By Caroline Blivet

How Microsoft is Shaping the Future of Multi-Cloud Environments

November 25, 2019

The cloud computing landscape is evolving rapidly and one of the key technology trends that will shape 2020 will be multi-cloud environments.


Even though many enterprises are already running on multi-cloud environments, they struggle to manage them especially when it comes to moving application workloads, servers and containers from one environment to another. 


This is where Azure Arc steps in.


One of the major announcements made at Ignite 19 this month, was Azure Arc, a new set of technologies that aim to extend the control plane of Azure to on-premises, multi-cloud environments, and provide "a seamless development, deployment and ongoing management experience."


Since the very beginning, Azure has been designed to enable seamless hybrid cloud deployments, giving customers the flexibility of running Azure services through Azure Stack HCI & Stack Edge. But Microsoft is extending a step further with Azure Arc. Even though Microsoft offered hybrid capabilities with platforms such as Azure Monitor (monitoring cloud and on-premises infrastructure), Azure Backup (on-prem and cloud backup) etc., there was no real single management and orchestration plane across all these toolsets. 


With Azure Arc, customers now have access to a central, unified, and self-service platform to manage their Windows and Linux Servers on any infrastructure across on-premises, multi-cloud and edge. In other words, Azure ties together any compute resources whether they are running inside or outside of Microsoft Azure.


The same applies to containers. Once registered, any external Kubernetes cluster can be managed the same way i.e. as if they were running natively running Azure's Kubernetes service.


Additionally, Azure Arc extends adoption of cloud practices such as DevOps and Azure security across on-premises, multi cloud, and edge.


What does it mean concretely? 


According to Julia White, corporate vice president of Microsoft Azure, this new service will accelerate deployment while giving customers a holistic view of their Azure data services across all their cloud environments.


In a recent post she blogged: "with Azure Arc, customers can now realize the benefits of cloud innovation, including always up-to-date data capabilities, deployment in seconds (rather than hours), and dynamic scalability on any infrastructure. Customers now have the flexibility to deploy Azure SQL Database and Azure Database for PostgreSQL Hyperscale where they need it, on any Kubernetes cluster."


As described by Microsoft, Azure Arc consists of a set of different technologies and components: 


Organize and govern across environments - Get databases, Kubernetes clusters, and servers sprawling across on-premises, edge and multi-cloud environments under control by centrally organizing and governing from a single place.


Manage Kubernetes Apps at scale - Deploy and manage Kubernetes applications across environments using DevOps techniques. Ensure that applications are deployed and configured from source control consistently.


Run data services anywhere - Get automated patching, upgrades, security and scale on-demand across on-premises, edge and multi-cloud environments for your data estate.


To better understand the general concept of Azure Arc, the diagram below illustrates how it fits with a multi-cloud strategy.