Azure Review: Middle East Azure regions; Azure Bastion; Immersive Reader; VM Health; Big data platform; Training

June 28 2019

Microsoft opened its first cloud data center region for the Middle East in the United Arab Emirates, expanding the reach of Azure and Office 365 in the region. Opening the data centers in Abu Dhabi and Dubai reduces latency and increases service to the region and Microsoft became the first cloud provider to receive Dubai Electronic Security Center certification. In a bid to grow skills in the Middle East and Africa, Microsoft Learn has also trained 150,000 people in the wider region so far.

Yousef Khalidi, corporate vice president for Azure Networking announced the preview of Azure Bastion, a PaaS service that runs SSH and RDP connectivity for VMs over SSL. It does this without exposing the public IP of VMs and provisions directly within Azure Virtual Network. A German car manufacturer has already used the system to bridge firewalls while restricting VM public IPs.


Azure Cognitive Service has grown with the addition of Immersive Reader, which adds to existing text reading capabilities. In fact, the new service is already in widespread use by 15 million users across 18 apps. Immersive Reader can do translations and read text aloud, with novel deployments in support of users with dyslexia.

Microsoft has reportedly banned employees from using the free version of Slack and strongly discouraged the use of Google Docs and AWS. The partial Slack ban stems from security concerns, while the other prohibitions are meant to protect Microsoft IP.

For ExpressRoute, Microsoft is adding up to four circuits for one peering location, generally available in Azure Public. HDInsight for VSCode is being updated for Hive users, adding the ability to browse Hive databases across multiple HDInsight clusters and export data as CSV, Excel and JSON.

In the June update, Azure API Management added support for W3C tracing in Application Insights, trust with Azure Key Vault and CORS policy.

The UI for Azure Monitor Logs has changed, giving users more ability to copy query text and copy links or access query history. By default, extended columns will show in the results area while blades will be collapsible on the left-hand side to offer more of a full screen view. On the monitoring front, Microsoft added a public preview of monitoring for Linux and Windows VM scale to Azure Monitor for VMs as announced in October. The service map system with its Azure VM extension adds dependency maps and network connection data sets. VM Health is available for VMs running on Windows 2012 R2 and 2019 or for associated workspaces in the South East Asia, UK South and Canada Central regions.

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