Microsoft opens 35 day window for Azure customers to postpone ‘impactful’ host updates

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You can’t postpone the inevitable, but Microsoft has given customers the ability to postpone “impactful” host updates for their Azure Virtual Machines for up to 35 days.

The maintenance control for platform update feature, which the vendor has launched in preview, is designed to ease the fears of “customers with highly sensitive workloads” when it comes to Microsoft’s platform maintenance programme.

Microsoft says “Almost all updates have zero impact on your Azure virtual machines (VMs)” – except for those that do. Where an update doesn’t require a reboot, “the VM is briefly paused while the host is updated, or it’s live migrated to an already updated host”.

When a reboot is required – an “extremely rare scenario” Microsoft insists – the customer is notified of the planned maintenance, and “Azure also provides a time window in which you can start the maintenance yourself, at a time that works for you.”

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While Azure insists that rebootless updates don’t affect the overall customer experience, “certain very sensitive workloads may require full control of all maintenance activities” and it is those customers the new feature is aimed at. Microsoft listed “financial services providers, gaming companies, or media streaming services using Azure Dedicated Hosts or Isolated VMs.”

To postpone updates, admins add a custom maintenance configuration to a resource, which tells the Azure update to skip all non-zero-impact updates. It is then the customer’s responsibility to initiate the updates. If you don’t, once the 35 day window is up, “Azure will automatically apply all pending updates for you, to ensure that your resources remain secure and get other fixes and features.”

Likewise, the service won’t push back updates related to “high-severity” security issues, though the vendor says “this is a rare occurrence that would only be used in extreme cases, such as a last resort to protect you from critical security issues.”

In other Azure-related news, Microsoft has made its Teams collaboration platform available on Linux, with a choice of .deb and .rpm flavours. The Teams client “is the first Microsoft 365 app that is coming to Linux desktops, and will support all of Teams’ core capabilities.”

The Linux app joins Microsoft’s existing Windows and Mac OS versions, as well as its iOS and Android mobile apps.

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