Microsoft has added Windows Server 2016, its latest server operating system, to the roster of virtual machines supported by its Azure Monitoring Agent cloud-based threat protection offering.
With the holidays out of the way, Microsoft has returned to releasing Azure cloud updates at a steady clip.Today, the Redmond, Wash. software and cloud services provider announced that the Azure Monitoring Agent, used by the company’s Azure Security Center threat protection offering, can now collect security metadata from Windows Server 2016 virtual machines (VMs).This brings the total number of supported Windows Server VMs to four (2008 R2, 2012, 2012 R2 and 2016), in addition to several flavors of Linux, including Ubuntu (version 12.04 and up) and SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (version 11 and up).In a Jan. 9 announcement, Sarah Fender, principal program manager of Microsoft Azure Cybersecurity, explained that Security Center uses the collected “metadata to identify security issues, such as missing system updates and vulnerable OS configurations, and applies behavioral analysis to detect malicious activity, such as an attacker executing code or attempts to persist on a compromised VM.”

On the storage front, Microsoft has added a new messaging feature to its Azure Storage Services application programming interface (API) called Pop-Receipt on Add Message. It allows developers to better coordinate resources for cloud applications that rely on the company’s Azure Queue Storage workflow processing and application component communications offering. Code samples using the new feature are available here.

In its quest to build an ecosystem of cloud-based blockchain applications, Wendy Spies, director of Engineering Strategy at Microsoft, recently detailed the company’s three-pronged strategy for growing the Project Bletchley.The company will draw inspiration from partner proofs of concept and build upon them, she explained in a blog post. Microsoft also plans on using its considerable influence to expand the blockchain marketplace ecosystem and develop Azure-backed blockchain middleware services for enterprise-grade implementation of the technology.Best known as the distributed database technology that powers Bitcoin and other crypto-currencies, blockchain has caught the attention of IT vendors, particularly those marketing to the financial services industry.Developers hope its tamper-resistant nature will usher in an era of software and services for banks, health care companies and other organizations that place a premium on secure transactions and record keeping.Even if hospitals, clinics and other health care companies don’t flock to Azure for its burgeoning blockchain solutions ecosystem, Microsoft’s cloud has many other offerings in store. Last week, the company announced that Azure had been awarded the Health Information Trust Alliance’s (HITRUST) compliance management framework (CSF) certification.”It incorporates healthcare specific security, privacy and regulatory requirements from existing regulations such as HIPAA/HITECH, PCI, ISO 27001 and MARS-E as well as industry best practices,” said Alice Rison, senior director of Microsoft Azure, in a statement.The list of HITRUST-certified services includes Azure Active Directory, SQL Data Warehouse and HDInsight, among several others.

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