At Microsoft Inspire 2023, I’m excited to hear from our partners, who are an integral part of our edge offerings and how we deliver value to customers. We live in a globally distributed world that is more connected than at any point in history, and organizations across the planet and across industries want to connect their operations to the cloud, embrace AI, and manage technology at scale with lower cost and less complexity.

One of the greatest challenges our customers face in their digital transformation journeys today is how to deliver cloud-connected experiences reliably across a globally distributed footprint that extends to where they live, work, and make decisions. They look for solutions that are simple, secure, and observable, either in retail brick-and-mortar stores with no technical staff or factories spread across multiple continents, so they can make local, real-time decisions and draw insights from aggregated data. Every industry has a unique set of business and operational needs that rely on a combination of cloud resources, on-premises servers, and datacenters, often from distributed offices and remote sites.

Microsoft Azure is a unified cloud-to-edge platform that enables our customers to span their global footprint, organizational boundaries, and complex operations out in the real world. Our goal is to make it easier for our customers and partners to bring just enough of Azure’s cloud-born capabilities wherever they need them. We deliver these capabilities from the cloud to the customer’s edge through a portfolio of cloud-to-edge services, tools, and infrastructure enabled by Azure Arc. With Azure Arc, customers can connect their on-premises, edge, and multicloud resources to Azure, deploy Azure native services on those resources, and extend Azure services to the edge.

Delivering cloud-native agility anywhere

Carnival Corporation is simplifying its distributed operations by using Azure to manage its complex physical environments.

Carnival Corporation’s operations span from their corporate headquarters in Miami, Florida to their portfolio of brands, operating 92 cruise ships sailing from more than 700 ports and destinations. Each vessel generates mountains of data while it serves every need of thousands of guests at a time while also traversing global waterways and the unpredictability that goes with it. Every hour across their vast and dynamic network, Carnival Corporation must coordinate a myriad of business functions—from supporting 160,000 team members with training and pay, to keeping more than 300,000 customers and crew safe. With these inherently complex operations, every vessel must be tracked, fueled, supplied, and staffed as they move about the world.  

To streamline their global operations, Carnival Corporation is deploying an array of Azure technologies, including Azure Arc. These technologies extend cloud computing beyond the four walls of the datacenter out to the edge—bringing cloud-native capabilities to ships, giving them a consistent operations and management platform that can fully manage services from ashore in the cloud, but also onboard their vessels.

Carnival Corporation’s digital transformation with Azure is making a positive impact on the operations and safety of its ships and their crews. Ultimately, Carnival Corporation’s customers reap the benefits from more efficient back-end operations and fewer disrupted itineraries with ships adjusting more easily to weather, scheduling, or navigational challenges to reach their destinations on time.

“When our guests have a wonderful experience on a Carnival Corporation ship, it’s the result of enormous behind-the-scenes management that now all occurs on Azure,”

—Franco Caraffi, IT Director, Global Maritime and Environmental Compliance at Carnival Corporation.
A Holland America ship, one of Carnival Corporation’s nine brands, cruising in front of the Seattle skyline.

Our partners are key to customer success at the edge

Customers, like Carnival Corporation, have operations across many locations and typically have existing infrastructure that must be supported to drive cloud-native agility to the edge. This is where partners, from original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to independent software vendors (ISVs) to system integrators (SIs), play a critical role in easing adoption of cloud innovation and successfully turning cloud capabilities into business impact.

Microsoft is forging industry partnerships with infrastructure leaders that simplify and accelerate customers’ ability to take advantage of cloud capabilities. With Dell Technologies, we recently announced the Dell APEX Cloud Platform for Azure. As a result of engineering collaboration between Microsoft and Dell, it natively integrates with Azure to provide a turnkey experience to customers, including simplified deployment, consistent management, and orchestration capabilities for Azure Arc enabled infrastructure.

Partner collaborations like this help tighten the gaps that naturally occur when customers bring Azure together with their existing infrastructure, resulting in a more secure and consistent customer experience.

Simplifying operations, management, and security across distributed environments

Another important aspect of edge solutions is security. Our cloud-to-edge approach helps organizations unify security across multicloud deployments, datacenters, and thousands of remote edge sites with heterogeneous assets using trusted cloud-scale services such as Microsoft Defender for Cloud, Azure Monitor, Azure Policy, and more.

For more than 30 years, customers have trusted Windows Server and SQL Server as foundational platforms for their mission-critical workloads. At Microsoft Inspire 2023, we are announcing the availability of Extended Security Updates (ESU), enabled by Azure Arc, to streamline migration and modernization of server environments. With the upcoming end-of-support for Windows Server 2012/2012 R2 and SQL Server, customers will be able to purchase and seamlessly deploy the ESUs in on-premises or multicloud environments right from the Azure portal. ESUs enabled by Azure Arc give customers a cloud consistent way to help secure and manage their on-premises environments, starting with Windows Server and SQL Server, with a flexible model that enables them to plan their modernization, migration, or upgrade.

Learn how Azure Arc can help secure and manage cloud-to-edge operations

We want to make it easier for our customers and partners across every industry to harness the power of today’s technological advances to solve their biggest challenges. Whether you are a partner building cloud integrated solutions for on-premises deployments, or a customer looking to transform operations cloud-to-edge, Azure Arc can help you extend just enough Azure from the cloud to the edge to meet your needs. Today, you can take advantage of Azure Arc to secure and manage your distributed environments and drive innovation anywhere with Azure.

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