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Azure Backup Improvements and ExpressRoute Monitoring Go Live

Microsoft greenlit various Azure services this month, including Azure ExpressRoute monitoring, additions to the Azure Storage service and Azure Backup service, and the Azure Redis Cache Geo-Replication service.

ExpressRoute Network Performance Monitoring
Azure ExpressRoute monitoring using Network Performance Monitor (NPM) has hit general availability (GA), Microsoft announced last week. The ability to use NPM to monitor Microsoft's high-bandwidth, low-latency private Internet connection service, known as "ExpressRoute," was earlier at the preview stage back in November.

NPM is part of the Microsoft Operations Management Suite (OMS) and can be used to track throughput, latency and packet loss across an ExpressRoute network. It can monitor connections from the on-premises endpoint though the Azure virtual networks (VNets) within the network. IT pros get an "interactive topology view," and they can use NPM to set alerts on traffic thresholds and can even view past network performance history.

To use NPM with ExpressRoute, IT pros need to have an OMS workspace ID and they need to install software agents on the on-premises Windows Server and the "zero VM server," according to Paresh Mundade, a senior program manager for ExpressRoute, in a Microsoft video.

Azure Storage Features
Also at GA this month are features that lets IT pros write rules to permit network traffic only across certain VNets and subnets when using the Azure Storage service. These Azure Storage Service features at GA are called "Virtual Network Service Endpoints" and "Firewalls and Virtual Networks for Azure Storage," according to an announcement earlier this month.

App Consistent Backup for Linux VMs
Azure Backup has a new capability at GA, called "application consistent backup for Linux VMs," that lets users take consistent snapshots of Linux-based Azure virtual machines that are running applications. "To ensure transactional consistency, applications need to be quiesced and there should be no unfinished transactions when taking a VM snapshot," Microsoft explained in an announcement last week. IT pros can make that happen by running two scripts in the Azure Command Line Interface, which are "used to quiesce application IOs."

Microsoft had previewed this application consistent backup for Linux VMs capability for Azure Backup last year. It's been used to support applications such as "Oracle, MySQL, Mongo DB, SAP HANA, and PostGreSQL," according to the announcement. It works with all supported Linux distros "as long as the guest application has APIs to pause and resume application IOs." Another advantage to using application consistent backup for Linux VMs with Azure Backup is that it permits the recovery of "specific application files without the need to restore the entire VM."

Azure Backup Monitoring and Site Recovery
Microsoft OMS users can now add an Azure Backup monitoring solution. The "OMS monitoring solution for Azure Backup" is a template that can be customized to track "backup parameters such as backup and restore jobs, backup alerts, and cloud storage usage across Recovery Services vaults and subscriptions," Microsoft explained in an announcement this month.

The Azure Site Recovery service is also getting an improvement for organizations that tap virtual machines using managed disks. It's now possible to set up Disaster Recovery service in such scenarios, Microsoft announced last week.

Azure Redis Cache Geo-Replication
The open source Redis caching capability that's used to ensure the availability of applications running on Azure datacenters, known as the "Azure Redis Cache" service, now has georeplication support available at the GA status, according to an announcement last week. The Azure Redis Cache Geo-Replication service had been at the preview stage since June.

Access to Azure Redis Cache Geo-Replication requires having two Azure Redis Cache instances, and organizations also have to use the "Premium" subscription option. Setup is typically done using the Azure Portal. Microsoft recommends that customers "always co-locate in the same Azure Region" for optimal performance.

Azure VM Expansion in United Kingdom
Microsoft brought its M- and B-series of Azure Virtual Machines to the UK South region this month, according to an announcement, along with "V3" offerings. The M-series supports "large in-memory database workloads like SQL Server." The B-series is a low-cost option for running "Web servers, small databases, and development or test environments." The "V3" offerings apparently are offshoots of the D- and E-series with support for "nested virtualization and Hyper-V containers."

Azure SDK for Go
Microsoft last week announced the GA of an Azure Software Development Kit (SDK) for Go, which is an open source programming language developed by Google. Go was deemed the "fastest growing language on GitHub in 2017," according this Go blog post.

The Azure SDK for Go can be used to build Azure-based cloud applications. Developers can tap Azure resources such as Azure Blob Storage, Azure Cognitive Services, Azure Active Directory, and database management systems such as "Cosmos DB, Azure DB for PostgreSQL and more," according to the announcement.

Microsoft had released its Azure Cosmos DB Graph API at the GA stage back in December. The Azure Cosmos DB Graph API is "the first cloud database to provide graph functionality over a globally distributed managed service," Microsoft explained in an announcement this month.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.