Our Top Picks From Microsoft Ignite 2021


November 12, 2021



Microsoft shared many announcements at Ignite 2021 across Azure, AI, Data, Dev and its Ecosystem, IoT, Networking and many more! 

The past year has amplified our push further into the cloud and our digital transformations across every industry. It's never been more essential to ensure Azure Cloud is a dependable platform to support your business today and into the future. 

So what did our team think about these announcements? Well, look no further as our incredible Engineers will recap their highlights from Microsoft Ignite 2021 below. I'm sure you'll find something that sparks your interest just like it did for the Azenix team.

Lachlan Wright: Azure Virtual Network Manager (AVNM)

Managing your Azure network at scale can be challenging. Things get even more complicated when platform and application requirements start to mix. The new Azure Virtual Network Manager service, currently in preview, is a big step from Microsoft that helps ease the complexity that comes with managing large networks.

AVNM allows you to specify configurations and have them automatically apply to a collection of virtual networks referred to as a network group, which can span subscriptions and regions. At this time, these configurations can either be network topologies which are referred to as connectivity configurations, or security rules which are referred to as security admin configurations.

Connectivity configurations allow you to specify either a hub and spoke, or mesh network topology. Once you apply this configuration to a network group it will automatically take care of configuring peering between the networks, so you no longer need to do this every time you deploy a new virtual network. Security admin configurations are used to specify security rules (the very same as what you would configure in a network security group) at the network group level. This means they take precedence over any rules in a network security group. The platform and network teams can use this to apply rules that implement organisation network and security policies.

Read more here.

William Liebenberg: Cosmos DB Partial Updates

Fantastic news! The Azure Cosmos DB Team announced that Partial Document Updates are now Generally Available!

With partial updates we are able to serialize only the part of the document that we are concerned about instead of the entire document. We can achieve this by sending PatchOperations to the container and update fields based on their path (e.g. ‘/invoice/shippingAddress/suburb’).

The overall impact is that our application performance can increase, we can achieve lower end-to-end latency times, consume less CPU cycles and reduce network bandwidth / throughput requirements. Ultimately our apps can be faster at performing updates and we can save some money at the same time! (or spend it elsewhere :)) 

On the implementation details side we are able to send Single Patch Operations or we can combine Multiple Patch Operations and send them all in a single call to the Cosmos DB container host. 

It gets even better because there are some more features that come along with Partial Updates:

  • Using a SQL filter predicate to perform Conditional Updates on a single field for the update to occur or not
  • We can issue a combination of Add, Set, Replace, Remove and Increment operations all at once
  • Transactional batches support partial updates as well so we patch multiple documents in the same partition and commit the transaction, or roll back the changes if something fails
  • Transparent Conflict Resolution - when updating documents from multiple write regions, the conflict resolution can be resolved on the path level (as in a single field!) rather than the entire element. 

Check out the docs to get started with partial updates:

Check out the full announcement from Microsoft:

Brendan Thompson: Azure Container Apps

Microsoft’s ever expanding options for Cloud-native compute is something that is helping startups and large companies alike. The introduction of Azure Container Apps (ACA) gives you the simplicity and ease of use of Azure Container Instances with the flexibility of Azure Kubernetes Services. ACA gives you some incredibly powerful tools to deploy standalone services and suites of microservices through the use of Environments and Revisions. The former allows engineers to couple pods together and act as a single unit to expose functionality to consumers. The latter enables multiple versions of a given service to be available at any given time, which allows for traffic direction scenarios like A/B testing, canary testing and BlueGreen deployments. This service makes an easy transition point from ACI and also into AKS. You can read more about the ACA announcement here, or if you’re interested in how to choose between the Cloud-native compute options check out this post here.

Melissa Houghton: Azure IoT, Microsoft IoT Signals report

Microsoft released their IoT Signals report just before Ignite this year. The Microsoft IoT Signals explores the current state and future plans of IoT, providing insight into adoption rates and benefits, challenges, and emerging trends. 

The findings show IoT adoption is at 90%, and COVID has accelerated IoT strategies. Further analysis reveals that using emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, edge computing, and digital twins enhance IoT solutions and increase success.

The accessibility and ease of implementing IoT and emerging technologies will become ever more critical as we move towards the future. The report found that organisations who invest in IoT and overcome challenges in implementing the technology are better able to capitalise on the benefits of IoT. Now is the time to create your implementation strategy for IoT, artificial intelligence, edge computing, and digital twins. Why not do it with the power of Azure IoT?

Download and read the full report here

Melissa Houghton: Experience hosting VS Code Table Topic

Screenshot of VS Code Table Topic

This year at Ignite, I had the opportunity to co-host a table topic about optimising developer productivity in Visual Studio Code. 

Table topics are moderated conversations in the tech community, providing an opportunity for Ignite attendees to connect and share information. The topic of Visual Studio Code was an attendee generated session, asked for by attendees of Ignite.

Visual Studio Code (VS Code) is a flexible, lightweight, cross-platform, free IDE with built-in IntelliSense, Run and Debugging tools, Git integrations, and an extension library. 

The session reached our 100 person capacity, and the community shared many great tips and tricks for optimising developer productivity in VS Code.

The top tips from the discussion:

Download VS Code to get started using the popular editor today!

Peter Hall: GitHub Actions connect to Azure using Open ID Connect authentication

I’m a huge fan of GitHub Actions. I love the power and flexibility you get for not only CI/CD pipelines but any sort of automation that starts with a GitHub repository.

Up until now, when integrating a workflow with Azure it required adding static credentials within GitHub to manage Azure resources with a service principal. Open ID Connect (OIDC) allows you to set up a trust relationship between a specific GitHub workflow (down to the environment of a specific branch if desired) and an Azure service principal. This allows for super granular role-based access control of resources in Azure without any sharing of static credentials.

OIDC for GitHub is in public beta and fairly straightforward to get up and running with. I was able to get an Actions workflow connecting to my Azure subscription in about 10 mins. You can try it yourself with the instructions here.

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