Microsoft kicked off its Ignite conference this week with some major Azure announcements. File photo.

Published: November 5th, 2019

Microsoft unveiled the preview of Azure Arc at its Ignite conference, a product that will help businesses simplify the ever-increasing complexity of cloud environments, the company said in a blog post

Azure Arc can operate on any competitor’s cloud infrastructures like Amazon Web Services and Google Cloud as long as there is a Kubernetes cluster (much like Google Cloud’s Anthos), as well as Windows and Linux servers.

For now, the only Azure services that can be used in this fashion are Azure SQL Database and Azure Database for PostgreSQL Hyperscale, but it is likely Microsoft will open this up for other Azure services soon.

“Hundreds of millions of Azure resources are organized, governed and secured daily by customers using Azure management,” said Julia White, the corporate vice-president of Azure, in today’s release. “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. Customers can now have a consistent and unified approach to managing their different environments using robust, established capabilities such as Azure Resource Manager, Azure Shell, Azure Portal, API, and Azure Policy.”

Microsoft previewed Azure Arc at its Ignite conference this week. Credit: Tom Li

This will allow admins a unified manner in which to handle things like auditing and compliance while allowing developers to build containerized apps and deploy them across multiple environments. All of this will be done right from the Azure interface, meaning all of those actions will look and feel just like they did in Azure.

John Chirapurath, the general manager for Azure data, blockchain, and artificial intelligence at Microsoft, said that this was borne of the fact that Microsoft acknowledges that its customers are not just operating on Microsoft infrastructure and that much of their data may still be stored in their own legacy systems.

Chirapurath said that this will allow customers to operate in that fashion while still being able to leverage Azure’s capabilities and security safeguards, no matter where they are operating.

We are offering our customers the ability to take their services, untethered from Azure, and run them inside their own datacenter or in another cloud,” Chirapurath said.

In a separate announcement, Microsoft launched new features and form factors for Azure Stack Edge, FPGA support for AI-enabled edge apps, and hardware appliances with built-in GPU.

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