Windows Azure host and guest OS updates

Windows Azure host OS is the root partition, which is responsible for creating child partitions to execute Windows Azure services and guest OS. The host OS is updated atleast once in a quarter to keep the environment secure. Updating the Host OS means that the VMs hosted in it should be shutdown and then restarted. While the upgrade is done, Azure ensures that the VMs in different update domains are not down simultaneously thereby affecting the availability of hosted applications. An optimal order of updating the servers are identified first before proceeding with the upgrade.

Windows Azure guest OS runs on the VMS that host your applications in Azure. The OS is updated periodically when each time a new update is released. You can choose to get this done automatically or manually upgrade it at a chosen period.Microsoft recommends automatic OS updates, so that known security vulnerabilities are taken care of and you application will run on an up-to-date environment.

Inorder to configure your Guest OS for automatic OS updates, you need to edit the ServiceConfiguration element in the cscfg file as follows

<ServiceConfiguration serviceName="RM.Unify.Launchpad" xmlns=""  osFamily="2" osVersion="*" schemaVersion="2012-05.1.7">

osVersion="*"  defines that the OS should be updated automatically

PS: The different OS families are identified by the OS family number and should be read as follows

Windows Server 2008 SP2 - osFamily 1
Windows Server 2008 RS - osFamily 2
Windows server 2012 - osFamily 3


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