, and Azure Arc-enabled SQL Managed instance.  This is huge, as more and more organizations adopt Azure services, and seek the ability to make their lives easier operationally.
These are just a few of the most interesting Azure news points from Ignite 2021.  Be sure to check out everything that is going on, including all of the great sessions in the session catalog at the Ignite website.
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