TechEd 2014: Microsoft steps up Azure hybrid cloud push

medium_8244072348There’s been a lot of noise coming from the OpenStack Summit 2014 this week, but that hasn’t stopped Microsoft from betting on some enterprises choosing to move their workloads onto its own proprietary hybrid cloud. And that’s the message it hammered home on the opening day of its own TechED conference in Houston yesterday.

In order for this dream to come to fruition, Microsoft needs to make it quick and easy for enterprises to migrate their data into its Azure cloud. Which is why Microsoft is now making its ExpressRoute service available to companies via partners including AT&T, BT, Equinix, Level 3, Verizon and others. ExpressRoute is a service that allows Azure customers to set up private conduits to transfer their data to and from the cloud – firms can now add this capability to existing telco contracts via their Internet providers.

Azure product blitz


As expected, Microsoft blitzed us with a range of new Azure-related products. The most interesting of these is Microsoft Azure Files, a shared file system within Azure. Microsoft Azure Files was announced by Brad Anderson, corporate vice president of cloud and enterprise for Microsoft, during his keynote yesterday, with the idea being that it provides an easy way for enterprises to connect multiple virtual machines to a single shared file.

Other announcements include the availability of a new preview of Microsoft’s Azure RemoteApp. It’s targeted at large enterprises with thousands of users – for those who don’t want their own in-house servers to field them, RemoteApp might just be the answer. Microsoft says the app is built upon more than 20 years of experience it has, alongside Citrix, in streaming remote apps to desktops.

Finally, Anderson spoke briefly about Microsoft Azure Site Recovery, the company’s re-tweaked and repackaged Hyper-V Recovery Manager. The new product will enable automated replication of VMs from customer’s own data centers, and facilitates failover should there be any major server meltdowns.

Will Microsoft tempt its customers into the cloud?


Microsoft’s cloud push is a key cornerstone of new CEO Satya Nadella’s strategy for the company. There are thousands of SMEs and large enterprises who’ve invested in its software, and most of this runs on premise. Microsoft wants to move these customers to the cloud – its cloud – but its not clear how eager they are for the move. No doubt some of this hesitation can be put down to a fear of moving to the cloud in general, but other enterprises are keenly aware of what alternative cloud options there are.

Microsoft also has Windows to think about. While it wants customers to use Azure as a repository for their workloads, it wants to protect its biggest cash-cow. Dozens of companies have already snubbed Office and Windows in favor of free Google Apps and the like, and it’s unlikely that Microsoft will be able to tempt them back into its fold.

One of Microsoft’s biggest problems is it doesn’t just have Google and AWS to contend with – there are dozens of great cloud alternatives, and many of these are on show this week at the OpenStack Summit in Atlanta.

photo credit: Jonathan Kos-Read via photopin cc