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Why Azure Arc is a game changer for Microsoft




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In Ignite 2019, Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, announced a number of new hybrid cloud products and services. The most important announcement from Satya's main tone is Azure Arc hybrid and multi-cloud platform from Microsoft. & Nbsp;

Although a major renewal of the hybrid strategy was expected by analysts and business partners to Microsoft, Azure Arc has created many surprises. Compared to its counterparts in the market, Azure Arc stands out for its unique approach and design. & nbsp;

Before I explain why Azure Arc is a game changer, let me dissect the architecture and designed for you.

Azure Architecture in Plain English

Since its debut ten years ago, Microsoft has continuously improved Azure's control plan, which is responsible for managing l iv cycle of resources such as virtual machines, database instances, Hadoop clusters and Kubernetes clusters.

In the technical nomenclature, the control plane is called the Azure Fabric Controller. Each time a resource such as a VM is offered, scaled, stopped or terminated, the operation goes through the Fabric Controller. & Nbsp;

Each resource in Azure still reports its state to the Fabric Controller. For example, in the case of & nbsp; Azure VMs, the communication is initiated and managed by an agent (VM Agent) running within the virtual machine. & Nbsp;

Between the fabric controller and resources, there is another layer called Azure Resource Manager (ARM) that automates the resource's life cycle. Microsoft has built resource providers for each of Azure's services. For example, VMs, SQL Database, Azure Kubernetes Service function as resource providers. & Nbsp; Customers can declare the configuration of these resources through an ARM template ̵

1; a simple text file that defines the desired state of a resource.

Azure Arc as an extension of Azure Control Plane

With Azure Arc, Microsoft has expanded ARM support for resources running outside Azure. This means that a physical server running in a data center looks like a calculated resource in the eyes of the Fabric Controller. Even VMs running on top of VMware vSphere, Amazon EC2 and Google Compute Engine can be registered with Azure Resource Manager. All Windows or Linux servers – including those running behind a firewall and proxy – can be registered with ARM. & Nbsp; The external VMs have a similar software to the agent running in Azure VMs.

Apart from World Cups, Azure ARC can also detect Kubernetes clusters. Once on board, any external Kubernetes cluster can be managed as Azure's own Kubernetes service, AKS. This means that a Pivotal Kubernetes Service cluster running on vSphere within the data center and mainstream managed Kubernetes services such as Amazon EKS, Google Kubernetes Engine, and IBM Kubernetes Service can be registered with Azure Arc. & Nbsp;

What is more interesting is the fact that Azure Arc can run managed database services in hybrid and multi-cloud environments. At the time of announcement, two databases, Azure SQL Database and PostgreSQL Hyperscale, can be run outside Azure. Some of the core benefits of managed databases such as automated updates, patching, security audits, unattended updates are transferred to Azure data services. & Nbsp;

Finally, customers can deploy modern, cloud-native applications packaged as microservices to either VM or Kubernetes clusters that are part of Azure Arc. Application services benefit from recent investments in open source projects such as Rudr and Dapr . & Nbsp;

In summary, Microsoft allows Azure to manage the services distributed remotely below:

  1. Windows and Linux servers running only metal, VMs and public cloud IaaS
  2. Kubernetes clusters & nbsp;
  3. Data services based on SQL Azure and PostgreSQL Hyperscale
  4. Programs packaged and distributed as microservices running on Kubernetes

Azure Arc – Why Care?

What does this mean for customers? How can businesses benefit from Azure Arc? & Nbsp;

Let me try to answer these questions.

Azure Arc allows customers to manage resources distributed in Azure and outside Azure through the same control plan. They can take advantage of the automation features available through ARM templates and the Azure API.

For example, an ARM template can roll out a set of public facing virtual machines in Azure while placing the VMs in the data center running old databases. It makes it possible to use RBAC, tagging and identity policy on resources. & Nbsp;

Enterprises can use Azure Security Center to ensure compliance with all resources registered with Azure Arc, regardless of where they are deployed. They can quickly patch the operating systems running in VMs as soon as a vulnerability is found. Customers can encrypt file systems in any VM at the touch of a button. Guidelines can be defined once and automatically applied to all Azure resources, data centers and even VMs running on other cloud platforms. & Nbsp;

All resources registered with Azure Arc send the logs to the central cloud-based Azure Monitor . This is a very powerful approach to gain insight from highly distributed and diverse infrastructure environments. & Nbsp;

Finally, the Azure Automation service can be used to perform day-to-day advanced maintenance operations over the public cloud, rent cloud and multi-cloud environments.

Azure Arc customers can use Azure Portal, Azure CLI, SDK, and third-party tools such as Terraform to automate resource management similar to the way public cloud resources are managed.

