Azure And The Hybrid Cloud

Cloud computing has three main, often interconnected types of services – Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Software as a Service (SaaS).

  • IaaS – a way of delivering Cloud-based infrastructure - servers, storage, network and operating systems - as an on-demand service securely over IP. Companies don’t have to buy hardware or software to scale their infrastructure.
  • PaaS – a platform that allows the creation of web applications or software quickly and easily and without the complexity of buying and maintaining the software and infrastructure underneath it – it is the most complex of the three services.
  • SaaS – software deployed over the Internet, like Microsoft Office 365 or, whereby you login to your software services from the web. It’s probably the most widely understood of the three cloud services.

Cloud services are deployed in three different environments – Public, Private and Hybrid cloud environments.

  • Public cloud – a “pay as you go” model, whereby you tap into multi-tenant cloud services – servers, storage, etc. – and someone else (Atmosera) manages everything for you.
  • Private cloud – a more secure, yet scalable model, where someone else (Atmosera) manages everything for you, but is single-tenant, meaning the hardware and software are unique to your business. It’s generally a more expensive model.
  • Hybrid cloud – sometimes called the best of both worlds, where your most critical applications and data can reside on a Private cloud, but you can also tap into the Public cloud for more flexible, lower-cost services.

Many Atmosera clients have a combination of public and private cloud implementations. 451 Research’s Wave 6 Cloud Study found that private cloud remains the preferred option for most enterprise workload types, followed closely by hybrid cloud deployments.

Image: 451 Research’s Cloud Management Platforms Report

The Azure Cloud Options Deconstructed

To continue to explore these “rules of three,” there are three types of Azure cloud solutions:

  • Public Azure – an IaaS and PaaS solution that’s both well-known and market-proven
  • Windows Azure Pack – based on Microsoft’s Cloud Platform (formerly Cloud OS), primed for IaaS
  • Azure Stack – a hardware and software combination that’s still emerging today (and still being fully understood from a pricing model, etc.), but meant to truly unlock IaaS and PaaS capabilities for enterprise

Public Azure – Public Cloud

Microsoft launched their Azure cloud service in 2010. It was immediately heralded as a leader in both Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS) capabilities.

Windows Azure Pack – Self-Service Cloud

Windows Azure Pack allows anyone with Microsoft products to bring Azure services into their data centers. Azure Pack provides a multi-tenant, self-service cloud that works on top of existing Microsoft software and hardware investments, and is immediately familiar to anyone steeped in a Microsoft IT environment. Azure Pack leverages System Center with Hyper-V, which is a mature enterprise virtualization automation product with a large supporting user base across all industries.

Azure Stack – Software + Hardware to Run Azure in the Datacenter

In early 2016, Microsoft launched Azure Stack, which essentially lets enterprises run full-blown Azure in their data centers, enabling hybrid cloud users to use Azure services flexibly and freely both in the data center and in the cloud.

Azure Stack is an exact software copy of public Azure, but designed to run in a local data center. Azure Stack requires hardware from HP, Dell or Lenovo (as of mid-2017) and will eventually run on other authenticated converged platforms.

In an interview with CIO at the time of the Azure Stack announcement, Microsoft’s Mike Neil said, “Cloud is not a location, it's a mind-set; we want to make location an option for customers.” Azure Stack is primed for hybrid cloud implementations.

In the study, 451 Research analysts reported:

“What this indicates is that there will be a very real need for management tools that can operate across the spectrum of cloud delivery models to support this enterprise demand.”

Microsoft’s Cloud OS Network (COSN)

Microsoft developed a certification program with incredibly rigorous criteria for excellence and expertise surrounding Microsoft Cloud Platform and Azure deployments. The Cloud OS Network is a worldwide group of select service providers that offers technically validated, hybrid cloud and Azure-enabled solutions. Atmosera is one of the earlier members of COSN, and continuously maintains certifications for Microsoft Cloud Platform and Azure.

Cloud, Hybrid Dominance and PaaS

In another numerically symmetrical projection, Gartner noted (link:

  • Through 2020, data center and relevant "as a service" (aaS) pricing will continue to decline by at least 10 percent per year
  • By 2019, 90% of native cloud IaaS providers will be forced out of the current market by the Amazon Web Services (AWS) / Microsoft duopoly
  • By 2020 - 90% of organizations will adopt hybrid infrastructure management capabilities.

While early cloud adopters have leveraged cloud-based IaaS, the power of accelerating development and agility is in PaaS – the role-based access controls, network management services and other management services like managing VMs and storage.

Azure Stack comes ready for velocity and scale with PaaS. At the time of launch, Network World’s Rand Morimoto took a deep dive into the Azure Stack, and wrote Truly Understanding Microsoft’s Azure Stack, where he noted,

“Moving from IaaS to PaaS will likely require some changes of (inefficient) code running on the overhead laden redundant systems, to a more broadly scalable PaaS model, but once you make the changes, you can now scale and distribute your application (up and down) based on your needs.”

Microsoft commissioned Forrester Research to study the potential return on investment (ROI) that enterprises might realize by shifting their application development and deployment to Azure PaaS. In their study, they wrote,

“PaaS allows customers to focus on application innovation without the complexity of building and maintaining the underlying infrastructure, and removes the need to perform many IT tasks like patching, networking, and server management.”

Want to know more about Hybrid cloud services? Connect with us today. And we invite you to explore how Atmosera case studies on how to use Azure’s Public and Hybrid cloud services today in our Case Study section.

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