Organizations will be able to run Azure services on AWS, Google Cloud
Microsoft is taking another step to address the growing adoption of hybrid cloud and multicloud environments with Azure Arc, which will enable organizations to run Azure management tools and data services not only in their own data centers but also on rival cloud infrastructures from the likes of Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Google Cloud.
The Lowdown: Azure Arc was one of several announcements around Azure that Microsoft made this week at its Ignite event that are aimed at growing hybrid cloud capabilities and extending the reach of Azure out to the edge.
The Details: With Azure Arc, organizations can leverage containers and Kubernetes to develop applications and manage them across myriad infrastructures, including their own on-premises data centers – whether on Windows or Linux servers or Kubernetes clusters – and other cloud environments. They also can use Azure Arc to extend cloud security across these environments via centralized role-based access control and policies.
Azure Arc was introduced in preview form and right now only Azure SQL Database and Database for PostgreSQL Hyperscale services can be used on other infrastructure providers, though that list promises to grow in the future.
Other Azure-related announcements at Ignite include:
> More hybrid cloud: New Azure Stack Hub services touch on backup and recovery, Kubernetes, stream analytics, cloud database management, and virtual desktops.
> The edge: Azure Stack Edge is a managed edge appliance that leverages artificial intelligence (AI), Nvidia GPUs, virtual machine support, multiple nodes for high availability, and multi-access edge compute (MEC) to run Azure services at the edge.
The Impact: Microsoft, fresh off its surprise win of the $10 billion Department of Defense JEDI contract, is pushing to carve into AWS’ dominant position in the public cloud space. With Azure Arc, enterprises can now run Azure services in many more environments, an important capability given that more organizations use at least two public clouds in their growing hybrid cloud environments. For SMBs, Arc offers a more cost-effective way to bring Azure services into their own data centers. MSPs can now offer their customers the capability of running Azure services in a broad array of on-premises or cloud infrastructures.
Background: Azure Arc marks the latest move by a major cloud service provider to extend the reach of its public cloud environment to embrace the hybrid cloud trend. AWS is moving forward with its Outposts on-premises infrastructure that connects customer to their AWS environment, while Google’s Anthos enables organizations to run Google Cloud services in their data centers. Microsoft has had Azure Stack, which can be deployed on hardware from the likes of Dell EMC and Hewlett-Packard Enterprise, in on-premises data centers, and Azure Arc is an extension of that capability.
Azure Arc also builds off of Microsoft’s growing cloud partnerships with such vendors as Oracle and SAP.
The Buzz: “Hundreds of millions of Azure resources are organized, governed and secured daily by customers using Azure management. Azure Arc extends these proven Azure management capabilities to Linux and Windows servers, as well as Kubernetes clusters on any infrastructure across on-premises, multi-cloud, and edge,” Julia White, corporate vice president of Microsoft Azure, wrote in a blog post. “Customers can now have a consistent and unified approach to managing different environments using robust, established capabilities such as Azure Resource Manager, Microsoft Azure Cloud Shell, Azure Portal, API, and Microsoft Azure Policy. With Azure Arc, developers can build containerized apps with the tools of their choice and IT teams can ensure that the apps are deployed, configured, and managed uniformly using GitOps-based configuration management. Finally, Azure Arc makes it easier to implement cloud security across environments with centralized role-based access control and security policies.”
“Delivering hybrid cloud IT services to customers that span on-premises, private cloud, and public cloud providers has not been without its challenges. Providing a single portal across all environments, portability for applications, and consistency in the way platforms are provisioned has always been a pipe dream for most MSPs until now,” said Gordon McKenna, CTO of public cloud at Ensono, an MSP. “Azure Arc marks the next generation of Azure services and brings with it the ability to deploy key Azure services on any kind of platform, including on-premises as well as rival public clouds. For customers who run applications across distributed systems, this means being able to expand the application footprint to edge devices and hosted or public cloud platforms, opening up more compelling or efficient ways of architecting applications. For service providers, this brings the ability to allow a customer to expand into other platforms quickly and consistently with one interface, drastically lowering the cost of operations. For Microsoft, this allows them to bring their award-winning Azure platform back into the data center, finally recognizing that many clients will remain hybrid for years to come.”