Azure Arc as Game Changer

With Azure Arc, Microsoft allows businesses with older infrastructure to join the hybrid cloud bandwagon. A physical x86 server running a decade-old version of Oracle on Linux can easily register itself with Azure Arc to appear in Azure Portal in the same resource group and region running a modern, resilient web application that speaks to the old database. & nbsp;

Microsoft does not alienate customers who run older hardware and VMs from the hybrid cloud. World Cups are treated as first class citizens in the world by Azure Arc. & Nbsp;

With AKS and Kubernetes, Azure Arc makes it easy to run greenfield applications packed and distributed as containers. More recently, Microsoft and Alibaba have jointly published a specification called Open Application Model that simplifies modeling of multi-container microservices. Rudr an implementation of OAM will be the abstract layer for targeting Kubernetes infrastructure. & Nbsp; & nbsp; & nbsp; & nbsp;

So, with support for VMs and Kubernetes, Microsoft is going to simplify application modernization and digital transformation with Azure Arc without much consideration.

Microsoft is also one of the first to bring managed data services to the hybrid cloud. Since these database services are packed as containers and run on top of Kubernetes, managing them from the centralized Azure control plan becomes effective. & Nbsp;

Azure Arc is poised to become the overall management team for the recently announced hybrid cloud offering including Azure Stack Hub, Azure Stack HCI and Azure Stack Edge. Depending on the footprint and ability, they may run one or more supported Azure services through Azure Arc. & Nbsp;

With Azure Arc and Azure Stack portfolio, Microsoft got the combination of hardware and software strategy right.

Azure Arc vs AWS Outposts

AWS Outposts are custom-built, Amazon-designed, hyper-converged infrastructure devices that include computing, memory, storage and networking. Since AWS Outposts are based on AWS Nitro System they come in custom configurations.

Amazon customers subscribe to the Outposts service just as they use EC2 instances. They do not own the infrastructure.

AWS Outpost customers choose between two different stacks – & nbsp; Only AWS flavor with the known AWS APIs and control plan or a VMware variant running vSphere, vSAN and NSX as part of the VMware SDDC stack. & Nbsp;

Some AWS Managed Services Application Load Balancer (ALB), Amazon ECS and Amazon EKS for Containers, Amazon EMR for Big Data and Amazon RDS for Databases Running on AWS Outposts. & Nbsp;

Compared to AWS Outposts, Microsoft Azure Arc does not require proprietary hardware. Any Linux or Windows VM can be registered and managed through Azure. & Nbsp; AWS Outposts can be compared to Azure Stack Hub controlled through Azure Arc. & Nbsp;

Although Outposts runs container infrastructure through ECS and EKS, unlike Azure Arc, AWS cannot manage external clusters to roll out policies and configuration. & Nbsp;

AWS Outposts is an extension of EC2 that can run any of AWS managed services. Azure Arc is a much wider hybrid cloud platform with support for a variety of data environments running in the corporate data center. If the environment is capable of running a managed Kubernetes cluster, Azure Arc can deploy data services.

Azure Arc vs. Google Anthos

Anthos from Google is a hybrid cloud platform built using modern infrastructure building blocks such as Kubernetes, Istio and Knative. It is a logical extension of the Google Kubernetes Engine running in the customer environment. & Nbsp;

Through the acquisition of Velostrata, Google has built tools that convert traditional virtual machines into containers running on Kubernetes. Although Anthos can technically run VMs and containers side by side, Google encourages customers to modernize the apps through containerization. & Nbsp;

Google is slowly but regularly porting some of the managed services such as Dataproc, Cloud Run and Kubeflow to Anthos. Other services from the data and the AI ​​portfolio are expected to be ported to Anthos in the future. & Nbsp;

Anthos can also manage 3rd party Kubernetes clusters through a single control plan. It can also use and manage configuration policies and security settings through a central location. & Nbsp;

There are quite a few similarities between Google Anthos and Azure Arc. & Nbsp; Both can detect external clusters and manage them through the same control plan. Both platforms can deploy applications across multiple clusters. Like Anthos, Azure Arc benefits from the Kubernetes Foundation for running managed data services. & Nbsp;

But the main difference with Azure Arc is first-class support for World Cups. Customers can easily mix and match physical servers, VMs and Kubernetes clusters within the hybrid environment. & Nbsp;

Google has not yet brought managed database services such as Cloud SQL and Bigtable to Anthos. Azure Arc runs SQL and PostgreSQL Hyperscale from day one. & Nbsp;

Anthos includes Cloud Run and Knative to simplify the developer experience of managing Kubernetes. Azure Arc encourages developers to embrace OAM design and deploy applications based on Rudr and Dapr. & Nbsp;

Summary

The definition of a hybrid cloud is expanded to include multi-cloud capabilities. AWS with Outposts, Google with Anthos, IBM and Red Hat with OpenShift and CloudPaks, VMware with Project Pacific and Tanzu are struggling to win mindshare and market share. & Nbsp;

Building on the solid foundation of ARM, Microsoft's hybrid strategy based on Azure Arc and Azure Stack looks compelling and compelling. Azure Arc's important differentiation lies in the balance between traditional, VM-based workloads and modern containerized workloads operating in the same context of the hybrid and multi-cloud environments. & Nbsp;

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In Ignite 2019, Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, announced a number of new hybrid cloud products and services. The most important announcement from Satya's main note is Azure Arc, Microsoft's hybrid and multi-platform platform.

