Why you should bet on Azure for your infrastructure needs, today and in the future
By Corey Sanders Corporate Vice President, Azure
7 min read
I love all the amazing things our partners and customers are doing on Azure! Adobe, for example, is using a combination of infrastructure and platform services to deliver the Adobe Experience Manager globally. HP is using AI to help improve their customer experiences. Jet is using microservices and containers on IaaS VMs to deliver a unique ecommerce experience. These three customers are just a few examples where major businesses have bet on Azure, the most productive, hybrid, trusted and intelligent cloud.
For the last few years, Infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) has been the primary service hosting customer applications. Azure VMs are the easiest to migrate from on-premises while still enabling you to modernize your IT infrastructure, improve efficiency, enhance security, manage apps better and reduce costs. And I am proud that Azure continues to be recognized as a leader in this key area.
As you are considering your movement and deployment in the cloud, I want to share a few key reasons you should bet on Azure for your infrastructure needs.
Infrastructure for every workload
We are committed to providing the right infrastructure for every workload. Across our 50 Azure regions, you can pick from a broad array of virtual machines with varying CPU, GPU, Memory and disk configurations for your application needs. For HPC workloads that need extremely fast interconnect, we have InfiniBand and for supercomputing workloads, we offer Cray hardware in Azure. For SAP HANA, we provide virtual machines up to 4 TB of RAM and provide purpose-built bare metal infrastructure up to 20 TB of RAM. Not only do we have some of the most high-powered infrastructure out there, but we also provide confidential computing capabilities for securing your data while in use. These latest computing capabilities even include quantum computing. Whether it’s Windows Server, Red Hat, Ubuntu, CoreOS, SQL, Postgres or Oracle, we support over 4,000 pre-built applications to run on this broad set of hardware. With the broad set of infrastructure we provide, enterprises such as Coats are moving their entire datacenter footprint to Azure.
Today, I am announcing some exciting new capabilities:
- Industry leading M-series VM sizes offering memory up to 12 TB on a single VM, the largest memory for a single VM in the public cloud for in-memory workloads such as SAP HANA. With these larger VM configurations, we are not only advancing the limits of virtualization in the cloud but also the performance of SAP HANA on VMs. These new sizes will be based on Intel Xeon Scalable (Skylake) processors, with more details available in the coming months.
- Newer M-series VM sizes with memory as low as 192 GB, extending M-series VM range from 192 GB to 4 TB in RAM, available now, enabling fast scale-up and scale-down with 10 different size choices. M-series VMs are certified for SAP HANA and available worldwide in 12 regions. Using Azure ARM template automation scripts for SAP HANA, you can deploy entire SAP HANA environments in just minutes compared to weeks on-premises.
- New SAP HANA TDIv5 optimized configurations for SAP HANA availability on Azure Large Instances with memory sizes of 6 TB, 12 TB, 18 TB. In addition to this, we now offer the industry-leading public cloud instance scale for SAP HANA with our new 24TB TDIv5 configuration. This extends our purpose-built SAP HANA offering to 15 different instance choices. With these new configurations, you can benefit from a lower price for TDIv5 configuration with an unparalleled 99.99% SLA for SAP HANA infrastructure and the ability to step up to larger configurations.
- New Standard SSDs provide a low-cost SSD-based Azure Disk solution, optimized for test and entry-level production workloads requiring consistent performance and high throughput. You will experience improved latency, reliability and scalability as compared to Standard HDDs. Standard SSDs can be easily upgraded to Premium SSDs for more demanding and latency-sensitive enterprise workloads. Standard SSDs come with the same industry leading durability and availability that our clients expect from Azure Disks. Learn more about Standard SSDs.
Truly consistent hybrid capabilities
When I talk with many of our customers about their cloud strategy, there is a clear need for choice and flexibility on where to run workloads and applications. Like most customers, you want to be able to bridge your on-premises and cloud investments. From VPN and ExpressRoute to File Sync and Azure Security Center, Azure offers a variety of services that help you enable, connect and manage your on-premises and cloud environments creating a truly hybrid infrastructure. In addition, with Azure Stack, you can extend Azure services and capabilities to on-premises and the edge, allowing you to build, deploy and operate hybrid cloud applications seamlessly.
Today, I’m happy to announce that we are expanding the geographical coverage of Azure Stack to meet the growing demand of the customers globally. Azure Stack will now be available in 92 countries throughout the world. Given your excitement over Azure Stack, we continue to expand opportunities for you to deploy this unique service. For a full list of the supported countries, please visit the Azure Stack overview page.
Liquid Telecom, a leading data, voice and IP provider in eastern, central and southern Africa, plans to use Azure Stack to deliver value to its customers and partners in some of the most remote parts of the world.
