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Azure Virtual WAN, Azure Functions get updates

Lars Klint
Lars Klint

What’s new in the wonderful world of Azure this week? We take a look at Azure’s Virtual WAN and its latest updates, some new Azure Functions functionality, and the new VM selector tool that recommends the best instances for you. Let’s dig in!


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Simplify connectivity, routing, and security with Azure Virtual WAN

A wide area network (or WAN) has been around for yonks, which is a technical term for “a long time.” A WAN connects different smaller networks, including local area networks (LANs), to create a larger network.

It is useful for businesses that want to connect office LANs, for example, and secure the network, among other things.

Azure also has a WAN offering, which, unsurprisingly, is virtual. It’s a unified hub and spoke-based architecture providing Network-as-a-Service (NaaS) for connectivity, security, and routing using the Microsoft Global Backbone. And that is the key. You get to use the Microsoft backbone network, which is an intercontinental data highway.

Some of the new features now in general availability include:

  • Custom traffic selectors to assure pre-defined and consistent routing across site-to-site connections. This ties in with the policy-based features of the VPN gateway and lets you specify exact, wide, or narrow traffic selectors.
  • Packet capture on Azure Virtual WAN VPN gateway captures all packets across all connections for a holistic view. This can help you determine whether any problems are within the on-premises network or Azure or somewhere in between.
  • Remote or on-premises RADIUS servers to authenticate users during VPN connection set up. This includes some simplification of RADIUS deployment too.
  • Advanced routing to take advantage of specific ExpressRoute requirements.
  • And finally, BGP peering with Azure Virtual WAN hub.

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What happens when Azure-loving Lars goes to the dark side and tries his hand at AWS tasks? We challenged Lars to walk (or stumble) through a scenario he’d never seen on a cloud platform he didn’t know.


Build real-time web Azure Functions updates

It seems almost every week has more news and features for Azure Functions. And you know what? I don’t mind! Azure Functions is one of the most approachable services when it comes to development, pricing, and maintenance. I just love it.

Anyway, this week I have two Functions updates for you.

  • First, Node.js version 16.13x is now available in a public preview. This is the next long-term support (LTS) version of Node.js and is available for Linux functions apps. The update for function apps running Windows will come next month at some point.
  • Second, Azure Functions can now interact with SQL databases through input and output bindings for Azure SQL. You can get the Microsoft. Azure.WebJobs.Extensions.Sql library from Nuget and use it straight away. With Azure SQL bindings, data can be input from a database to the function with an input binding, and data can be output from the function to the database. This is very neat and ties the traditional SQL data store to the lightweight function apps.

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Virtual Machines selector now generally available.

There are hundreds of different VMs on Azure for various purposes. Some are for testing and super cheap to run, some have incredible specs, like the supercomputer last week, some are optimized for memory-intensive workloads, and tons more. How do you find the right one for your project, though? Until now, it has been the best guess combined with a bit of kicking the rocks to see what comes out.

This week the virtual machines selector tool was released in GA. Tell the tool what you want to use the VM for, how much memory you need, which OS you prefer, which region you are in, and a bunch of other preferences, and it will suggest the right VM series and instance for you. This should save you both time and money when it comes to virtual machines. Just don’t forget to turn them off when you are done, though.

Before we got, do you want to learn more about cloud development with Azure? Check out this month’s line-up of free ACG courses, including our shiny, new AZ-400 DevOps certification exam course. Just create a free account and level up. No credit card required!

We are at the end of the news for this week. As we say on the A Cloud Guru team, when your colleagues tell you to show up early on a Tuesday morning, only to get you to do some Linux gymnastics and AWS push-ups: “Seek and you shall cloud.”

See you next week. Keep being awesome, cloud gurus!


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