• 5 min read

Why the Azure Cloud?

Looking back on AzureCon, and looking ahead to the future, including a feature that lets you Bring Your Own Licenses (BYOL) to Azure.

Last week was an exciting week for the Microsoft Azure cloud platform. We held AzureCon, one of the world’s largest virtual cloud events, and more than 150,000 of you tuned in to learn how we’re advancing the intelligent cloud for organizations of all types – from NASCAR, Jet.com and Alaska Airlines, to the United Nations Development Programme, Rockwell Automation and more. Hear first-hand from our customers about how Azure continues to help them transform their business in these videos.

At AzureCon, we outlined the road ahead for the cloud – from big data and predictive analytics, to the Internet of Things, to trends like containerization and microservices, and cutting-edge cloud infrastructure – to highlight how Azure is changing what’s possible in business today. But transformation doesn’t have to be complicated. At Microsoft, our mission is to make cloud innovation a simple and affordable reality – all while offering you the most unique value. Through consistency and seamless integration across cloud and on-premises, unmatched product capabilities, flexible pricing and best-in-class support, we are committed to making sure that Azure is the best public cloud for running Microsoft software, or any software.

A cloud at your pace

To support your journey to the cloud, we are committed to giving you the best pricing and flexible options. The Azure Compute Pre-Purchase plan, which we unveiled at AzureCon, is an example of this commitment. This new offer is designed for predictable compute workloads and can provide you up to 63 percent cost savings when you pre-purchase one year of compute. And if you’re moving a significant number of workloads to Azure, but at a moderate or less predictable pace, the new Azure Compute Option provides great pricing with more budget flexibility. Run any compute instance in Azure with discounts up to 60 percent in exchange for add-ons to your Windows Server annuity licenses. More information on these two offers is available here. In addition, we also recently announced price reductions on our popular D Series virtual machines by up to 27 percent and on our A8-11 virtual machines by up to 60 percent off standard prices. These are just a few examples of how we’re committed to giving you the best pricing and the most flexible options in our cloud.

Announcing BYOL for Azure

We also continue to hear from you the importance of enabling hybrid scenarios. This includes the use of your Microsoft software across your datacenter, Azure and third party hosted datacenters. Extending on our support to Bring Your Own Licenses (BYOL) to Azure, we are now making it possible for you to bring your existing Windows Server licenses to Azure, just as you can with other popular Microsoft products, such as SQL Server and SharePoint today. We will also make it possible for you to run Windows 10 on Azure. Simply put, we’re ensuring that Azure is the best place to run Microsoft software. Look for more details soon.

Want to learn more about the innovations that make Azure the most complete cloud experience? Check out the summary of last week’s AzureCon announcements below:

An open and flexible cloud

  • Azure Container Service is a new open source container scheduling and orchestration service that builds on Microsoft’s partnerships with Docker and Mesosphere. With Azure Container Service, you can create and manage scalable clusters of host machines onto which containerized applications can be deployed, orchestrated, and managed. Watch this video to learn more.
  • Azure HDInsight, a fully managed Apache Hadoop cluster service with a broad range of open source analytics engines including Hive, Spark, HBase and Storm is now generally available. With this release, you can now configure these clusters to run using both a Windows Server Operating System as well as an Ubuntu based Linux Operating System.

Enabling IoT and Big Data

  • Azure IoT Suite is now available for purchase. The suite leverages our cloud platform to let you easily build and scale IoT projects. In addition, the new Microsoft Azure Certified for IoT program offers you a whole ecosystem of partners whose offerings have been tested and certified to help with your IoT needs. Watch this video to learn more.
  • Cortana Analytics Suite, a fully managed big data and advanced analytics suite available to purchase. Watch this video to learn more.
  • Expanded Azure Data Lake capabilities, including Azure Data Lake Store, Data Lake Analytics and HDInsights. With Visual Studio integration, you can take advantage of simplified authoring, debugging, and optimization of big data code. We also introduced U-SQL, a new language that unifies the benefits of SQL with the expressive power of user code. Working with big data no longer requires your entire team to learn new skills before they become productive.
  • Azure SQL Data Warehouse, including recently released Power BI integration, is now broadly available as the first enterprise-class cloud data warehouse that can dynamically grow, shrink and pause compute in seconds – enabling you to pay only for the query performance you need. Watch this video to learn more.

Great performance in the cloud

  • N-series, a new family of Azure Virtual Machines with GPU capabilities, were announced and will be previewed in coming months. These VMs are based on NVidia’s M60 and K80 GPUs and designed to serve remote visualization and large scale compute scenarios. Watch this video to learn more.
  • DV2, our next generation of D-series Virtual Machine instances based on customized 2.4 GHz Intel Xeon® E5 v3 (Haswell) processors are now generally available. These instances are up to 35% faster than the current D-series instances and one of the most performant options in the public cloud today.

Trust at hyper-scale

  • New Azure regions in India – Central India in Pune South India in Chennai and West India in Mumbai – making Microsoft Azure the first hyper-scale public cloud provider in India.
  • Azure Security Center is the first-of-its-kind security service that gives you an integrated, end-to-end visibility and control of your Azure resources, helping you stay ahead of threats easily. Watch this video to learn more.
  • Financial Services Compliance Program is a new program for financial services companies to stay on top of global financial regulatory oversight and risk management requirements. Watch this video to learn more.

True hybrid cloud

  • ExpressRoute advancements including ExpressRoute for O365 and Skype for Business which is now generally available. You can take advantage of Office 365 using ExpressRoute for performance and privacy improvements in connectivity. Watch this video to learn more. We also announced the ability to connect to Microsoft Azure’s Government Cloud via ExpressRoute. Finally, new pricing plans for ExpressRoute are now available provide more flexibility in choosing the right plan based on your data usage.
  • Azure File Storage is now generally available. Azure File Store leverages the widely used SMB 3.0 protocol for secure connections with applications both on-premises and in the cloud. Watch this video to learn more.

Comprehensive, integrated app development

  • App Service Environment is generally available with a fully backed SLA for securely running and scaling all of your apps. Watch this video to learn more.
  • Azure CDN with Akamai. A new partnership with Akamai will enable integration of Akamai’s industry-leading CDN capabilities into Azure, expanding Azure CDN’s capabilities, scale and geographic reach. Watch this video to learn more about Azure CDN capabilities and our new partnership with Akamai.
  • Azure Mobile Engagement, which enables user segmentation, app user analytics, and contextually-aware smart push notifications and in-app messaging across devices to maximize app usage, retention and monetization is now generally available.
  • Live Encoding for Azure Media Services for delivery of high quality video, under a variety of network conditions, to every device for the live streaming of events – as battle-tested by Super Bowl XLIX and the 2014 Winter Olympics is now generally available. Watch this video to learn more about Azure Media Services.
  • Azure Redis Cache Premium tier is now available in public preview. This offering is an Enterprise-ready tier designed for maximum scale and enterprise integration. Premium tier includes all Standard-tier features and more, such as better performance, bigger workloads, data persistence and enhanced security.

Check out the keynotes and drilldown sessions from AzureCon to learn more about what Azure can do to enable your journey to the cloud!