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Why Azure’s cloud chief believes Microsoft is in prime position

Brandon Butler | Dec. 13, 2016
Jason Zander is corporate VP at Microsoft overseeing Azure sales and engineering

I know hybrid cloud has been a big area of focus for Microsoft. Why has that been such an important part of the strategy?

Part of this is just our experience we’ve built over the last couple of decades of being an enterprise company. We expect that we will have a hybrid landscape for the foreseeable future. Clearly a lot is going to move into public cloud, we’re definitely seeing that. At the same time there are scenarios that people just need to be able to meet. Imagine your factory floor: If someone cuts the fiber cable between you and your cloud you’re going to be losing $15,000 a second if your production line is down. You can’t have that.

Hybrid, to us, is a first-class part of the solution that you’re going to need to have, so we’ve invested in that from day one. The best example of this is our work in Azure Stack, the ability to have a consistent cloud environment for on-premises as well as the public cloud and the ability to figure out how do I leverage both and create the best possible combination of the two. We’ve also put product truth into things like SQL Server and other environments. It’s not so much that we’re just tacking things together as much as we’ve actually made very deep R&D investments to make sure that that the hybrid world is something you can actually materialize and get a lot of value out of on day one.

Let’s talk about Azure Stack, Microsoft’s private cloud appliance. It was recently announced that the product is going to be delayed. So when will it be available? Also, what will Azure Stack look like on a customer premise? Is it going to require specialized hardware that customers need to buy?

We’ve got great relationships with three close partners, Dell, HPE and Lenovo in the preview phase right now. Basically they’re all working on a converged appliance, which will include the hardware plus our software that will go together. What we’ve tried to do is figure out what are the things that make private cloud implementations fail. If people have tried using other software solutions or building their own, why have they failed?

We found there were two key elements to it: One was the software. We try to make sure you have software that can really deliver a cloud pattern, not just VM automation, but an actual cloud pattern with containers and PaaS and all the rest of the things you expect in a cloud. The other piece is hardware and getting that right, making sure it can handle the new cloud patterns. We put those two things together and that is what Azure Stack represents. You’ve also seen from us Project Olympus and some of the work we’ve done with the Open Compute Project. Those are also part of that same strategy to make sure that that kind of converged hardware/software solution that we’re making is something that we can both share with the industry and also drive to scale.


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