Microsoft Steadily Adding Enterprise Features to Azure in Bid to Take on AWS

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Microsoft Steadily Adding Enterprise Features to Azure in Bid to Take on AWS

By Laura Stotler

There is no doubt that Amazon Web Services (AWS) dominates the infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) space and has been a leader for years. Companies are continuously scrambling to partner with Amazon and AWS has announced some big-name partnerships recently.

 But while Amazon has been busy forging alliances, Microsoft has been slowly and steadily adding features and functionality to its Windows Azure cloud offering, and that leads some in the industry to ponder whether they may go head to head with AWS sometime soon.

 Microsoft has recently added a number of virtual machine (VM) enhancements to Azure, including a preview of a distributed cache system that will let users access cached versions of applications or VMs. The goal is to improve scalability and performance and provide schedule-based auto-scaling.

 The HDInsight service was also recently added, providing a BI tool that competes with the AWS Elastic Map Reduce (EMR) and Google’s BigQuery tool. The big data analytics platform is Apache Hadoop-based, a popular choice for sifting through big data. Research and Markets names Hadoop one of the leading technologies in the big data market, and Verizon just announced a partnership with Cloudera that will use the company’s Hadoop-based big data analytics services. Verizon recently revamped its cloud services in a bid to catch up with AWS, Google and Salesforce.

 Other recent enhancements to Azure include multi-factor authentication for services like VPNs, web applications and Office 365. Microsoft is also offering automatic backup to Azure and is working on a dedicated public cloud for federal government use.

 Microsoft has also been busy forging alliances around Azure, with KEMP Technologies announcing a third-party load balancer, Cloud Cruiser rolling out monitoring and optimization tools and Charito unveiling an analytics and BI tool. Dell and SUSE also announced support for Microsoft’s Hyper-V virtualization platform in the SUSE OpenStack, and Ubuntu’s Juju management platform also supports Azure services.

 “I have to say, however, that Microsoft continues to quietly build a compelling case for Azure for the enterprise,” tweeted James Urquhart, director of Dell’s cloud management product, last month.

 Microsoft reported $1 billion in annual sales of Azure and cloud-related programs last April in the first real sign that the company was catching up with AWS. Forrester Research says that only 20 percent of companies are using Azure, compared to the 71 percent using AWS. But that number could rise to 35 percent by next year.

 “I expect them to double annually from here,” said James Staten, Forrester analyst. “Microsoft probably has more net new growth opportunity sitting in front of them than probably anyone in the market.”




Edited by Cassandra Tucker

MSPToday Contributing Editor

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