Hybrid cloud has long been lauded as the fastest path to cloud adoption for the enterprise. In its 2017 State of the Cloud survey Microsoft reports that 75% of enterprise and mid-market companies prefer hybrid cloud deployments. Hybrid cloud addresses many top digital transformation and business growth needs because it enables enterprises to leverage the more flexible, pay-as-you-go digital services of the public cloud, while maintaining on-premises infrastructures for security, data sovereignty, regulatory or other business considerations.
Amidst growing hybrid cloud industry momentum, Microsoft provided its first technical preview of Microsoft Azure Stack in January 2016. As an extension of Azure, Azure Stack brings the agility and innovation of public cloud computing to on-premises environments in an integrated hybrid cloud platform, enabling organizations to deliver Azure services from their own data centers. Scheduled for general availability in July 2017, Azure Stack gives businesses access to the rich Azure ecosystem of cloud services, empowering developers and IT organizations to do more with their on- and off-premises digital services.
Azure Stack also reduces time-to-market for new applications and workloads by allowing developers to build them across hybrid cloud environments with greater flexibility and control. Azure developers and IT organizations will have a consistent experience with Azure Stack because its development portal environment is the same code as Azure, and there is an innovative, consistent cloud API between the two clouds.
Direct and secure access to Azure clouds
Without direct and secure interconnection between on-premises IT infrastructures and public clouds on a worldwide scale, hybrid cloud environments cannot deliver the maximum value to global enterprise users. Since 2014, when it first announced the availability of Microsoft Azure ExpressRoute in its Equinix International Business Exchange™ (IBX®) data centers, Equinix has been aligned with Microsoft to provide this high-level interconnection and global access.
Today, there are 21 Equinix IBX data centers worldwide that provide thousands of businesses all around the globe with high-performance, low-latency access to Microsoft Azure and Office 365 via Azure ExpressRoute. Now Equinix is expanding its role as a critical component of Microsoft hybrid cloud solutions by integrating Azure Stack into its interconnection offerings through certified managed partners in global colocation IBX data centers. Equinix has also recently announced that it met Microsoft Gold Cloud Platform competency requirements within the Microsoft Partner Network via its Equinix Professional Services organization. This reinforces Equinix’s commitment to delivering Microsoft hybrid cloud and, in particular, Azure Stack to its customers.
Delivering the true value of hybrid cloud to digital business
To deliver real value to the business, a hybrid cloud must be:
- Operational in a timely manner in a predictable environment
- Highly secure and controlled
- Provide a superior hybrid application performance between on-premises and public cloud environments
However, these crucial factors are often not addressed during hybrid cloud project designs, a gap and typically results in poor performance or even project failure. As part of an Interconnection Oriented Architecture™ (IOA™) strategy, deployed on Platform Equinix™, businesses can directly and securely access Azure Stack hybrid cloud environments. Azure ExpressRoute enables high-performance, low-latency connections via the Equinix Performance Hub™ or Equinix Cloud Exchange™.
Equinix enables enterprises to consistently develop applications faster by leveraging a predictable and secure high-performance Azure Stack hybrid cloud interconnect fabric. In addition, an integrated, managed Microsoft, Equinix and Dell EMC Azure Stack Business Solution directly and securely interconnects Microsoft Azure ExpressRoute with Dell EMC system, storage, networking and management components. This is made possible via Equinix Performance Hub and Cloud Exchange communications hubs within Equinix IBX data centers (see diagram below).
This integrated hybrid cloud solution provides:
- Proximate, high-speed, low-latency interconnection between Microsoft Azure Stack and Azure compute resources (10 milliseconds or less) for superior application performance and user QoE
- Fast interconnection between Azure compute resources and private storage, with increased security and tighter control of on-premises storage, including localization of data for privacy and compliance
- Consistent interconnection performance between all the solutions’ components, including public cloud resources, as they are located within proximity to the same data centers
- An up to 36% increase in data throughput performance using ExpressRoute versus the public internet
Microsoft, Equinix and Dell EMC Azure Stack Business Solution
Hybrid Use Cases for Azure Stack
Several use cases are applicable to a hybrid environment leveraging Azure Stack:
- Compliance and Regulation: Develop and deploy a single global application, then migrate to Azure Stack and/or Azure to handle regulations or customer preferences with no changes to the application.
- An example of this is adhering to corporate policies regarding HIPAA.
- Edge and Disconnected Solutions: Solve for connectivity issues, while providing real-time performance, and managing large data volumes for the aggregation of analytics and big data modeling.
- Examples include remote factories, cruise ships and race tracks.
- Modern Hybrid Applications: Apply a modern architecture to on-premises applications not ready for the cloud, and, over time, move to Azure without code changes while enabling a consistent programming model, skills and processes
- Examples include on-premises mainframe, Oracle or SAP systems.
Equinix empowers enterprise customers and cloud service providers to deploy high-performance, scalable and secure hybrid cloud interconnectivity to Microsoft Azure/Office 365 platforms either in an on-premises or Equinix colocation data center. Come see us at the Microsoft Inspire Conference in Washington, DC, July 9 – 13, 2017. We’re in the Coffee House (CS2).