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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

What’s the timing on Azure Stack? Is it delayed from when you initially were hoping to get it to market?

We’ve pushed what we call Technical Preview 2, which we announced at our Ignite Conference a few months ago. That’s out there right now. The hardware along with that is also out there being tested and we have a lot of early adopters that are giving us the beta feedback on top of that. Basically our goal is to get those things in place, take that feedback and continue on the Technical Preview track to make sure we’re meeting all those requirements. We’re targeting this upcoming calendar year.

It seems that some companies are coming to a realization that the public cloud is not a good fit for the workloads they have migrated there. I wrote a story recently about GitLab, which announced it is exiting the public cloud because they feel like they can run their database application more efficiently on infrastructure that they control. Is this a trend? Have you seen customers go to the public cloud then pull the plug on it for cost or performance reasons in favor of running apps in their own data center?

I would say historically for people looking at that, if they’re getting to a very, very large volume then I’m certainly aware of companies that like to really do the customization. What I would say is we doubled the number of compute configurations or VM types that we’ve had just in 2016 alone and that was in direct response to requests – people say ‘Hey, I’d like to have something with more CPU and less RAM, that would be great for gaming.’ Some workloads just can’t use a generic VM.

The N-series with GPUs (Graphic Processing Units) is the most recent example that we’ve brought out. The FPGA work that we’ve announced is another. You’re starting to see more and more types of workloads that need something specialized and I think the public cloud will definitely handle it. That’s not to say that there won’t always be somebody who’s really just hyper-optimizing.

I think the thing you typically look at is: what percentage of my overall portfolio is running infrastructure and is that really the thing that I actually want to be doing? Am I getting the kind of scale wins that come out of a supply chain where I’m spending billions of dollars and buying millions of things at a time? Are you really going to be able to compete in that kind of environment? Are there cases of that? Sure, I’ve seen it, but I do think that as the public cloud evolves it will handle those scenarios. I think the number of companies that are in a position to run their own is pretty small.


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