Microsoft Commits To Long-Term Development Plan With HashiCorp

Microsoft extended its partnership with HashiCorp Thursday to focus on comprehensively integrating the DevOps specialist's popular Terraform infrastructure provisioning tool across Azure cloud services.

The cloud giant pledged to ramp up investment in joint engineering efforts to ensure HashiCorp's widely adopted open-source solution supports much of Azure's large and rapidly expanding feature set, HashiCorp CEO Dave McJannet told CRN.

"What we're really doing here is we're committing to a multi-year partnership with them to fully cover all the services available in Azure," McJannet said. "We and the community are continually adding support for new features in Azure, but they're continually adding new services."

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Terraform and several other open source tools (Vagrant, Vault, Consul) from the San Francisco-based startup have become ubiquitous in enterprise IT environments for automating infrastructure and enabling adoption of DevOps software delivery methods. Terraform features connectors to infrastructure, called 'providers,' built by its open-source community, which often includes the cloud providers themselves.

With the latest agreement, engineering teams from both Microsoft and HashiCorp will collaborate "to make sure all the services people might want to use on Azure are available on Terraform," McJannet said, especially application container services.

For HashiCorp users making multi-year infrastructure commitments and increasingly adopting multi-cloud environments, the long-term partnership eases the decision to migrate workloads to Azure, he said.

Microsoft has been working less formally with HashiCorp since early 2016—their joint efforts in the past were primarily in response to customers requesting support for specific Azure services. The collaboration started with Terraform's integration with Azure Resource Manager, the native infrastructure provisioning tool of Microsoft's cloud.

"What's changed is we've established a framework between us where we're both agreeing to invest in this and work toward a concrete roadmap of deliverables," McJannet said.

A "clear and methodical roadmap" was important, he told CRN, for enterprises adopting hybrid and multi-cloud environments.

Microsoft is seeing interest ramp for DevOps tools that automate the application lifecycle, Corey Sanders, director of compute at Azure, wrote on the Microsoft Azure blog.

Sanders described HashiCorp as "a well-known voice in the DevOps and cloud infrastructure management space."

Since the companies started working together in 2016, "our customers have found significant value in the HashiCorp support on Azure," Sanders said.

Jason Rook, vice president of market development at 10th Magnitude, a large Microsoft Azure and HashiCorp partner, told CRN the invigorated relationship between vendors will further encourage enterprises to ditch on-premise infrastructure for Azure.

"As we watched what happened with other technology providers Microsoft made this joint commitment with, after that commitment was made, we saw the customer base change from early adopters into mainstream," Rook said.

10th Magnitude, based in Chicago, sees Terraform being deployed across the Fortune 500, Rook said.

"Really large customers are all using Terraform somewhere," he said. Microsoft's enterprise customers see the tool as a good fit because of its lack of complexity and the large open source community supporting it.

Aater Suleman, CEO of Flux7, a HashiCorp partner in Austin, Tex., that primarily works with Amazon Web Services, sees a similar phenomenon on his side of the cloud provider spectrum.

AWS, like Microsoft, offers a native infrastructure provisioning tool, called AWS CloudFormation. But demand seems higher for Terraform "because customers tell us they want to go cross-cloud," Suleman said.

HashiCorp's value proposition is that it's an independent solution that can be used in any environment, enabling platform independence and democratizing advanced IT operations, he told CRN.

"As a company, their entire scheme from day one has been building products that are portable," Suleman said.

Sanju Burkule, senior director of business development at REAN Cloud, one of the earliest HashiCorp partners, told CRN that Terraform has become the ’clear tool of choice’ for hybrid and multi-cloud solutions.

’Most large enterprises want to de-risk their dependency on a single cloud provider,’ Burkule told CRN. ’Even if they choose to go with one cloud provider for now, they want to do it in such a way that they will have the ability to quickly shift their workloads to another cloud if and when required. Codifying infrastructure in cloud agnostic tools like Terraform provides them a good amount of flexibility and skill reuse.’