The first-ever Microsoft Ignite conference was even bigger than billed. More than 23,000 IT professionals were in Chicago last week, 50% more than organizers initially expected.
To me, the turnout reflects the state of the Microsoft tech community as the cloud expands: Change is coming fast and the opportunities are huge. As Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said in his opening remarks, it was the perfect time to bring a range of IT professionals together: “To seize this opportunity, it’s going to take all of our collective skills and ingenuity.”
I can tell you the energy matched the moment in Chicago. The keynote speeches were packed and the Equinix booth was hopping. An unmistakable vibe was that Microsoft Azure has settled into the mainstream as one of the most adopted public cloud technologies. And that robust adoption has a synergy with Equinix’s long history of global dependability and near 100% uptime reliability, especially for customers wishing to do critical business in the cloud.
Other takeaways from the week:
Equinix and Azure ExpressRoute, a road to new revenue
Azure partners are increasingly joining the Equinix ecosystem and can see how private connection to Azure with ExpressRoute is a bridge to new revenue and market opportunities. Many I spoke with saw opportunity in interconnecting to Azure and physical-world partners inside Equinix to provide Azure-enhanced offers to both Azure and colocation customers.
Buzz at Booth 303
Interest in Equinix hybrid cloud solutions for Azure was high. Our survey of nearly 900 people, gave us insights into what problems people hope to solve by moving to Azure, with cost savings, increased flexibility and improved performance among the top expected benefits.
The most prominent buzz revolved around the reality that ExpressRoute and Azure are now seen as critical parts of the toolkit needed to migrate workloads to the cloud. Uptake of Azure and ExpressRoute has skyrocketed, and customers and partners are far more educated on Azure’s benefits. They also view ExpressRoute as the most viable method to meet their bandwidth, security and flexibility requirements. The questions have changed from “Why do I need it?” to “How do I implement it?”
Our partner ecosystem, represented in the booth by Datapipe, Nimbo, NetApp and Alert Logic, was a big draw. Hybrid cloud enablement was top-of-mind, and Equinix partners discussed the support we offer together at each step. Nimbo, our cloud professional services arm, talked about building plans for migration to a hybrid cloud environment. Datapipe, our managed services partner, articulated strategies to reduce the complexities of cloud deployment and maximize Azure’s value. NetApp showed companies how to unify storage between public and private cloud, while protecting and controlling data. And Alert Logic explained how their Cloud Defender Security analytics and response platform helps customers apply a unified policy across their private and Azure-based infrastructure.
Offering insight, breaking news
The most exciting news for Equinix at the show was our announcement of private managed connections to Microsoft Office 365 over ExpressRoute and the Equinix Cloud Exchange. This offer can change how the enterprise consumes desktop apps and services.
During my speaking session on Insight’s first day, I focused on how the Equinix Cloud Exchange evolves traditional cross-connection strategies to a scalable, programmatic, on-demand virtual interconnection platform. The Cloud Exchange enables hybrid clouds as it sits at the nexus of physical world and cloud-based infrastructures, and accessing Azure ExpressRoute over the Cloud Exchange is fast, flexible and secure. It offers the simultaneous interconnection to multiple parties needed to process today’s mission-critical workloads in the cloud.
Azure has come of age, and Platform Equinix’s unmatched performance record makes it the best foundation for hybrid cloud solutions. We think that’s a winning combination.