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Azure Arc: A Relevant Answer to the Challenges of Operating Across Multi-Cloud Environments

A truly customer-centric company is one that can lend an ear to its customers’ needs and challenges, and strive to deliver experiences that alleviate them. In what comes as an iconic move by Microsoft, the technology conglomerate announced the launch of Azure Arc at its recently concluded conference, IGNITE 2019.

Azure Arc comes as an answer to one of the most critical dilemmas being faced by organizations working across multi-cloud, on-premise and the edge: management and governance of complex and distributed environments.

So what really is Azure Arc?

As Julia white, the Azure Corporate Vice President puts it, “it is the next phase of hybrid capabilities that enables Azure services and cloud practices wherever you need in a consistent way”.

Azure Arc breaks down the silos working across multiple environments and makes the capabilities of Azure Resource Manager, Azure Shell, Azure API and Azure Policy available across any infrastructure. This simply means that resources on multiple cloud, on-premise and the edge can be managed and governed from a single unified control point on the Azure control plane, creating a far more efficient and secure way of managing virtual machines, servers, and Kubernetes clusters.

Microsoft, in fact, goes all-in by allowing customers to run data services anywhere and bring Azure innovation to any infrastructure and cloud provider. The company’s earlier move from its orchestration platform to container technology seems to have paid off here. Kubernetes is the primary source for the flexibility that Azure Arc is promising in deploying complex, multi-service applications across any infrastructure. Currently, Azure SQL Database and Azure Database for PostgreSQL Hyperscale are the only database products available on Azure Arc and Microsoft is expected to extend the services over time.

One of the standout benefits that Azure Arc delivers is the capability to adopt cloud practices on-premises. It allows Azure SQL Database to run on the customer’s hardware yet allowing the management to take place from the cloud. In a very similar way, servers when connected to Azure becomes a resource and can be managed through the Azure Resource Manager. This consistency in management is a gift to the IT managers who will now have more flexibility in terms of managing their human skill-sets as well.

Moreover, Azure Arc puts Azure cloud at the center of all the multi-cloud deployments. This lets the IT teams manage applications across any infrastructure centrally through the Azure platform itself, cracking down one of the greatest challenges that came with going multi-cloud: a lack of visibility.

Azure Arc to replace Azure Stack?

The answer is no. Azure Stack is another one of Microsoft’s hybrid capability and has now, in fact, evolved to include a family of products: Azure Stack Hub, Azure Edge and Azure Stack HCI. Azure Stack Hub is the new name of Azure Stack and is ideal for cloud-native environments. The most interesting aspect of this offering is that it can now work well with and without the internet. Azure Stack HCI has been optimized for legacy systems and connects back to Azure while Edge, which is a new addition to the family, has been designed for effective data processing and AI inferencing.

 

Conclusion…

Among the numerous other announcements that Microsoft made at IGNITE 2019, one that stood out as a game-changer for me is definitely the Azure Arc. Though it comes after Google Cloud’s Anthos, Azure Arc stands out for its unique approach and design. The product has not been released yet nor has the pricing been announced. However, as is typical of Microsoft, the company is expected to garner feedback from early adopters and make course corrections before the actual release.

Technology Evangelist
Anita Raj
Team @MSExchangeGuru
 

 

 

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