New Azure infrastructure offerings unveiled including SSD managed disks and GPU-enabled VMs

Microsoft has made significant progress with Azure since its inception and this year has been no different with a focus on the IoT space and "Digital Twins" as well as a number of online and offline data transfer solutions under the Azure Data Box banner. Unsurprisingly, the company has also announced a slew of new services in the infrastructure space at the Ignite 2018 conference.

Perhaps most significantly, the forthcoming general availability of Windows Server 2019 and Windows Server, version 1809 was announced for October and will be complemented by the release of Windows Admin Center version 1809. These OS versions will help connect in-house infrastructure with services in the Azure cloud to enable the deployment of hybrid solutions.

The company also announced a number of storage solutions, including Azure Standard SSD Managed Disks into general availability as well as a new Ultra service variant, designed for latency-sensitive or data-intensive workloads, entering its public preview. Customers will also have the option of 8, 16, and 32TB capacities across the Premium SSD, Standard SSD, and Standard HDD products. Capacity boosted Azure Files shares also moved out of preview, seeing the maximum allocated storage increase from 5TB to 100TB while a premium SSD-backed version of the service for "high-throughput, low latency" workloads made its debut in preview form.

Moving beyond storage, the Redmond giant unveiled two new N-series Azure Virtual Machines that will be GPU optimized, making them ideal for tasks reliant on heavy graphics processing or where GPU computing power is most appropriate. The VMs will be part of the ND- and NV-series offerings with the former available in public preview while the latter will follow suit later in the year.

Turning towards networking, Microsoft also announced two new variants of its Azure ExpressRoute service. ExpressRoute Direct provides access to the company's global backbone which may be of benefit when significant data transfers to Azure infrastructure is required. ExpressRoute Global Reach takes this a step further by allowing customers to communicate across this network via local ExpressRoute connections around the world. Both offerings are now available in public preview.

Azure Firewall, Microsoft's firewall-as-a-service product, reached general availability after being in preview for under four months. The service now also supports hybrid networks, including those that leverage ExpressRoute while allowing users to implement policy enforcement to regulate application and network traffic across service instances as well as virtual networks. Lower level integration with other Azure services, including Azure Monitor and Security Center.

Further details about these services are expected to be made available during the course of Ignite 2018.

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