Enabling Hybrid Multicloud Architectures with Azure Arc

Equinix and Microsoft deliver integration and performance across hybrid infrastructures

Víctor Martínez Abizanda

More and more companies are using hybrid technology to distribute their applications anywhere in the world, combining on-premises data center infrastructure with private and/or public clouds. In this way, companies are able to leverage their investments in their local infrastructure while enjoying the innovation introduced by cloud computing.

With the natural growth in the number of applications distributed in various geographic locations, the complexity of managing them increases, as does guaranteeing the necessary security, without putting the whole organization at risk. Furthermore, if the management of the different environments lacks consistency, companies’ costs and security exposure could grow exponentially.

Public cloud providers on Platform Equinix® have already taken action and designed solutions to ensure that companies have full control of their hybrid multicloud infrastructure no matter what it consists of or where it is deployed.

Equinix Cloud Exchange Fabric™

Equinix Cloud Exchange Fabric (ECX Fabric™) directly, securely and dynamically connects distributed infrastructure and digital ecosystems on Platform Equinix®. Establish data center-to-data center network connections on demand between any two ECX Fabric locations within a metro or globally via software-defined interconnection.

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Microsoft has responded to this need with Azure Arc, presented at the end of the year at Ignite 2019. Azure Arc is a set of different technologies that provide management and control options for Azure services, whatever the infrastructure is: on-premises, other private and public clouds, or edge devices.

Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s CEO, had no hesitation in stating that “Azure Arc really marks the beginning of this new era of hybrid computing where there is a control plane, built for multicloud, multi-edge. And not only that, but we for the first time support managed data services to be anywhere your compute is. So, again, managed data services that are multicloud, multi-edge.” Here, he is talking about a clear commitment from Microsoft to facilitate the digital transition of companies that have not yet committed to extending their systems beyond a single environment.

The key to Azure Arc is that it enables the extension of Azure Resource Manager (ARM) functionalities to different solutions that currently make up an IT platform, providing Azure’s tools to manage and govern the different environments with the use of typical cloud solutions, such as DevOps techniques.

In addition, at last month’s Microsoft Inspire partner conference, Microsoft announced that its new Azure Stack HCI (hyperconverged infrastructure) solution is now a fully integrated, native Azure service. This will provide customers with the latest security, performance and hybrid enhancements, including monitoring multiple clusters at scale, and viewing and managing virtual machines (VMs) running on Azure Stack HCI, leveraging Azure Arc.[i]

Public cloud providers on Platform Equinix® have already taken action and designed solutions to ensure that companies have full control of their hybrid multicloud infrastructure.

Resources available in Azure Arc

The options available at the time of the release of Azure Arc are multiple and explore the core areas of any current IT platform. Thanks to tools such as Azure Arc, companies can solve the governance challenges of a distributed, heterogeneous infrastructure, where interconnection is key to ensuring the proper functioning of the resources deployed in a decentralized manner.

Linux and Windows Servers

No matter the flavor of your servers’ OS, thanks to Azure Arc it is possible to integrate your physical and virtual machines into the Azure ecosystem and manage their access and apply policies in the same way you would with native resources hosted in the Microsoft cloud. It requires the installation of an agent and the installation script can be executed individually or at scale to integrate the servers of your hybrid platform to the Azure Arc console in a short amount of time.

Kubernetes Clusters

Azure Arc gives you the possibility to connect Kubernetes clusters on-premises or in other cloud providers to Azure for a unified management experience. As discussed in the article, “Is Just One Kubernetes Cluster Enough?”, with Kubernetes you have the potential and flexibility to expand clusters into hybrid or multicloud environments, and  tools like Azure Arc make it easier to manage these distributed infrastructures. Arc provides the necessary functionalities of Azure to manage and control its clusters with services such as: Azure Monitor, Azure Resource Graph or Azure Policy. This simplifies maintenance tasks by unifying security, vision and control tools.

Data Services

Azure Arc allows you to run certain Azure data services for both multicloud and hybrid environments, using Kubernetes as the base infrastructure. Thanks to this foundation, you can access functionalities such as elastic scaling in any environment without application downtime. This service can be integrated with Azure SQL Managed Instances and Azure Database for PostgreSQL Hyperscale. Azure Arc for Data Services promises to be a very powerful tool for data management on a global scale.

Equinix value for Azure Arc users

There is no direct dependency between interconnection and the performance of Azure Arc. However, the adoption of this tool for a company is equivalent to the use of distributed architectures and workloads that will require optimal interconnection to provide security and performance while ensuring low latency.

Equinix brings differentiating value to companies that decide to take a step toward a renewed architecture, thanks to its worldwide presence and Equinix Cloud Exchange Fabric™ (ECX Fabric™) software-defined interconnection and Microsoft Azure ExpressRoute. ECX Fabric with Azure ExpressRoute directly connects on-premises systems and those in the cloud in a fast, private and secure way across Equinix’s global platform. As one of the largest Microsoft Azure ExpressRoute partners, Equinix customers can access Azure and Microsoft 365 applications in more than 26 metros over high-speed (up to 10G), low-latency connections. Microsoft Azure ExpressRoute connections bypass the internet and deliver greater reliability, faster speeds, consistent latencies and higher security than typical connections over the public internet. Direct and secure interconnection to Azure on Platform Equinix can reduce network latency by over 40%.

In the same way, solutions like Packet bare metal, add advantages such as flexibility, automation, scalability and cost savings to hybrid IT infrastructures. Their value is also reinforced from hybrid multicloud governance solutions such as Azure Arc because  they strengthen the basis for hybrid environments with all the benefits that they provide to on-premises deployments.

With Azure Arc, Microsoft has taken a novel approach to hybrid and multicloud resource management. Arc provides a strong foundation between your on-premises infrastructure and public cloud, enabling the excecution of workloads in both environments by providing a single control panel. In concert with its deep network integration to Azure, Equinix provides a valuable platform for hybrid and multicloud management to deliver the tools necessary to move steadily toward modernizing your hybrid IT environment.

Learn more by learning about ECX Fabric.

 

You may also be interested in reading:

Equinix Speeds Access to Azure and Microsoft 365 for Remote Workers

Microsoft Inspire Focus: Accelerating Applications on Azure

5 Strategies for Migrating Workloads to Microsoft Azure

 

[i] Microsoft, “Deliver hybrid cloud capabilities with the next generation of Azure Stack HCI,” July 21, 20202.