The last Jannick’s findings was just before Microsoft Build, so there’s a ton of news out there.
Book of news
The best source of news with any Microsoft event is the book of news. Most announcements (but not all!) surrounding the event are mentioned in this book.
To me the most promising or surprising news items are:
Azure Container Apps GA
Azure Container Apps, ora ACA for short, are Generally Available now. A great alternative to AKS, where even more management is abstracted away. Even less to worry about, but it might be less flexible to use.
Microsoft Dev Box
One of the pain points when managing devices is the exceptions to the rule. One of those exceptions are always the developers as they need to be a local admin to use their developer tools like Visual Studio. They also need mucho RAM and mucho disk space to be able to dev and build locally, so they have a custom laptop setup compared to the rest of the company. Microsoft created an answer to all that: Microsoft Dev Box. Inspired by the use of Windows 365, these Cloud PCs are now used as a developer workplace. This means the developer just needs a regular laptop and all the heavy lifting and security measurements happens in the cloud. Because, don’t forget, developers are the biggest targets nowadays for hackers.
I’m curious to see where all of this cloud PC stuff is heading in the coming years.
Microsoft has a way of creating frameworks and sunsetting them. Silverlight being one of them. And now there is a new way of creating an app that can run on virtually any modern platform: .NET Multi-platform App UI or MAUI for short. Okay, to be fair, this is pretty cool.
Together with new technology like Blazor, you can really build your whole app, front and backend, with just C# on all kind of platforms. That’s a big time saver.
Microsoft Loop was announced some time ago, I believe at MS Ignite 2021. The product now enters private preview status and I can already see some changes within my teams client. I am really curious to see what this brings to productivity and collaboration. This could be huge.
Live Sharing within teams
Developers working together (peer coding) tend to use Live Share. It’s a feature, originally in Visual Studio and for some time also in VSCode. Microsoft is extending this functionality to Microsoft Teams
Github Copilot GA
Today Github Copilot has reached General Availability status. It has been in preview for about a year now. Copilot gives suggestions while typing code, based on what is published on GitHub and uses the power of AI. It is basically an AI-based pair programmer and it’s mind blowing to use. There a numerous examples of demo’s on youtube like these 2.
GitHub Copilot is currently available to individual GitHub users for an additional cost of $10 USD/month or $100 USD/year. There is a 60 day free trial available, and it’s free for students and maintainers of popular open source projects. Read the FAQ to see if you qualify.
[public preview] Windows Admin Center in the Azure Portal for Azure Arc-enabled infrastructure
Windows Admin Center (WAC) is a server management tool and is a replacement of the tools you used to find in the MMC. The architecture of WAC is basically constitutes a website running on a single host, to manage all servers that host can reach with WinRM (PowerShell). A problem with this architecture is setting it up as it requires a multi-step process including certificates. Of course this is doable, but probably because of this process, I never hear anyone use it. But now, a game changer! Servers can be managed from within the Azure Portal. It’s basically using the portal you already use, and connecting to each server directly. It’s installed with a VM extension, and the process is basically a push of a button in the Azure Portal. As it only needs outbound ports opened it’s very secure as well. This has been announced the beginning of March.
But now, the feature is also available for Arc-enabled Servers. Even with RDP and SSH support. This makes managing servers so much easier. No need for VPNs, jump hosts, Azure Bastion with a lot of routing complexity to on-prem or anything like that. The only real downside I could find is that it needs a local administrator account to connect to the server.
This feature really increases the benefits of Azure Arc enabled Servers. It used to be just managing servers with Azure (Guest Configuration) Policies and vm extensions, but now way more tools are available. And if really really necessary, there is a way to enter the server, straight from the cloud.
“Nested Groups” in Azure AD
One of the most common thing to do in Active Directory Domain Services (you know, the good old Identity Provider that so many enterprises are clinging on to because of legacy protocol apps), is nesting groups. Nesting groups is possible within Azure AD, but not always and not for all functionality. For example license assignments with group based licensing are still not supported with nested groups (although that will change, according to another Identity Team blog post). In other cases there is a Microsoft 365 group that could not be assigned, whereas a regular security group would and nesting isn’t supported. Now there is a solution: creating dynamic groups with the MemberOf attribute. By creating a dynamic group with the memberOf attribute targeting one or more other groups, the members of those other groups become part of the dynamic group. This dynamic group can be assigned to whatever you’d like. This feature makes life just that bit easier, as it is making Azure AD more flexible. Just make sure to understand the (preview) limitations.
Free Pluralsight courses in June
While it’s still June, take advantage of the free Azure related courses.
Of course there are other updates as well. Here are a few updates from the community.
Orphaned resources workbook
Some resources, like VMs, have resources they depend on, like NICs and Public IPs. In a lot of cases the VM is deleted, but the other resources are not, but they do cost money. A Service Engineer in the Azure FastTrack team working at Microsoft has addressed this issue by creating a workbook and has shared this workbook on GitHub.
Azure drawings tutorial
As I’ve been following Azure Arc related Microsoft material, I’ve noticed most drawings used had black backgrounds and usually have just a tad different feel about it. Now I now why that is: Lior Kamrat, Program Manager for Azure Arc, created them. And because loads of people asked him how he creates them, he put up a livestream on youtube.
I like his approach. As I’ve been drawing Azure architecture drawings in, it was always in either Visio or occasionaly draw.io, but I have never even considered using PowerPoint. This week, after seeing the youtube vid, I gave it a go and it was really easy to use. Way less of a learning curve compared to Visio imho.