Microsoft today began setting the stage for its upcoming Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC), which starts July 14, in Washington, D.C. As expected, the focus for partners and customers will be on the cloud and the company’s “transformation into a mobile-first, cloud-first company.”
In a series of coordinated blog posts, Microsoft made an impressively large number of announcements including new cloud services, additions to Microsoft Azure, and improvements to Office 365 aimed at small business.
Azure and Cloud
StorSimple, an appliance-based storage technology that Microsoft acquired a few years ago, has always been an intriguing and innovative addition to Microsoft’s affordable and increasingly powerful storage solutions. However, the company has downplayed StorSimple as it moved the technology from its previous platform (Linux) to Microsoft Azure. Now, in a blog post for the WPC, Takeshi Numoto, Corporate VP, Cloud & Enterprise Marketing, has announced that Microsoft Azure StorSimple will be available August 1.
Numoto explains, “The new StorSimple 8000 series hybrid storage arrays are the most powerful StorSimple systems ever and have even tighter integration with Azure, including two new Azure-based capabilities to enable new use cases and centralize data management. These new solutions demonstrate how Microsoft is bringing the best of on-premises storage together with the cloud in order to deliver bottom line savings to customers by cutting storage costs from 40 to 60% and helping IT teams focus more on business strategies than infrastructure management.”
Two options of StorSimple hybrid storage arrays will not be limited to SSDs and HDDs, but will use Azure Storage as a hybrid cloud tier and will include off-site cloud snapshots for data protection. The Microsoft Azure StorSimple Virtual Appliance will run as an Azure virtual machine in the cloud and will work for data from Windows Server and Hyper-V, as well as on-premises Linux and VMware servers.
News of StorSimple integration with Azure has been long awaited, and these announcements do not disappoint those who have been looking for a StorSimple hybrid solution. You can request a demonstration here.
In addition to the StorSimple announcement, Microsoft also gave notice that partners would be able to access the Azure Machine Learning service preview on July 14. The benefit for partners is the ability to build advanced analytic cloud services for their own customers.
In his blog announcing further Azure innovations, Vibhor Kapoor, director of product marketing for Azure, discussed enhancements to the Azure Preview Portal, which “bridges the gap between infrastructure and platform services, so developers and IT professionals no longer have to work in disparate cloud environments.” These enhancements include
IaaS capabilities such as the ability to automate very large deployments, enabling single-click deployment of SharePoint farms from the Portal
Resource Group enhancements that continue Microsoft’s unique blending of IaaS and PaaS
Azure Image Gallery Updates with new virtual machine images
Azure SQL Database management within the Portal, similar to management of other Azure services.
On the Office 365 side, Microsoft will release three new Office 365 plans for small and mid-sized businesses, starting of October 1. The blog post summarizes the new options in the following table:
Partners can make money on Microsoft's cloud
All these announcements are discussed in the Official Microsoft Blog, which puts them all into context for partners. Of course, this outpouring of news is all in the interest of showing Microsoft’s support for partners and getting them revved up for WPC next week. Judging from the breadth and depth represented in this blast of blog posts, Microsoft is bent on demonstrating the power of its cloud offerings and proving to partners that they can make money in the cloud.