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Microsoft Azure’s evolution to an Enterprise Cloud Platform

Microsoft Azure’s evolution to an Enterprise Cloud Platform
Arnab Ganguly - Associate | November 15, 2017
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Surveys from market research firms may be difficult to interpret, but there’s no denying the fact that Cloud has now become a two-horse race. Amazon Web services and Microsoft Azure are leading the race, with a lot of smaller players trailing far behind. Cloud leadership is further segmented among these two leaders by the type and volume of workloads (IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS) that customers choose to run on their ecosystems.

Among enterprises (1,000+ employees), AWS grew slightly over 2016, with the adoption now at 59 percent compared to 56 percent last year, while Microsoft Azure surged from 26 to 43 percent. Enterprises with future projects (the combination of experimenting and planning to use) show the most interest in Azure (32 percent). This blog takes an objective look at how Azure has now become the Cloud of choice when it comes to adoption by enterprise customers.

Microsoft Azure is a cloud platform comprised of infrastructure and application services, with integrated data services, advanced analytics, and developer tools and services, hosted within Microsoft’s public cloud data centers. Enterprises use Azure for many different capabilities and scenarios, from basic computer, networking, and storage, and mobile and web app services to full Cloud scenarios like the Internet of Things. It can also be used with open source technologies, and deployed as a hybrid Cloud or hosted within a customer’s data center. Notably, PaaS and SaaS offerings in Azure are far more than what other Cloud competitors offer and this has now become its most distinguishing feature, thus, driving increased consumption and growth.

Microsoft, owing to its long association with enterprise software had already established a significant footprint in almost all large enterprises in the areas of Operating Systems (Windows Client Server), Databases (SQL Server), Exchange (Active Directory), Virtualization (Hyper-V), Cloud Data Center (System Center), and Integration (BizTalk). Azure, by way of its strong hybrid Cloud capabilities, provided an easy and convenient way for these enterprises to start their Cloud journeys by enabling the migrations of incremental and newer workloads to the Cloud in the least disruptive way possible. Microsoft was also quick to make Linux and open source workloads first-class citizens on Azure. As IaaS workloads became more and more “PaaSified”, Microsoft constantly released newer and better PaaS options catering to a wide range of workloads like Web workloads (Azure Apps), Data workloads (Azure SQL Server, HDInsight, and Cosmos DB), and Visualization (PowerBI). It incrementally added capabilities of Statistical Modelling (Microsoft R Server and Python) and Machine Learning to its Azure portfolio, thereby enhancing the Business Intelligence capabilities in its offerings. The capabilities of the offerings made it apparent that Azure desired to provide an end-to-end Microsoft-provided IT stack on-prem and on the Cloud to its customers who were earlier used to stringing together a labyrinth of solutions from many different vendors.

The four pillars of Azure in 2017 are based on:

TRUST - Platform-based security approach

80% of Fortune 500 customers today trust Microsoft for leading Cloud security, privacy, compliance, transparency, and reliability.

Notable Cloud security services include:

  • Azure data centers (32 announced, 24 launched)
  • Azure Sovereign clouds (8 announced—US DoD East, US DoD West, Germany Central, Germany Northeast, 4 launched—US Gov Iowa, US Gov Virginia, China North, China South)
  • Azure security processes and operations (e.g. “Assume breach”, Red Team and Blue Team contests)
  • Azure customer agreement intellectual property terms in Microsoft Online Subscription Agreement
  • Azure service level agreements across all generally available services
  • Azure compliance across services

OPENNESS AND FLEXIBILITY - Open-source and Hybrid Cloud

Azure’s strong hybrid and open-source capabilities enables enterprises to maximize existing datacenter investments and use open-source technologies as and when needed. This enables cost optimization and is the least disruptive way to migrate to the Cloud.

Azure’s strong hybrid and opensource capabilities enables enterprises to maximize existing datacenter investments.

The notable services include:

  • Azure Stack
  • Linux distributions on Azure
  • GitHub contributions for Azure
  • Open source on Azure
  • Azure Backup · Azure Site Recovery
  • Azure ExpressRoute
  • Azure Active Directory
  • StorSimple
  • Azure SQL Server Stretch Database
  • Azure BizTalk Services
  • Azure Service Bus
  • Operations Management Suite
  • Azure Hybrid Use Benefit

APP INNOVATION - Build apps faster and easier with Azure

Azure’s application platform for building simple to complex projects within a consistent portal experience and deeply integrated Azure Cloud services can help enterprises accelerate innovation with the Cloud, so that they can proactively manage and improve systems.

  • Azure App Service (Web, Mobile, Logic, API)
  • Azure Service Fabric
  • Azure Container Service
  • Azure IoT Suite
  • Azure Marketplace
  • Azure Active Directory
  • Azure SQL Database
  • The Azure portal
  • Azure Resource Manager (export template feature built-in)
  • Operations Management Suite
  • Visual Studio Team Services
  • Visual Studio Application Insights
  • Mobile App Service
  • Xamarin
  • HockeyApp

DATA AND INTELLIGENCE – Bots, Machine learning, and cognitive services

Azure’s advanced analytics and data services can help uncover business insights for both traditional and new data sources in order to detect anomalies, predict behaviors, and recommend actions for your business.

The notable services of this Cloud computing provider include:

  • Azure IoT Suite
  • Azure Machine Learning
  • Azure Stream Analytics
  • Azure Redis Cache
  • Cortana Intelligence Suite
  • Cognitive Services
  • Bot Framework
  • Azure HDInsight
  • Azure SQL Database
  • Azure SQL Data Warehouse
  • Azure SQL Server Stretch Database
  • Power BI
  • Power BI Embedded

Microsoft Azure is today perhaps the only cloud computing provider that offers a secure and consistent Cloud platform for various teams in an enterprise to work within their different Cloud skillsets and levels of project complexity, with integrated data services and analytics that uncover intelligence from data, wherever it exists, across both Microsoft and non-Microsoft platforms, open frameworks and tools. This way, it provides the choice for integrating Cloud with on-premises as well deploying Azure Cloud services within on-premises datacenters. To learn more about how HCL can help you realize your Cloud migration or digital transformation journey, please reach out to HCL engineering and R&D services.


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