June 29, 2022
Welcome to the twelfth edition of the Azure World Newsletter in 2022.
It’s officially the summer season in the Northern Hemisphere, and I hope you have some summer rest and/or vacation plans if this includes you. I have a couple of small trips planned, but nothing major.
Every two weeks when I write this newsletter, I get a chance to do some research into the world of Azure to see what’s changing. I’ve seen a few articles lately about how Azure has closed the market gap with AWS. Since I’ve covered that before, I won’t cover it here again. But it’s encouraging to see the market realizing how strong Azure is after a decade of calling AWS the clear market leader.
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“This is why we can’t have nice things.” – Paula Poundstone
Microsoft recently announced it is restricting the use of a few of its Azure Cognitive Services so that the general public cannot access them without an approved reason.
Particularly, starting June 2023, developers wishing to use the Face API, Computer Vision API, or Video Indexer Services will need to apply and be approved in order to be given access. Only certain approved use cases are allowed access to those services.
It’s also removing features of the Face API including the ability to determine facial expressions, emotions, gender, age, smiling, facial hair, and the use of makeup.
Microsoft said it’s worried about these features being used to discriminate in certain situations.
Researchers have found that certain uses of AI can lead to worse outcomes in healthcare settings, job applications, and bank loans. These situations (and others) are life-changing outcomes and we rightly do not want companies purposely or accidentally discriminating against people in these situations. It’s illegal in many countries as well.
This is similar to how Microsoft explicitly restricted access to their AI tools for police services a couple of years ago, anticipating their use in camera surveillance systems. This takes it a step further and restricts it for most people.
It’s important to realize that there already exist vast databases containing a lot of information about each of us. Think of the credit score system as an example of that. Social media companies have similarly captured every photo we’ve ever taken over the past 10 years, read our emails and serve ads based on their contents, track what we search, and which websites we visit. I guess Microsoft doesn’t want its facial recognition technology to be part of some vast advertising or security system. But another company will surely step into the role.
Security is clearly one of the top challenges of cloud computing. It has been for almost the entire existence of the Internet, and always will continue to be.
And so it should not be a great surprise that security researchers continue to find some interesting (and scary) bugs that need to be patched before hackers discover them.
Microsoft recently patched a bug in the Service Fabric hosting platform that allows applications running inside a container to escape, giving them root access to the host Linux operating system.
The researchers called this exploit “FabricScape”. I give that name a 5/10 score. I feel that there could have been something a bit more catchy if they gave it more thought.
Well, we don’t want applications to escape their container, so this has been patched.
Fixes were automatically pushed to Service Fabric Linux clusters starting on June 14. If you allow automatic updates, there is nothing to do. If you do manual updates on your Service Fabric, you better check it.
AZURE PLATFORM UPDATES.
Azure seems to be previewing a lot these days. I guess it’s a good time for them to release some stuff for testing by the public The following announcements were made in the last two weeks:
- Azure WAF policy and DDoS management in Azure Firewall Manager, in GA
- Windows Admin Center in the Azure portal, in preview
- ExpressRoute Direct and Circuit in different subscriptions, in preview
- Azure Virtual Network Manager in nine new regions, in preview
- Durable Functions for Java, in preview
- Durable Functions for Node.js, in GA
- Service Bus Explorer capabilities in the Azure Portal, in preview
- App Service support for .NET 7, in preview
- HTTP proxy support for AKS clusters, in GA
- Azure Functions support for Python 3.10, in preview
- New API backend options in Azure Static Web Apps, in preview
- AKS release tracker, in preview
- Azure Key Vault secrets provider on Azure Arc enabled Kubernetes, in GA
Check out the Azure Updates page if any of these affect you.
COMING UP FOR ME.
I finally started on a new course. It’s been a while since I released a new one. I am excited about this one. It’s more than halfway done, and I’ll talk about it more in the next newsletter.
Other than that, I am taking my own advice and enjoying some very pleasant weather. 🙂
WHERE TO FIND ME.
And that’s it for issue 3.12. Thanks for reading this far. Talk to you again in two weeks.
What is your favorite platform to be on? Perhaps we can connect there.
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