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Build 2021: Microsoft targets multicloud developers

Company has previewed new capabilities to Azure application services, giving developers greater freedom of where to deploy workloads

Microsoft is giving developers the ability to run and monitor containerised applications on any cloud or on-premise, including AWS and Google Cloud.

In a blog describing the company’s plans for cloud-native computing, Gabe Monroy, vice-president, Azure developer experience, wrote: “One of the challenges we continue to hear from customers is that despite the enhanced control and ecosystem benefits of Kubernetes, Kubernetes is difficult for developers to use directly. Developers must learn many advanced concepts and APIs, which can hurt their productivity.”

To support hybrid IT, Microsoft unveiled a preview of Azure application services using Azure Arc to enable workloads on Kubernetes to run across Azure, on-premise, AWS and Google Cloud.

According to Microsoft, Azure application services connected through Azure Arc work with any CNCF-conformant Kubernetes cluster and provide a single pane of glass with central visibility through Azure Portal, and governance and compliance through Azure Policy.

“Any Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF)-conformant Kubernetes cluster connected through Azure Arc is now a supported deployment target for Azure application services,” said Monroy in the blog.

Developers who want to target more environments on-premise, on the edge, or use multiple public clouds, usually need to build custom application hosting, data hosting, monitoring, security and DevOps automation, he said. “Having to generate custom solutions that only exist due to hosting environment changes is unproductive and unreliable,” he added.

Siemens Healthineers is one of the organisations that has been using Azure Arc in preview to get round the limitations of moving data to the public cloud. The company provides software-based monitoring called teamplay Receiver for MRI and CT scanners.

Given data protection regulations restricting the movement of patient data, the company could not send data to the cloud, which limited monitoring. Siemens Healthineers has now used Azure Arc to  deploy and manage applications on Kubernetes clusters across tens of thousands of locations.

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Thomas Gossler, chief architect for teamplay at Siemens Healthineers, said: “Azure Arc is the key technology we use to deliver software as a service to the edge within our customers’ local on-premise networks.”

According to research from CCS Insight, over 40% of large firms will continue to run more than 40% of their IT workloads on-premise.

Nick McQuire, chief of enterprise research at CCS Insight, said: “The core vehicles of Microsoft’s cloud strategy at the moment are its hybrid cloud capabilities, which continue to be in the spotlight for developers as well.”

McQuire believes Azure Arc is fundamental for Microsoft’s future in addressing this complexity and its long-term fortunes in cloud computing as well.

“The growing flexibility that Microsoft is now providing in this area will be welcome news for customers as the demand for greater integrations between its investments in Kubernetes, along with its Azure services, Azure Stack infrastructure and the Azure Arc control pane continue to rise,” he added.

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