Run Windows Server and SQL Server workloads seamlessly across your hybrid environments

Posted on 30 July, 2019

General Manager, Microsoft Azure

In recent weeks, we’ve been talking about the many reasons why Windows Server and SQL Server customers choose Azure. Security is a major concern when moving to the cloud, and Azure gives you the tools and resources you need to address those concerns. Innovation in data can open new doors as you move to the cloud, and Azure offers the easiest cloud transition, especially for customers running on SQL Server 2008 or 2008 R2 with concerns about end of support. Today we’re going to look at another critical decision point for customers as they move to the cloud. How easy is it to combine new cloud resources with what you already have on-premises? Many Windows Server and SQL Server customers choose Azure for its industry leading hybrid capabilities.

Microsoft is committed to enabling a hybrid approach to cloud adoption. Our commitment and passion stems from a deep understanding of our customers and their businesses over the past several decades. We understand that customers have business imperatives to keep certain workloads and data on premises, and our goal is to meet them where they are and prepare them for the future by providing the right technologies for every step along the way. That’s why we designed and built Azure to be hybrid from the beginning and have been delivering continuous innovation to help customers operate their hybrid environments seamlessly across on-premises, cloud and edge. Enterprise customers are choosing Azure for their Windows Server and SQL Server workloads. In fact, in a 2019 Microsoft survey of 500 enterprise customers, when those customers were asked about their migration plans for Windows Server, they were 30 percent more likely to choose Azure.

Customers trust Azure to power their hybrid environments

Take Komatsu as an example. Komatsu achieved 49 percent cost reduction and nearly 30 percent performance gain by moving on-premises applications to Azure SQL Database Managed Instance and building a holistic data management and analytics solutions across their hybrid infrastructure.

Operating a $15 billion enterprise, Smithfield Foods slashed datacenter costs by 60 percent and accelerated application delivery from two months to one day using a hybrid cloud model built on Azure. Smithfield has factories and warehouses often in rural areas that have less than ideal internet bandwidth. It relies on Azure ExpressRoute to connect their major office locations globally to Azure to gain the flexibility and speed needed.

The government of Malta built a complete hybrid cloud eco-system powered by Azure and Azure Stack to modernize its infrastructure. This hybrid architecture, combined with a robust billing platform and integrated self-service backup, brings new level of flexibility and agility to the Maltese government operations, while also providing citizens and businesses more efficient services that they can access whenever they want.

Let’s look at some of Azure’s unique built-in hybrid capabilities.

Bringing the cloud to local datacenters with Azure Stack

Azure Stack, our unparalleled hybrid offering, lets customers build and run cloud-native applications with Azure services in their local datacenters or in disconnected locations. Today, it’s available in 92 countries and customers like Airbus Defense & Space, iMOKO, and KPMG Norway are using Azure Stack to bring cloud benefits on-premises.

We recently introduced Azure Stack HCI solutions so customers can run virtualized applications on-premises in a familiar way and enjoy easy access to off-the-shelf Azure management services such as backup and disaster recovery.

With Azure, Azure Stack, and Azure Stack HCI, Microsoft is the only cloud provider in the market that offers a comprehensive set of hybrid solutions.

Modernizing server management with Windows Admin Center

Windows Admin Center, a modern browser-based application free of charge, allows customers to manage Windows Servers on-premises, in Azure, or in other clouds. With Windows Admin Center, customers can easily access Azure management services to perform tasks such as disaster recovery, backup, patching, and monitoring. Since its launch just over a year ago, Windows Admin Center has seen tremendous momentum, managing more than 2.5 million server nodes each month.

Screenshot of the Windows Admin Center - Azure Hybrid Center

Easily migrating on-premises SQL Server to Azure

Azure SQL Database is a fully managed and intelligent database service.  SQL Database is evergreen, so it’s always up to date: no more worry about patching, upgrades or End of Support. Azure SQL Database Managed Instance has the full surface area of the SQL Server database engine in Azure. Customers use Managed Instance to migrate SQL Server to Azure without changing the application code. Because the service is consistent with on-premises SQL Server, customers can continue using familiar features, tools and resources in Azure.

With SQL Database Managed Instance, customers like Komatsu, Carlsberg Group, and AllScripts were able to quickly migrate SQL databases to Azure with minimal downtime and benefit from built-in PaaS capabilities such as automatic patching, backup, and high availability.

Connecting hybrid environments with fast and secure networking services

Customers build extremely fast private connections between Azure and local infrastructure, allowing both to and through access using Azure ExpressRoute at bandwidths up to 100 Gbps. Azure Virtual WAN makes it possible to quickly add and connect thousands of branch sites by automating configuration and connectivity to Azure and for global transit across customer sites, using the Microsoft global network.

Customers are also taking full advantage of services like Azure Firewall, Azure DDoS Protection, and Azure Front Door Service to secure virtual networks and deliver the best application performance experience to users.

Managing anywhere access with a single identity platform

Over 90 percent of enterprise customers use Active Directory on-premises. With Azure, customers can easily connect on-premises Active Directory with Azure Active Directory to provide seamless directory services for all Office 365 and Azure services. Azure Active Directory gives users a single sign-on experience across cloud, mobile and on-premises applications, and secures data from unauthorized access without compromising productivity.

Innovating continuously at the edge

Customers are extending their hybrid environments to the edge so they can take on new business opportunities. Microsoft has been leading the innovation in this space. The following are some examples.

Azure Data Box Edge provides a cloud managed compute platform for containers at the edge, enabling customers to process data at the edge and accelerate machine learning workloads. Data Box Edge also enables customers to transfer data over the internet to Azure in real-time for deeper analytics, model re-training at cloud scale or long-term storage.

At Microsoft Build 2019, we announced Azure SQL Database Edge as available in preview, to bring SQL engine to the edge. Developers will now be able to adopt a consistent programming surface area to develop on a SQL database and run the same code on-premises, in the cloud, or at the edge.

Get started – Integrate your hybrid environments with Azure

Check out the resources on Azure hybrid such as overviews, videos, and demos so you can learn more about how to use Azure to run Windows Server and SQL Server workloads successfully across your hybrid environments.