Microsoft Azure Automation Comes to the UK, West Central U.S. Region

More customers can now use Azure services to automate their cloud and IT workloads and Azure SQL databases get a performance boost.

Azure Cloud Automation 2

The Azure Automation service, used to perform repeatable processes and configuration management on Azure, is now available for customers in the U.K. and those whose cloud services are provided by in the Azure West Central U.S. region data center based in Wyoming.

As its name implies, the service enables customers to automate common IT tasks and avoid the errors that come with managing those tasks manually.

"You can use Azure Automation to create, monitor, deploy, and maintain resources in your Azure, on-premises, and third-party cloud environments, by using highly scalable and reliable process execution and desired state configuration engines," blogged Microsoft principal program manager Andres Juarez on Jan. 16

Other recent updates to Microsoft's sprawling cloud services portfolio include an Azure SQL performance bump at no additional cost. All databases on the platform now offer twice the write performance. Read performance has been doubled for databases using the company's premium plans.

Jan Engelsberg, a senior program manager at Microsoft's Azure SQL unit, noted that premium plan customers with heavy online transaction processing (OLTP) workloads will particularly benefit from the upgrade, potentially enabling them to move to a lower-priced plan.

"In general, if your premium workload is below 50 percent DTU [Database Transaction Unit] utilization now, you may be able to run in the next lower premium performance level," he stated in a Jan. 11 announcement.

Given the variability in database workloads, exact performance benchmarks are tough to pin down, but Engelsberg offered that customers should notice that response times for bulk inserts and other write functions have been halved after the update.

Microsoft also recently announced the open-source release of the Live Monitoring Dashboard for cloud streaming and media processing solutions suite, Azure Media Services. Available on GitHub, the dashboard provides users with an at-a-glance view of critical metrics, including encoding and video stream ingestion rates. Dashboard views are refreshed every 30 seconds and color-coded indicators enable users to quickly determine how the health of their deployments.

Finally, Microsoft announced the general availability of it new high-security Department of Defense (DoD) regions. The Azure data centers, used to provide the Defense Department with cloud services, conform to Information Impact Level 5 standards, which dictate the IT infrastructure used to process, transmit and store sensitive DoD data, are physically separated from non-DoD cloud tenants.

Currently, the two Azure DoD regions (US DoD East and US DoD West) are providing the Defense Department with cloud compute, database, storage and networking services with dedicated Azure Government support. During a months-long preview program, more than 50 DoD customers, spanning multiple defense agencies and all branches of the military, have used Microsoft's top-secret cloud.

The move can help partner military contractors and service providers speed up their customers' journey to the cloud. "With Azure Government DoD Region, we are now able to onboard a customer in weeks, not months, allowing for a time-to-value that is unparalleled when compared with on-premises or other government-sponsored options," said Dave Milton, CTO of military business solutions provider Permuta Technologies, in a statement.

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...