Although Microsoft analysts and business partners expected a major renewal of the hybrid strategy, Azure Arc has created many surprises. Azure Arc stands out for its unique approach and design.

Before I explain why Azure Arc is a game changer, let me dissect the architecture and design for you.

Azure Architecture in Plain English

Since its debut Ten Decades ago, Microsoft has continuously improved Azure's control plan, which is responsible for managing the lifecycle of resources such as virtual machines, database releases master, Hadoop clusters and Kubernetes clusters.

In the technical nomenclature, the control plane is called the Azure Fabric Controller. Each time a resource such as a VM is offered, scaled, stopped or terminated, the operation goes through the Fabric Controller.

Each Azure resource still reports its state to the Fabric Controller. For example, in the case of Azure VMs, communications are initiated and managed by an agent (VM Agent) running within the virtual machine.

Between the fabric controller and resources, there is another layer called Azure Resource Manager (ARM) that automates the resource's life cycle. Microsoft has built resource providers for each of Azure's services. For example, VMs, SQL Database, Azure Kubernetes Service function as resource providers. Customers can declare the configuration of these resources through an ARM template – a simple text file that defines the desired state of a resource.

Azure Arc as an extension of Azure Control Plane

With Azure Arc, Microsoft has expanded ARM support for resources running outside Azure. This means that a physical server running in a data center looks like a calculated resource in the eyes of the Fabric Controller. Even VMs running on top of VMware vSphere, Amazon EC2 and Google Compute Engine can be registered with Azure Resource Manager. All Windows or Linux servers – including those running behind a firewall and proxy – can be registered with ARM. The external VMs have a similar software to the agent running inside Azure VMs.

Apart from VMs, Azure ARC can also detect Kubernetes clusters. Once on board, any external Kubernetes cluster can be managed as Azure's own Kubernetes service, AKS. This means that a Pivotal Kubernetes Service cluster running on vSphere within the data center and mainstream managed Kubernetes services such as Amazon EKS, Google Kubernetes Engine and IBM Kubernetes Service can be registered with Azure Arc.

What is more interesting is the fact that Azure Arc can run managed database services in hybrid and multi-cloud environments. At the time of announcement, two databases, Azure SQL Database and PostgreSQL Hyperscale, can be run outside Azure. Some of the core benefits of managed databases such as automated updates, updates, security audits, unattended updates are passed on to Azure data services.

Finally, customers can deploy modern, cloud-native applications packaged as microservices to either VMs or Kubernetes clusters that are part of Azure Arc. Application services benefit from recent investments in open source projects such as Rudr and Dapr.

In summary, Microsoft enables Azure to manage the services distributed remotely below:

  1. Windows and Linux servers running in metal only, VMs and public cloud IaaS
  2. Kubernetes clusters
  3. SQL Azure and PostgreSQL Hyperscale data services
  4. Applications packaged and distributed as microservices running on Kubernetes

Azure Arc – Why Care?

What does this mean for customers? How can businesses benefit from Azure Arc?

Let me try to answer these questions.

Azure Arc allows customers to manage resources distributed in Azure and outside Azure through the same control plan. They can take advantage of the automation features available through ARM templates and the Azure API.

For example, an ARM template can roll out a set of public facing virtual machines in Azure while placing the VMs in the data center running old databases. It makes it possible to use RBAC, tagging and identity policy on resources.

Companies can use the Azure Security Center to ensure compliance with all resources registered with Azure Arc, regardless of where they are deployed. They can quickly patch the operating systems running in VMs as soon as a vulnerability is found. Customers can encrypt file systems in any VM at the touch of a button. Guidelines can be defined once and automatically applied to all Azure resources, data centers and even VMs running on other cloud platforms.

All resources registered with Azure Arc send the logs to the central, cloud-based Azure Monitor. This is a very powerful approach to gain insight from highly distributed and diverse infrastructure environments.

Finally, the Azure Automation service can be used to perform day-to-day advanced maintenance operations over public clouds, rented clouds and multi-cloud environments.

Azure Arc customers can use Azure Portal, Azure CLI, SDK, and third-party tools such as Terraform to automate resource management similar to the way public cloud resources are managed.

