Microsoft's Azure Advisor Helps Customers Float Cloud Applications

This week's Azure updates include a new service that helps users avoid performance problems and security risks when they deploy their cloud applications.

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It may easier than ever to subscribe to Azure cloud services, but configuring them to run applications is hardly a set-and-forget affair.

To help customers avoid stumbling blocks and avert data security mishaps, Microsoft has released a preview of its new Azure Advisor feature, "a personalized recommendation engine" of sorts. It helps take the guesswork out of successfully and optimally deploying applications using the company's cloud computing services suite, claims the company.

"Azure Advisor analyzes your resource configuration and usage telemetry to detect risks and potential issues," wrote Microsoft staffers Shankar Sivadasan and Manbeen Kohli, in a Nov. 17 blog post. "It then draws on Azure best practices to recommend solutions that will reduce your cost and improve the security, performance, and reliability of your applications."

Users can access Azure Advisor's recommendations by clicking the Get Recommendations button after selecting a subscription in the Azure Portal control panel. Recommendations fall into four categories, high availability, security, performance and cost, enabling users to explore the business impact of the proposed suggestions.

In addition to offering advice, the feature can help users attain their security-enhancing and money-saving goals.

"Azure Advisor also provides inline actions—a convenient way to click through and implement recommendations without leaving the Azure Advisor portal. If you don't intend to take an immediate action, you can snooze a recommendation for a period," added Sivadasan and Kohli.

On the data protection front, Microsoft announced that its Azure Backup Server solution now supports VMware virtual machine (VM) backups to the cloud or disk. The software now uses VMware's VADP (vStorage APIs for Data Protection) API to offer agentless backup capabilities, eliminating the need to add additional software to vCenter or ESXi servers. Further, customers can now automatically backup VMs that are subsequently added to protected folders.

This week, Microsoft made big strides in expanding its cloud big data portfolio by announcing the general availability of Azure Data Lake Store and Azure Data Lake Analytics.

"Azure Data Lake was introduced to drive big data adoption by making big data easy for developers, data scientists, and analysts to store data of any size, shape and speed, and do all types of processing and analytics across platforms and languages," explained Oliver Chiu, product marketing manager at Microsoft Big Data and Data Warehousing, in a blog post. "It removes the complexities of ingesting and storing all your data while making it faster to get up and running with big data."

Meanwhile, Azure Data Lake Analytics is a service that dynamically scales according to a customer's processing needs at the time. Rather than setup and configure servers, customers need only write data and extract extraction queries.

Finally, Microsoft also announced the general availability of Azure Application Insights. Developers can use the service to pinpoint application issues, view usage statistics and see how user interactions translate affect business outcomes with Power BI dashboards.

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the Internet.com network of...