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Windows Azure Roles and Automatic Updates

As the new year rolls in, every PC owner and administrator will surely be getting ready for the usual onslaught of attacks, malware, and security vulnerabilities, regardless of the OS they use. For network administrators, this means patching and updating all the servers on their company’s network. And as anyone who has had the duty of keeping servers up to date and security can tell you, it takes a LONG time. Unlike personal computers, server updates have to be scheduled and planned to minimize downtime. Additionally, companies may need to research the update prior to installing to make sure their applications will still function properly after being applied. Given that many companies have extremely large server farms for their internal and external applications, system updates can quickly become a fulltime job.

Hosting applications in Windows Azure not only alleviates management of systems for companies. It also helps with system updates and keeping servers up to date. As new security vulnerabilities are identified, Microsoft will automatically apply updates to Windows Azure roles (if configured to do so). Admins can choose to have Microsoft keep their roles (instances) up to date and apply these updates when they are available, thereby eliminating a tremendous administrative effort for the company.

The Windows Azure team notifies clients of upcoming patches via email. The Live ID associated with the subscription will receive an email detailing the update. Below is an excerpt from a recent update notification:

This email is to notify you that we have completed rolling out the MS11-100 security update to the Windows Azure platform. This security update resolves one publicly disclosed vulnerability and three privately reported vulnerabilities in the Microsoft .NET Framework.

We are sending you explicit notification on this update to our platform because it addresses a publicly known vulnerability that presents risk to customers who have not updated their hosted services. Updates will be automatic for most customers, but certain customers will need to take prompt action. Please read further to determine if any action is required on your part.

The Guest OS version which includes the security update is:
  • Windows Guest OS Family 1 -> WA-GUEST-OS-1.8_201109-03
  • Windows Guest OS Family 2 -> WA-GUEST-OS-2.8_201109-03

If the subscription contains multiple roles, Microsoft will apply the updates to the roles individually to ensure the application stays on line during the update.

Windows Azure continues to evolve as an enterprise-level platform for companies to expand their business to.
Automatic updates from Microsoft compliment an already stellar product line by increasing employee productivity and reducing administrative overhead. I highly recommend you take advantage of this added benefit of Windows Azure to keep you applications secure and up to date!


Wiz E. Wig, Mascot & Director of Magic
Wiz E. Wig

Director of Magic