Azure Arc as Game Changer

With Azure Arc, Microsoft allows businesses with older infrastructure to join the hybrid cloud bandwagon. A physical x86 server running a decade-old version of Oracle on Linux can easily register itself with Azure Arc to appear in Azure Portal in the same resource group and region running a modern, resilient web application that speaks to the old database.

Microsoft does not alienate customers who run older hardware and VMs from the hybrid cloud. World Cups are treated as first class citizens in the world by Azure Arc.

With AKS and Kubernetes, Azure Arc makes it easy to run greenfield applications packed and distributed as containers. More recently, Microsoft and Alibaba have jointly released a specification called the Open Application Model that simplifies microservices modeling composed of multiple containers. Rudr, an implementation of OAM will become the abstract team to target Kubernetes infrastructure.

So with support for VMs and Kubernetes, Microsoft is going to simplify application modernization and digital transformation with Azure Arc without much consideration.

Microsoft is also one of the first to bring managed data services to the hybrid cloud. Since these database services are packaged as containers and run on top of Kubernetes, it becomes manageable from the centralized Azure control plan.

Azure Arc is poised to become the overall management team for the recently announced hybrid cloud offerings including Azure Stack Hub, Azure Stack HCI and Azure Stack Edge. Depending on the footprint and ability, they may run one or more supported Azure services through Azure Arc.

With the Azure Arc and Azure Stack portfolios, Microsoft got the combination of hardware and software strategy right.

Azure Arc vs AWS Outposts

AWS Outposts are custom-built, Amazon-designed, hyper-converged infrastructure devices that include computing, memory, storage and networking. Since AWS Outposts are based on AWS Nitro System, they come in custom configurations.

Amazon customers subscribe to the Outposts service just as they use EC2 instances. They do not own the infrastructure.

AWS Outpost customers choose between two different stacks – only AWS flavors with the known AWS APIs and control plan, or a VMware variant running vSphere, vSAN and NSX as part of VMware SDDC stable.

Some AWS Managed Services Application Load Balancer (ALB), Amazon ECS and Amazon EKS for containers, Amazon EMR for big data and Amazon RDS for databases run on AWS Outposts.

Compared to AWS Outposts, Microsoft Azure Arc does not require proprietary hardware. Any Linux or Windows VM can be registered and managed through Azure. AWS Outposts are comparable to Azure Stack Hub managed through Azure Arc.

Although Outposts runs container infrastructure through ECS and EKS, unlike Azure Arc, AWS cannot manage external clusters to implement policies and configurations.

AWS Outposts is an extension of EC2 that can run any of AWS managed services. Azure Arc is a much wider hybrid cloud platform with support for a variety of data environments running in the corporate data center. If the environment is capable of running a managed Kubernetes cluster, Azure Arc can deploy data services.

Azure Arc vs Google Anthos

Anthos from Google is a hybrid cloud platform built using modern infrastructure building blocks such as Kubernetes, Istio and Knative. It is a logical extension of the Google Kubernetes Engine running in the customer environment.

Through the acquisition of Velostrata, Google has built tools that convert traditional virtual machines into containers running on Kubernetes. Although Anthos can technically run VMs and containers side by side, Google encourages customers to modernize the apps through containerization.

Google is slowly but regularly porting some of the managed services such as Dataproc, Cloud Run and Kubeflow to Anthos. Other services from the data and the AI ​​portfolio are expected to be ported to Anthos in the future.

Anthos can also manage 3rd party Kubernetes clusters through a single control plan. It can also use and manage configuration policies and security settings through a central location.

There are quite a few similarities between Google Anthos and Azure Arc. Both can detect external clusters and manage them through the same control plane. Both platforms can deploy applications across multiple clusters. Like Anthos, Azure Arc benefits from the Kubernetes Foundation for running managed data services.

But the main difference with Azure Arc is first-class support for World Cups. Customers can easily mix and match physical servers, VMs and Kubernetes clusters in the hybrid environment.

Google has not yet provided managed database services such as Cloud SQL and Bigtable to Anthos. Azure Arc runs SQL and PostgreSQL Hyperscale from day one.

Anthos includes Cloud Run and Knative to simplify the developer experience of managing Kubernetes. Azure Arc encourages developers to embrace OAM design and deploy applications based on Rudr and Dapr.

Summary

The definition of a hybrid cloud is extended to include cloud capabilities. AWS with Outposts, Google with Anthos, IBM and Red Hat with OpenShift and CloudPaks, VMware with Project Pacific and Tanzu are struggling to win mindshare and market share.

Building on the solid foundation of ARM, Microsoft's hybrid strategy based on Azure Arc and Azure Stack looks compelling and compelling. Azure Arc's important differentiation lies in the balance between traditional, VM-based workloads and modern containerized workloads operating in the same context with the hybrid and multi-cloud environments.


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