Digital transformation may mean different things to different companies, but one thing that was consistent among all of the enterprises that presented at this year’s Microsoft Ignite Conference is how Microsoft Azure is enabling it to happen. In his keynote address, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella described that in digital transformation, the role of an intelligent cloud platform that is powered by artificial intelligence (AI), is “not a destination, but a distributed fabric.”
A faster, more reliable and secure cloud
A new and exciting addition to the Azure platform is the increase in its interconnection speed and reduction in latency. Azure will support up to a full 10 gigabit Ethernet throughput to an Azure Virtual Network (VNet) on Microsoft Azure ExpressRoute, with the highest possible bandwidth to virtual machines (up to 25 Gbps) and a 10x reduction in latency (30 milliseconds roundtrip time). VNet peering will also be supported and was described as “the key to unlock the virtual data center,” because it will enable greater cloud scalability and agility.
ExpressRoute circuits also automatically provide two active-active connections for high availability and deliver an improved uptime service level agreement of 99.95%. Microsoft introduced enhanced security features with the Windows Defender Application Guard, which will include hardware isolation and credential protection when using the Microsoft Edge browser. Plus, the company previewed its Web Application Firewall, which will increase security to protect web applications from common vulnerabilities.
Microsoft is working to make Azure and the enterprise cloud experience as secure, reliable and high-performing as possible. These are really the cornerstones for cloud adoption, since if they can’t be ensured, many enterprises simply won’t move to the cloud.
Real-world application of Microsoft Azure cloud first strategies
With 19 Equinix global data centers supporting Azure interconnection and that number growing as Azure availability expands (it is currently in 34 regions worldwide), we see our customers and partners enabling high-performance, reliable and secure interconnection to Azure and Office365 services as part of their emerging “cloud first” strategies. Microsoft executive vice president Scott Guthrie envisions Azure as the bridge between on-premises IT infrastructures, IaaS and the cloud, delivering hybrid IT solutions to enterprises where the cloud is the edge of their on-premises servers.
An example of this paradigm is being executed by Arrow Electronics, Equinix and NetApp on Microsoft Azure, as announced last week. Arrow Electronics is a global provider of products, services and solutions to industrial and commercial users of electronic components and enterprise computing solutions. Arrow has partnered with Equinix and NetApp to develop a turnkey hybrid cloud solution for value-added resellers and managed service providers to provide to their enterprise customers.
The solution enables enterprises to enable fast and secure consumption of compute, storage and cloud services by leveraging the combined Equinix-Arrow hybrid cloud solution with a direct connection to Microsoft Azure via Equinix Cloud Exchange. It also includes the NetApp Private Storage for Microsoft Azure solution, which stores enterprise data on the customer’s private NetApp platform in Equinix data centers around the world. Applications run in Microsoft Azure and have a dedicated connection to the NetApp storage by Azure ExpressRoute connections. ExpressRoute’s private, secure, high-throughput connectivity between cloud compute and private storage resources means data can be transferred with ultra-low latency, providing the high performance to support many demanding enterprise applications.
By leveraging the compute resources in a hybrid cloud environment using the combined Arrow, Equinix, Microsoft and NetApp solution, enterprises will be able to take advantage of the benefits of the cloud, while retaining ownership of their data for security and compliance (e.g., data residency and sovereignty).
A final observation from Ignite: Microsoft is helping their customers better manage their hybrid cloud infrastructures. For example, the Microsoft Operations Management Suite (OMS) is Microsoft’s cloud-based IT management system, which can now be integrated with Microsoft System Center components for greater management of on-premises systems and public cloud environments. OMS leverages AI-based analytics to get real-time operational insights from millions of records across all of a company’s workloads and servers. It also provides operational automation and control, backup and recovery, and security and compliance capabilities.
Microsoft customers spoke to us about how impressed they were with the level of investment Microsoft is making in cloud intelligence to provide the access, visibility, control and security required by the enterprise. As the world’s largest software developer of applications and workloads, many that are destined for the cloud, Microsoft is developing a well-rounded approach to giving its customers the intelligence they require to best manage and control Microsoft Azure and Office365 hybrid cloud platforms.