We are a few days away from kicking-off Microsoft Inspire 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. It is an event I look forward to every year. This year however is a special year to celebrate the momentum we have with our partners for Microsoft Azure Stack. At Microsoft Inspire 2017, we had a couple of sessions for Azure Stack. They were both completely full, including the overflow rooms! I thought I would take this moment to reflect on our first year of launch and share a quick view on the opportunities ahead.
A year ago, we announced the general availability of Azure Stack, with the vision that Azure Stack is an extension of Azure and enables a truly consistent hybrid cloud platform. Including the ability to decide where applications and workloads should run whether it be cloud, on-premises datacenters, or at the edge. In fact since launch, we have seen some amazing scenarios where customers are using Azure Stack in remote, often disconnected, environments to deliver value to businesses and communities. And, our partners have been instrumental in unlocking such new possibilities for customers.
For example iMOKO, New Zealand’s digital health charity, decided to use Azure Stack to make their healthcare application accessible to the children with unmet health need. Revera, a leading cloud service provider, is hosting Azure Stack in their datacenter to enable clients like iMOKO.
“Since using Microsoft Azure Stack, we’ve had a significant improvement in the performance of the iMOKO application. It runs really fast and well, even in rural and remote areas. The key reason for choosing the Azure Stack with Revera was around the accessibility of the iMOKO application out to our community of users being teachers, parents, volunteers, and partners. It was also around the reliability and trustworthiness in the healthcare setting” – Jodi Mitchell, CEO, iMOKO
“With Azure Stack hosted in our datacenter, we can begin to solve issues such as latency considerations and data sovereignty concerns. Furthermore, being able to connect to the Azure framework is critical to enable customers to maximize their potential and really leverage cloud capabilities.” – Dan Fairbairn, Business Development Manager, Revera
We are seeing existing Azure customers acquire Azure Stack and use it to complement Azure for scenarios of strict data residency requirements, or where network bandwidth and latency prevent real-time processing needed for critical infrastructure or applications like factory floors, and health care environments. Consistency between Azure and Azure Stack is the pillar that makes these scenarios achievable.
We’ve worked closely with our partners since launch to deliver innovation to Azure Stack and build an outstanding ecosystem of partners worldwide to help our joint customers with their needs.
Continuous innovation with new ecosystem solutions across Azure and Azure Stack
Our partner ecosystem is broad and provides a wide range of services as delivered by ISVs, Managed Service Providers (MSPs), and System Integrators (SIs).
Here are just some of the ISV partners extending their Azure applications and services to Azure Stack.
- Cloud Assert Azure Stack billing solution enables cross-cloud end-to-end usage, billing, and commerce platform in a single management plane.
- Confluent provides an Apache Kafka-based streaming platform that enables hybrid cloud streaming on Azure Stack for intelligent Edge and Intelligent Cloud initiatives.
- Exivity offers billing automation solution making it a breeze to gain fine-grained financial insights into Azure spend on Azure Stack.
- F5 support for Azure Stack means BIG-IP runs identically in both Azure and Azure Stack empowering customers to enhance the ‘hybridity’ of their architectures through replication of the supporting application services across environments.
- GridPro offers EvOps for Azure Stack and helps datacenters get control of their workloads in Azure Stack. EvOps is seamlessly integrated with Azure Stack and delivers Azure Marketplace integration with custom offerings, workflows, and approvals.
Growing hardware partner ecosystem providing more choice to customers and partners
To best meet customer requirements, we have focused on two parallel areas of investments: Adding features and functionality to the Azure Stack platform, and growing a diverse partner ecosystem so our customers have a wide array of Azure stack offers, solutions, and services that best match their needs.
- We are pleased to welcome Fujitsu into the hardware partner ecosystem, with an announcement earlier this year about their Azure Stack solution, which we expect to be available later in the upcoming year.
- Huawei recently announced the global availability of their Azure Stack solution, Hybrid Cloud Solution for Microsoft Azure Stack, generating new demand across the globe.
- There’s consistent innovation from the rest of the hardware partners, including Cisco, Dell EMC, Lenovo, HPE and Terra – and you’ll hear more about this at Inspire this year.
- Azure Stack is also now available in 92 countries/regions across the globe, meaning our customers have more choice and flexibility to create hybrid solutions through Azure Stack than ever before.
I am super excited about the opportunities our partners have with Azure Stack and how it complements Azure by bringing new hybrid cloud scenarios to our customers.
As the customer base for Azure Stack is growing, so is the opportunity represented by the diverse needs for these customers. Your role as a partner can cover one or all of the phases in the journey of an Azure Stack Customer.
- Assessment and Discovery: In this phase you are discovering customer needs, and proposing solutions that can drive digital transformation outcomes of engaging customers, empowering employees, optimizing operation, and transforming products.
- Solution planning and design: This is an in-depth architecture engagement with customers to plan, design and build solutions using Azure Stack, Azure, and customer IT assets.
- Solution build-out and deployment: Work with customers and hardware partners to deploy Azure Stack, and the development of the solution for the customer.
- Management and support: This is where you continue a trusted relationship with customers to support the customer and have a managed services contract to continue to realize value.
If you are attending Microsoft Inspire 2018, please join us in our Azure Stack session to hear more about this great opportunity in our industry today! We would also like to share how you can begin this journey with us and prepare your sales and technical teams for engagement with customers on the value of Azure Stack.