Looking back at Build 2017–Going “All In” on Microsoft Azure
In this post, Senior App Dev Managers, Latha Natarajan and Sujith Nair reflect on some of the improvements and announcements from Build 2017 that made it even easier to enable your cloud transformation. If you have been meaning to review the buzz from build, this post is a good place to start!
Microsoft Azure is one of the fastest growing Cloud platform today and is used by many big, medium, and small customers. One of the many reasons that customers are choosing to adopt Microsoft Azure as a cloud platform is the business benefits that it offers.
- Ability to scale on Demand – With traditional on premise data centers, the lead time to build data center capacity was several months or years and so enterprises either over-invested or had less utilization of server capacity or their applications experienced performance bottle necks due to resource constraints. So it is a big advantage that Azure was built to scale alongside a customer’s business. Azure scales up by allocating additional resources on demand and scales down by removing resources from the pool.
- Reliability – Azure is backed by Microsoft’s growing number of global data centers – available now in 34 regions across the world and with plans announced for six additional regions. Further, Microsoft offers 99.95 percent availability and 24/7 tech support and health monitoring.
- Cost – Microsoft is committed to maintain competitive pricing among the Cloud vendors. At the same time, Azure also helps an enterprise reduce cost by avoiding capital expenses involved in building huge data centers and instead use the pay-as-you-go pricing model.
- Security – Knowing that security is one of the biggest concerns for enterprises considering a move to the cloud, Microsoft has designed its compliance framework to meet regulatory requirements. Security is offered at different levels – physical data center security, security in the infrastructure, and .NET programming models that enable secured access to Cloud.
As enterprises adopt Cloud platforms, they are looking for the entire range of infrastructure services, application platforms, development tools, management tools, and business solutions that have been traditionally available on premise. Microsoft is a unique Cloud provider in the sense that it does provide this entire range of offerings and customers benefit from leveraging all of their cloud computing needs from a single vendor.
- Infrastructure Services (IaaS) – These services include Virtual machines, Virtual Network, blob storage, file storage, and Content delivery network for edge caching.
- Application Platforms (PaaS) – PaaS services include Azure web sites, SQL databases, Active Directory services, SQL data warehouse, BizTalk Services etc.
- Development Tools – These tools include Visual Studio Team Services, Application Insights, Xamarin, Power Shell etc.
- Business Solutions (SaaS) – Microsoft SaaS offering include Microsoft Office 365, Dynamics 365 (Online)
In addition, Microsoft offers some unique value proposition to its customers.
- Hybrid Cloud and Legacy apps – One of the hindrances for enterprises to go all in on cloud is the investment that they have already made on legacy infrastructure on premise. For enterprises that need to rely on legacy apps, a hybrid cloud would combine the cloud environment with their existing data center investments. Azure offers substantial support for enterprises to adopt hybrid cloud approach. Firstly, it is easy to integrate new Azure services with existing on premise applications such as SAP systems or legacy data stores. Azure allows on premise applications to use cloud services such as database and storage services. In addition, Azure also offers support for using on premise servers to run applications on the Azure stack. Further, there are a number of specific Azure offerings such as Azure Stack, SQL Server, and Azure StorSimple that help organizations to maintain and manage hybrid cloud.
- License fees and license mobility – In many cases, Microsoft allows you to avoid paying double costs and re-use the licenses that organizations have already paid through license mobility.
- Active Directory integration – Millions of enterprises around the world have adopted a world-class identity and access management solution by adopting Active Directory. With Azure Active Directory (AD), enterprises can seamlessly integrate identity and access management across their existing legacy applications on premise and new applications on the cloud.
- Visual Studio Integration – Enterprises can benefit from using a single development tool and platform by adopting Visual Studio along with ASP.net and other familiar Windows technologies to build applications across cloud, on premise, or hybrid platforms.
We have seen how Microsoft has a compelling cloud offering with Azure providing many foundational capabilities. We also discussed its unique capabilities that enable enterprises to go all-in on the Microsoft cloud platform. However, cloud is an innovative platform and developers are building new enterprises capabilities every day to meet the challenges of building next generation internet scale applications and create breakthrough experiences. In this regard, Microsoft’s announcements at Build 2017 deliver on many advanced platform features that customers are expecting today. Here were some of the top Build 2017 announcements that further align Microsoft Azure as a cloud leader and enable millions of enterprises to go all-in.
Choice of open source databases – Azure had rich SQL Server based database capabilities on the cloud. However, there are a number of organizations that are using open source databases such as MySQL and PostgreSQL for certain workloads and there was no support in Azure for these databases. At Build 2017, Microsoft announced availability of both Azure database for MySQL and Azure database for PostgreSQL options in Azure to ensure that developers can use migrate all their favorite databases to Azure. And it is also significant that these Azure database offerings can be run as a service without management head-ache.
Data at Planet Scale with Cosmos DB – Developers today are increasingly moving to NoSQL databases as the cloud-based applications increasingly scale, reach global users, and power intelligent applications. At Build 2017, Microsoft announced Azure Cosmos DB, the first globally distributed, multi-model database service delivering guaranteed uptime and millisecond latency at the 99th percentile. Customers can use Azure Cosmos DB to scale to hundreds of trillion transactions per day.
Serverless Computing – Serverless computing has become an important computing paradigm enabling developers to not have to think about the server infrastructure before writing code. At Build 2017, Microsoft announced Azure Functions Visual Studio tooling preview and other Azure Functions features that will provide a highly productive Serverless development experience.
Container approach to modernize existing applications – The ability to deploy existing applications to Azure has always been a challenge. At Build 2017, Microsoft announced a slew of features that enable enterprises to containerize existing .NET apps and deploy them to Azure.
Azure IoT Edge – Azure’s IoT capabilities thus far have been in cloud-based processing and analytics so that it can act on data from devices in the field and then push data and decisions back to those devices. However, a key gap was that the data filtering and analytics capabilities could not be done on the edge within each individual device thus limiting its applications in some scenarios such as disconnected data processing and low bandwidth scenarios. At Build 2017, Microsoft announced availability of Azure IoT Edge which will enable computation, data filtering, and analytics capabilities to not only run on the cloud but also on the edge devices.
The above innovations (and many more) announced at Build 2017 have ushered in a new era for developers to innovate and build modern cloud applications that can operate at planet scale. You can review any sessions and announcements from Build 2017, on demand here.
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