Azure World Newsletter – Issue 3.03

February 23, 2021

Welcome to the third edition of the Azure World Newsletter in 2022.

Once again, two weeks have passed. It’s hard to believe. For me, 2022 is progressing pretty quickly. The year is 14% over at this point, which is one-seventh of the year. I need to get moving on some of my goals for 2022! Thanks again for subscribing.

The unsubscribe link is at the bottom if you want to stop receiving these emails.


ONE.

A research paper at Microsoft caught the attention of Mary Jo Foley at ZDNet. It talks about it’s AI project code-named Singularity. 

The paper was named, “Singularity: Planet-Scale, Preemptive and Elastic Scheduling of AI Workloads” which alludes to the size of this AI project. 

https://arxiv.org/pdf/2202.07848.pdf

Singularity promises to scale AI workloads to hundreds of thousands of servers (GPUs and FPGAs, etc) in an efficient manner. These workloads are usually the training of an AI model which can take hours, days or even weeks depending on the job.

This reminds me of the idea of Azure Batch Service – an orchestration layer that distributes discrete workloads to hundreds or thousands of VMs. Singularity takes the same concept but for the new types of AI workloads. 

Singularity is focused on optimizing for the performance of the entire job. 

If you’re interested in the future of “planet-scale” AI training, the link is above. If you want to read Mary Jo Foley’s article, this is the link here:

https://www.zdnet.com/article/microsoft-goes-public-with-details-on-its-singularity-ai-infrastructure-service/


TWO.

Over the last year, Microsoft has been working hard to improve the experience for customers running SQL Server in a Virtual Machine.

In my Azure courses, I used to be able to say “if you choose to run SQL Server in a VM, that’s IaaS. You’re completely on your own. You are responsible for patching the software and the OS. You are responsible for backups. All of the work you did for SQL Server on-premises has to also be done in the cloud because you’re running SQL Server inside a VM.”

But that’s not true anymore.

Over the last year or two, you can now do some management of SQL Server in a VM from the Azure Portal. There is actually an Agent that runs in the virtual machine that allows the Azure Portal to interact with the SQL Server instance.

In the Azure Portal, now you can schedule Automated Patching. Important or Critical SQL Server updates can be installed automatically during a predefined maintenance window.

You can also schedule Automated Backups from the Portal. These are database-level backups that take into account things such as always-on availability groups. It also supports point-in-time recovery. Backups for SQL Server in a VM now have features that used to be reserved for Azure SQL Database.

In the past week, Azure has released an update that allows you to manage the tempdb storage settings from the Portal.

Pulling some of these management settings from SQL Server into the Portal makes it easier to manage these databases at scale, and improves the experience for database administrators. While still keeping the compatibility of running SQL Server in a virtual machine instead of the platform option.

https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/azure/azure-sql/virtual-machines/windows/sql-server-on-azure-vm-iaas-what-is-overview

A reminder that the AZ-303 and AZ-304 exams expire at the end of March.

Those exams together get you the Azure Architect Expert certification. Going forward, you’ll need AZ-104 and AZ-305 to get that certification. You can also get it with AZ-303 and AZ-305.

AZ-305 is out of beta, and if you took it in beta you should have your results by now. You get that from the Microsoft MCP dashboard. 

Two exams in beta now are AZ-800: Administering Windows Server Hybrid Core Infrastructure, and AZ-801: Configuring Windows Server Hybrid Advanced Services. These are Windows Server exams, but focus on the hybrid element. 

AZ-800: “Administrative tools … such as Windows Admin Center, PowerShell, Azure Arc, and IaaS virtual machine administration.”

AZ-801: “Administrative tools … such as Windows Admin Center, PowerShell, Azure Arc, Azure Automation Update Management, Microsoft Defender for Identity, Azure Security Center, Azure Migrate, and Azure Monitor.”

Check out the new exams below:

https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/learn/certifications/exams/az-800

https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/learn/certifications/exams/az-801

https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/azure/azure-sql/virtual-machines/windows/sql-server-on-azure-vm-iaas-what-is-overview


AZURE PLATFORM UPDATES.

The following announcements were made in the last two weeks: 

  • Azure Site Recovery can now keep up to 15 days of recovery points instead of just 72 hours
  • Azure Bastion now supports file transfer via the native client, in preview
  • OCR now supports 164 languages including Arabic and Hindi, in preview
  • Azure AKS now support tags
  • Azure Automanage for Windows Server now supports reboot-less updates (hotpatch)
  • Azure Monitor now has predictive autoscale for VM Scalesets, in preview
  • Virtual Machine level disk bursting supports additional VM types
  • Automatically delete a VM and its associated resources simultaneously
  • Application Gateway mutual authentication
  • Cost Management anomaly detection for subscriptions, in preview

Be sure and check out the Azure Updates page if any of these affect you.

https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/updates/


COMING UP FOR ME.

Not much change in my status from two weeks ago. I’m recording some videos, and putting them on Youtube. As well, updating some courses where the content needs a refresh. No new courses to announce just yet.


WHERE TO FIND ME.

And that’s it for issue 3.03. Thanks for reading this far.

What is your favorite platform to be on? Perhaps we can connect there.

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