Azure everywhere! No stopping digital transformation now…

Following the Microsoft Ignite conference last month, we had an internal UKCloud roundtable to discuss the key messages. This blog provides a summary of that discussion which focused on the new Intelligent Edge portfolio of products.

At last month’s Microsoft Ignite conference, CEO Satya Nadella began with a message of empowerment and providing organisations with tools and capabilities. The mission “empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more” was echoed throughout the conference with significant announcements in Azure, Analytics, AI and Software. Following the conference, we had an internal UKCloud roundtable to discuss the key messages, which is available to watch now. The focus of conversation was around the new Intelligent Edge portfolio of products including Azure Stack Hub and Azure Stack Edge.

Cloud adoption continues to rise and increasingly organisations are looking at mixed models known as multi-cloud or hybrid cloud deployments to meet their goals for online services. According to Gartner “Hybrid cloud offers the best of both worlds”, this resonated at the conference with Azure Stack Hub featuring first and foremost this year. As a UK-based cloud services provider UKCloud has utilised the Azure Stack capability for a while now and have seen customers leverage the power of Azure public while also having access to Azure within government-grade datacenter facilities which form part of the Crown Campus for data sovereignty and government connectivity.

The introduction of Azure Arc should help simplify the current complexity faced by organisations as they adopt and utilise these hybrid environments. With its single pane of glass to support the management of workloads helping to overcome challenges such as the control of disparate portals, security and patching. This also helps with the multi-cloud nature of deployments increasingly seen across organisations, a survey by RightScale indicated that 81% of enterprises have a multi-cloud strategy. For our customers it means they can now manage their vCloud Director, OpenStack, Azure Stack Hub and public cloud workloads efficiently. Below is an Azure Arc demo by our Technical Authority Chris Black:

here

Core to the Azure demonstration was the relevance and importance of edge processing. As organisations look to enable real-time applications and services, the need for edge processing is needed now more than ever, so it’s good to see products like Azure Stack Edge coming through. These systems include enhanced GPU capabilities for Machine Learning which we can already see being adopted in industries such as healthcare and more widely across public and private sector. While edge processing of data is very much dependent upon strong network connectivity and low latency, we hope the introduction of 5G and 0G networks will help to overcome this limitation.

There were some aspects missing from the conference in our opinion, namely clarifications on licensing. The licensing on Azure Stack Hub is still somewhat old fashioned and hasn’t kept pace with the technological advancements. It would be great to see the licensing models used by Microsoft become more flexible in order to allow organisations to take advantage of the innovations talked about at the conference. In Microsoft’s defence, this has been acknowledged and progress has been made, but at a much slower pace than we had hoped to see.

To sum up and bring it back to UKCloud, we were pleased to hear the announcements and investments made to the Azure Stack Hub portfolio. As we continue to support the enablement of digital transformation journeys in UK Public Sector, features like Azure Arc will certainly help customers’ with the management of not just their workloads running in Azure Stack Hub, but also other clouds such as Azure public, Google Cloud or even those running on premises. There were many other Azure Stack features talked about at the conference and we will cover these off in future blogs, but of those features, we are interested to know which ones resonate with our customers and partners.Do let us know your feedback and ideas at feedback@ukcloud.com.  Look out for the more detailed roadmap videos, early in the New Year.