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Why Microsoft’s Azure Arc Is A ‘Value Proposition’

‘When you think about what we’re doing versus what our competition or what other vendors are doing, we provide the most flexible solution -- bar none,’ said Arpan Shah, the general manager leading Microsoft’s product marketing for Azure infrastructure.

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Just more than a year ago, Microsoft Azure expanded its hybrid offerings with the public preview of Azure Arc, a set of technologies that brings Azure’s cloud management capabilities and services to virtually any environment.

Today, the cloud provider has more than 1,000 customers using Azure Arc, which extends an organization’s control plane to manage servers and Kubernetes clusters across on premises, multi-cloud and multi-edge, with governance from Azure.

“What we want to do is really enable customers to use Azure wherever they want it, even on their own infrastructure,” said Arpan Shah, the general manager who leads Microsoft’s product marketing for Azure infrastructure. “We’re seeing some really good adoption, and they’re using it for different use cases. And now that it’s generally available, we expect a lot more momentum, a lot of customers to begin using it in their production environments.”

Azure Arc-enabled servers became generally available in September,

allowing organizations to manage their Windows and Linux machines hosted outside of Azure -- on a company’s private network or on rival clouds -- consistent with how they manage native Azure virtual machines.

Azure Arc-enabled data services, which currently allows the Azure SQL Managed Instance and Azure PostgreSQL Hyperscale database offerings to run in any environment using Kubernetes, has been in public preview since September. And Azure Arc-enabled Kubernetes, which can be used to attach and configure Kubernetes clusters inside or outside of Azure, has been in public preview since May.

“Azure Arc really enables two things,” Shah said. “Number one, it enables management and governance of resources that can live virtually anywhere. And these can be servers -- that’s either virtual machines or bare metal servers -- they can be Kubernetes clusters or even SQL databases. What it provides the customer is a single pane of glass, where they can see those resources alongside everything else in Azure, and they can use the same tools, the same scripting. They can govern, monitor and back all these services up no matter where they live.”

Azure Arc also enables customers to deploy services -- data services, as of now -- on any Kubernetes environment.

“If a customer has Kubernetes running on premises or at the edge, they can then deploy Azure data services and take advantage of the latest technology and pay-as-you-go model,” Shah said. “We’re seeing tons of customers use it. We’ve seen a lot of traction on the technology.”

Future Azure Arc innovations will include additional management capabilities and the enablement of more services.

“Today with Azure Arc, you can govern your environments with Azure Policy, you can secure them with Azure Security Center, you can monitor them with Azure Monitor,” Shah said. “We’ll keep expanding based on customer feedback.”

The general availability of Azure Arc-enabled servers comes as Amazon Web Services pushes its hybrid AWS Outposts offering, and Google Cloud pushes its hybrid and multi-cloud Anthos platform.

“When you think about what we’re doing versus what our competition or what other vendors are doing, we provide the most flexible solution -- bar none,” Shah said. “We’ve always built Azure hybrid by design and so, over the years, we’ve seen that customers want flexibility.”

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