“We have a long history of delivering future-focused and innovative services to our customers. Microsoft Azure Stack strengthens this mission while also enabling us to deliver value to a new set of customers and partners in some of the most remote parts of Africa. By using Azure Stack, alongside Azure and ExpressRoute over our award-winning pan-African fiber network, we can now guide our customers through increasingly complex business challenges, such as data privacy, compliance and overall governance in the cloud. This helps not only us, but our entire channel of distribution and value-added partners in enhancing the customer experience on their digital journey.” David Behr, Chief Product Officer, Liquid Telecom
Built-in security and management
I frequently get asked about best practices for security and management in Azure. We have a unique set of services that make it incredibly easy for you to follow best practices whether running a single VM or 1,000s of VMs, including built-in backup, policy, advisor, security detection, monitoring, log analytics and patching. This will help you proactively protect your VMs and detect potential threats to your environment. These services are built upon decades of experience at Microsoft in delivering services across Xbox, Office, Windows and Azure with thousands of security professionals and more than 70 compliance certifications. We have also taken a leadership position on topics such as privacy and compliance to standards such as General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), ISO 27001, HIPAA and more. Last week we announced the general availability of Azure Policy which is a free service to help you control and govern your Azure resources at scale.
Today, I’m excited to announce a few additional built-in security and management capabilities:
- Disaster recovery for Azure IaaS virtual machines general availability: You likely need disaster recovery capabilities to ensure your applications are compliant with regulations that require a business continuity plan (such as ISO27001). You also may need your application to run continuously in the unlikely event of a natural disaster that could impact an entire region. With the general availability of this new service, you can configure disaster recovery within minutes, not days or weeks, with a built-in disaster recovery as a service that is unique to Azure. Learn more about how to get started by visiting our documentation.
“ASR has helped Finastra refine our DR posture through intuitive configuration of replication between Azure regions. It’s currently our standard platform for disaster recovery and handling thousands of systems with no issues regarding scale or adherence to our tight RPO/RTO requirements.” Bryan Heymann, Director of Systems & Architecture, D+H
- Azure Backup for SQL in Azure Virtual Machines preview: Today we are extending the Azure backup capability beyond virtual machines and files to also include backup of a SQL instance running on a VM. This is a zero-infrastructure backup service that provides freedom from managing backups scripts, agents, backup servers or even backup storage. Moreover, customers can perform SQL log backups with 15-minute intervals on SQL Servers and SQL Always On Availability groups. Learn more on the key benefits of this capability and how to get started.
- VM Run command: Customers can easily run scripts on an Azure VM directly from the Azure portal without having to connect to the machine. You can run either PowerShell scripts or Bash scripts and you can even troubleshoot a machine that has lost connection to the network. Learn more about Run Command for Windows and Linux.
More ways to save money, manage costs and optimize infrastructure
Given the agility offered by cloud infrastructure, I know you not only want freedom to deploy but also want tight control on your costs. You want to optimize your spending as you transition to the cloud. We can help drive higher ROI by reducing and optimizing infrastructure costs.
Azure offers innovative products and services to help reduce costs, like low priority VMs, burstable VMs, vCPU-constrained VMs for Oracle and SQL databases, and archive storage so customers can choose the right cost optimized infrastructure option for their app. Azure also uniquely offers free Cost Management so customers can manage and optimize their overall budget better.
With Azure Reserved VM Instances (RIs), you can save up to 72 percent. By combining RIs with Azure Hybrid Benefit, you can save up to 80 percent on Windows Server virtual machines, and up to 73* percent compared to AWS RIs for Windows VMs – making Azure the most cost-effective cloud to run Windows Server workloads. Customers like Smithfield Foods have been able to slash datacenter costs significantly, reduce new-application delivery time and optimize their infrastructure spend.
I hope you enjoyed this overview of some of the coolest new capabilities and services in Azure. We are constantly working to improve the platform and make a simpler and easier infrastructure service for you! Please let us know how we can make it even better.
Get started today with Azure IaaS. You can also register now to the Azure IaaS webcast I am hosting on June 18, 2018 on many of these topics.
- Sample annual cost comparison of two D2V3 Windows Server VMs. Savings based two D2V3 VMs in US West 2 Region running 744 hours/month for 12 months; Base compute rate at SUSE Linux Enterprise rate for US West 2. Azure pricing as of April 24, 2018. AWS pricing updated as of April, 24, 2018. Price subject to change.
- The 80 percent of saving is based on the combined cost of Azure Hybrid Benefit for Windows Server and 3-year Azure Reserved Instance. It does not include Software Assurance cost.
- Actual savings may vary based on location, instance type, or usage.