Azure Updates or Upgrades

One of the questions I had to come back to on several occasions is the difference between Azure Updates and Azure Upgrades and when do these happen. As an organization, it makes perfect sense to strive to be in control of the environment you operate in and moving to SaaS and PaaS does feel like giving up on that control.

It’s specifically that control that cloud providers work to provide access to or rather, insight into.

First of all, when we’re not talking Virtual Machines, what is an:

  • Azure Update

    • Not code breaking patches to azure managed services and operating systems. These updates generally roll off to lower level tiers (rather than premium, production level tiers) and are applied slowly, region to region while evaluating their impacts.
    • Note: I have been touched of such a roll-out for Azure API Management but it touched the development tier and was rolled back withing a couple of hours. Normally, these updates apply without your knowledge and there is not notification on it ever being applied.
  • Azure Upgrade

    • This is a code breaking update, normally a version change or the removal of some backward compatibility. One recent such upgrade is the Azure Functions Run-time 1->2 that required the explicit Run-time version specification in the function’s Application Settings.
    • The Upgrades usually come in as a Preview feature you can opt-in to. The key is that you can opt-in early but these upgrades come with a deadline you cannot opt-out of. They generally allow you  months of heads-up time to adjust whatever breaking changes the upgrade introduces and you may go back and forth between the preview and the “classic” version as long as you are still within ahead of the deadline. Once the deadline reached, Azure applies the Upgrade and your code may break if not adjusted.

Microsoft is providing several tools and avenues to allow subscribers to keep up to date with Azure Updates and Upgrades.

  1. Any Azure updates that may have an impact to our environment will be sent via the Azure Maintenance requests and service health advisories. Setting up the Azure maintenance requests and service health alerts is the best way to accomplish that and Microsoft documents that process here in an easy to follow article.
    Note: Azure Maintenance requests and service health advisories are by default sent to the Administrators role.
    Warning: Adding users to Admin Role would also give the account all the rights associated with the aforementioned role.
  2. Stay updated with Azure service issues represents an entire process documented on a high level here.
    • Stephen Baron published very informative short videos that go over
      • best practices in Azure Service Health alerting.

      • Get alerted via mobile push notifications.

      • Integrate Azure Service Health with your organization’s ticketing system, for example, ServiceNow.

To stay up-to-date with all Azure Updates, preview or features under development, you need to subscribe to the RSS feed. Microsoft would send out thousands of emails otherwise and therefore the email subscription is not an option.

RSS Feed –
This is the only way of keeping up to date with all features in development and upcoming. Development team leads, technical and solution architects should be subscribed to this feed.

This feed details all Azure updates related or not to Azure components in bite-size paragraphs and it’s intended for ahead of time notifications and post availability notifications alike.