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Microsoft outlines vision for Azure with new services

Thor Olavsrud | Oct. 23, 2014
Microsoft puts the pressure on cloud competitors Amazon and Google with a slate of new Azure offerings, including a 'cloud-in-a-box' hardware appliance geared for on-premises hybrid deployments.

microsoft guthrie azure
Scott Guthrie, executive vice president, Microsoft Cloud and Enterprise group, shows how Microsoft differentiates Azure. Credit: James Niccolai/IDG News Service

At an event in San Francisco, Microsoft made a series of announcements around Microsoft Azure, further cementing its position as a core of Microsoft's business going forward.

"We are well and truly in this mobile-first, cloud-first world," CEO Satya Nadella says noting that by "mobile-first," Microsoft refers not so much to your devices as the mobility of your experience -- one that follows you as you move through the day, regardless of the device you happen to be on at the time.

Nadella and Scott Guthrie, executive vice president of Cloud and Enterprise at Microsoft, took the stage to outline where Microsoft Azure stands and the new offerings that it's leaning on to differentiate itself from its cloud competitors, namely Amazon and Google.

Microsoft Cloud Platform System: 'Cloud in a Box'
One of the biggest new plays in Microsoft's arsenal is the new Microsoft Cloud Platform System (CPS), an integrated hardware and software offering that brings together Azure, Windows Server and Microsoft System Center for an "Azure-consistent cloud in a box." Leveraging hardware from Dell and software from Microsoft, CPS is an on-premises appliance intended to simplify the deployment of hybrid cloud solutions. The partners plan to make CPS available Nov. 3.

On the public cloud side, Guthrie announced that Microsoft will make Azure generally available in Australia next week. By the end of 2014, he says, Microsoft Azure will be operational in 19 regions around the world, which he notes is at least double the number of any other public cloud provider, including Amazon and Google.

Microsoft also puts pressure on those two competitors with the new G-series of virtual machines and premium storage for Azure. Powered by the latest Intel Xeon processors, the G-series is optimized for data workloads. It features up to 32 CPU cores, 450 GB RAM and a 6.5 TB local SSD. It can be combined with premium storage to provide up to 32 TB of storage per virtual machine and more than 50,000 IOPS per virtual machine with less than 1ms latency.

"Our largest G-series has more than twice the amount of memory as the largest AWS virtual machine," Guthrie says.

Guthrie also announced the new Azure Marketplace, which will let Azure customers search for and deploy their favorite operating system, including five flavors of Linux, as well as services or applications, with just a few clicks. To round out the Azure Marketplace, Microsoft is making CoreOS, the popular container-based Linux OS, available to all Azure customers.


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