Hybrid cloud customers are getting new services — and new hardware — from Microsoft Azure

Microsoft Azure CTO Mark Russinovich at the GeekWire Cloud Tech Summit. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota)

It’s become pretty clear this year that cloud vendors have decided that the hybrid cloud is here to stay, and Microsoft will roll out several new products at Ignite 2018 for customers who want to balance its Azure cloud against their own servers.

Full Coverage: News and analysis from Microsoft’s Ignite 2018 event in Orlando

The new services include an expansion to the Azure Data Box set of products that will allow Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella to talk more about “the intelligent edge” during his keynote address Monday in Orlando, as well as an upgraded version of Azure Stack on which customers will be able to run Kubernetes once it becomes available. Microsoft is also planning to talk about the newest version of Windows Server, which was designed with support for some Azure services.

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As cloud computing services have moved beyond their early customers — startups and forward-thinking developers who like to play with the latest and greatest stuff — they’re run into the reality that exists within a lot of their bigger enterprise customers and sales prospects. Those companies that have invested millions of dollars in custom infrastructure know that there are a lot of reasons to move workloads to the cloud, but that is often easier said than done and sometimes impossible due to regulatory or security concerns.

As a result, companies like Amazon Web Services, Google, and Microsoft have been tweaking their product strategies to cater to these types of customers, who have significant IT budgets and still rank as pretty big customer wins even if they only move a certain percentage of their workloads to the cloud. We’ve seen examples of this earlier this year from AWS, which continues to expand its partnership with VMware and is apparently thinking about building custom hardware for hybrid customers, as well as Google, which rolled out several new hybrid features at its Cloud Next conference in July.

An Equinix data center in Paris. (Equinix Photo)

Microsoft will take its turn this week talking about hybrid cloud amid the arrival of dozens of new services for Azure customers. It plans to expand the Azure Data Box product family, which makes it easier for hybrid cloud customers to move large amounts of data back and forth between their own servers and Azure. A 50-pound version announced last year that stores 100 terabytes of data is now generally available, and both smaller and larger versions will be announced as public previews.

Azure Stack, which pulls Azure cloud services down to a customer’s servers, will now support up to 16 nodes in systems built by Microsoft partners like Dell, HPE, and Lenovo. Microsoft also plans to show off a version of Kubernetes that can run on Azure Stack, which sounds similar to the on-premises version of Kubernetes Google announced in July.

And the second-place cloud computing provider will also show off a few new features that could have an impact on other cloud services companies.

Azure Front Door Service, the technology it uses internally as an application delivery service, will be launched as a public preview for Azure customers, which could have an impact on Seattle’s F5 Networks. Microsoft will also make its anti distributed-denial-of-service attack technology generally available for customers, who might already look to Cloudflare to provide such a service.

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