A Closer Look At Microsoft’s Intelligent Cloud

CloudCloud Management
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Microsoft showcases plethora of Azure updates at this year’s AzureCon

Microsoft has updated a large number of features surroundings its Azure cloud platform this week, focusing efforts on showing support for containers and the Internet of Things (IoT), as well as touting security upgrades.

The updates comes as Microsoft revealed it will be changing the way the company reports its financial results, lumping Azure into a category called the ‘Intelligent Cloud’, Microsoft’s future vision of cloud computing.

Judging by the angles of the updates coming out of this year’s online AzureCon conference, it’s clear to see which way Microsoft is pulling in.

IoT Suite

First up is the news that the Azure IoT Suite is now available for customers to buy. The suite integrates with a customer’s existing processes, devices and systems to help build and scale IoT projects across their business using preconfigured solutions.

microsoft“We live in a connected world, and the intelligent cloud is powering it all,” said Scott Guthrie, executive vice president of Microsoft’s Cloud and Enterprise division.

“As data and devices continue to proliferate, there is vast opportunity for businesses to tap into their data to make their applications more intelligent.

“Through our offerings across applications, data and IoT, and cloud infrastructure, we are enabling companies to innovate more easily and rapidly, using the tools and platforms they know and love.”

Containers

On to containers. Microsoft has announced an Azure Container Service that it said will combine the openness of Apache Mesos and Docker with the hyper-scale of Azure for container orchestration and management.

With the service, organisations using Azure will now be able to easily deploy and configure Mesos to cluster and schedule Dockerized applications across multiple virtual hosts.

Microsoft said that this service differs from its competitors’ because the offering is based on open source, which effectively allows customer choice across the ecosystem and will support Windows Server containers in the future.

“With large-scale production users like Airbnb, Twitter and Apple, Apache Mesos is the most scalable and flexible container orchestration platform available on the market today,” said Florian Leibert, co-founder and CEO, Mesosphere.

microsoft“At the same time, Microsoft continues its rapid growth and enterprise cloud leadership, with more than 80 percent of the Fortune 500 using Microsoft’s cloud to power their businesses.

“The partnership between Mesosphere and Microsoft will give customers unmatched choice and flexibility in managing their container investments, delivering a first-class implementation and enterprise support experience on Azure.”

Security

Security also has to be at the forefront, and Azure isn’t letting up on letting its customers know that it’s a top priority at the platform.

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The firm has announced an updated Azure Security Centre, promising an “integrated” experience that will give users control of their Azure security and help them stay ahead of threats.

Microsoft has hauled in big security names such as Cisco, Checkpoint and Trend Micro to help with the security angle, and will be live by the end of 2015.

India

Today is also the day when Microsoft’s Azure platform goes live in India. The company is boasting three regions – Central India in Pune, South India in Chennai, and West India in Mumbai – which bumps up Azure’s total global regions to 24.

Azure services are available in India today, with Office 365 services slated for availability in October, and Dynamics CRM Online services to follow in the first half of 2016.

Other announcements include a deal with NVIDIA to offer NVIDIA GPU-powered virtual machines. The VMs will support NVIDIA’s Grid 2.0 technology and join competitor Amazon’s GPU-orientated VMs.

Finally, Microsoft has jiggled its pre-payment plan to give customers a discount of up to 63 percent if they buy into a one-year contract, paying for an instance up front. This will be effective from December 1.

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