Azure in 2020: The Year in Review

As we head into 2021 it’s time again to look back over the last year and review what’s been happening in the world of Azure.

As with [last year](Azure in 2019: The Year in Review -, I’ve taken the data from the Azure Updates site and used this to analyse what’s been going on over the year. I am sure there have been updates and announcements happening that have not made it onto this feed, but this is the only data source that exists for tracking these things, so it’s the best metric we have currently.

As with everything else, it’s been a bit of a crazy year, and releases and updates have been impacted by the pandemic, home working and more. Despite all that, we have actually seen more announcements this year than in 2020, with 1125 announcements, 75 more than 2019.

Most years we have seen a spike in announcements around Build and Ignite time, but interestingly this year we didn’t see much of a spike at Build, but a much larger spike than last year at Ignite. This might indicate that a number of things for Build got delayed by the pandemic, and got pushed to Ignite.

announcement by month

If we look at which areas of Azure saw announcements, we are again a bit hampered by the inconsistent tagging done on the announcements site. However, last year this was dominated by the Azure Portal, whilst this still has a large chunk we can see a big chunk of work being done on Azure Monitor and Security.

By Tag

Let’s look a bit deeper now at some of the highlights of the year.

2020 Highlights

It’s not possible to cover all 1125 announcements, so I’ve pulled out a few highlights that I think are the highlights of this years announcements, at least from my perspective. Feel free to disagree or add more in the comments! If you want to look at all the announcements from this year you can do so here.


New Solution for Azure Monitor for Virtual Machines - A new and improved in VM monitoring solution for Azure monitor to get richer data

Classic VM retirement announced - Classic VM’s will retire on the 1st March 2023

Cross Region Restore for Azure Virtual Machines- Initiate VM restores from Azure Backup into a secondary region

Spot VM’s GA - Use Spot VM’s to utilise spare Azure capacity for reduced cost

VMSS Auto Image Upgrade - Automate the upgrade of gallery and custom images in VMSS

Azure Auto-manage - Automated management for backup, security etc.


Azure Ultra Disks - New super fast SSD storage for virtual machines

Managed Disks Support for Bursting - Burst above a disks limits to handle spiky workloads

Object replication for Blobs - Replicate block blobs to another storage account

Azure Storage Blob Index - Categorise blob data using key value pairs

Customer Initiated Failover GA - Control when your storage accounts failover to another region

Azure Blob Storage NFS Support - Mount a blob container using NFS

Azure Shared Disks - Attach a disk to more than one Virtual Machine

Soft Delete for Azure Blob - Enable recovery of recently deleted blobs

Azure File Support for NFS - Mount Azure Files shares with NFS


NSG Flow Logs - view information about ingress and egress through your NSG’s to better debug issues

Private Link - GA and many new services came onboard to private link

Service Endpoint Policies - Additional security for your service endpoints with policies

Virtual Network NAT - Network Address Translation for outbound internet traffic on your vNet

Azure Peering Service GA - Peering between Azure and Service providers offering enhanced routing and monitoring

Azure Firewall Manager GA - Manage multiple Azure Firewalls from a central location

Cross Region Load Balancing - User Azure Load Balancer to balance traffic across regions

App Service and PaaS

Self Hosted Gateway for Azure API Management - Run an APIM gateway on-premises or anywhere you can run containers

Azure Front Door Rules Engine - Create rules to customise handling of incoming requests

OpenID Connect Support for App Service and Functions - Configure App Service authentication using customer providers that support Open ID Connect

Azure Communication Services - Add real time multimedia, voice, video and telephony to your applications

App Service v3 SKU - Improved performance and cost

Containers & Serverless

Azure Functions Runtime 3.0 GA - The latest runtime for Azure functions goes GA, supporting .NET core 3.1 and Node 12

Functions vNet Integration - Integrate Azure Functions with a virtual network using the Premium plan

Managed Identity Support for AKS - Use managed identity for running AKS clusters rather than service principals

AKS Private Clusters - Use Private Link to fully isolate your AKS clusters from the internet

Windows Container GA on AKS - Use Windows Containers on AKS

Azure Policy for AKS - Use Azure Policy to apply controls to your AKS workloads

Optional SLA for AKS - For critical workloads you can now get an SLA for AKS clusters

AKS Azure AD Integration - Integrate with Azure AD for authentication to AKS

AKS Node Image Upgrade - Upgrade AKS Node OS without a Kubernetes Upgrade

Azure AD for AKS RBAC - Use Azure AD roles to grant Kubernetes RBAC permissions on AKS

Pod Identity for AKS - Automatically deploy Pod Identity to your AKS clusters


Serverless Pricing for Cosmos DB - Consumption based pricing for your Cosmos DB databases

Log Analytics Dedicated Clusters - Store Log Analytics data in a dedicated cluster with customer managed encryption and lockbox

Zone Redundant Azure SQL Databases - Spread your databases over multiple availability zones


Azure Security Centre Continuous Export - Export security alerts and recommendation’s to Log Analytics or Azure Event Hubs

Azure Security Centre Workflow Automation - Trigger logic apps based on security alerts

Azure Security Centre for AKS - Azure Security Centre now monitors AKS clusters

Data Plane RBAC for Key Vault - Grant access to Key Vault data resources using Azure RBAC roles

Portal, Management and Infrastructure as Code

Azure Resource Mover - Move Azure resources between regions

ARM Template What-If GA - Determine what your ARM template will do before it is run

Azure Bicep Preview - A new language for writing ARM templates