Like many of the best inventions, Microsoft Azure was sort of discovered by accident. While it was initially devised as a way to support Microsoft’s online services, from Hotmail to search, it morphed into something much bigger when Bill Gates encouraged the small group of engineers to go public with the project, according to a report by The Seattle Times.
The first version of Microsoft’s public cloud, which was called Windows Azure at the time, launched in 2010. The rest, as they say, is history.
Here are five things to know about Microsoft Azure from Microsoft Azure corporate vice president Jason Zander, who sat down for an interview with Network World.
1. Office 365 Acts as Gateway to Microsoft Azure
Zander says that having Office 365 “certainly paves the way for additional wins.” Other Microsoft cloud-based services including SharePoint Online and Azure Active Directory help introduce customers to the cloud.
“The way we help customers is if you decide to start on your cloud journey with one of these components it’s easy to adopt the next because they really are designed to integrate very well together,” Zander says.
2. Demand for IaaS “Crazy Off the Hook”
Microsoft Azure revenue grew 116 percent in the most recent quarter. Though Microsoft doesn’t break out “specific revenue for IaaS” Zander is that the demand for IaaS is “crazy off the hook.”
“I’m building out stuff as fast as I possibly can. We deploy more servers in a day now than we did in an entire year in 2011 and that just continues to compound. I’ve got the team cranking 24/7/365 just to keep up with the demand.”
3. Range of Cloud Workloads
According to Zander, the most common way that customers start with Azure is websites that they’re trying to make public for B2C engagement.
“DevTest is certainly another big one. There’s also a lot of work around hybrid scenarios, even starting off with simple things like doing backup, disaster recovery and being able to failover from your own data center into our data center. Those all make sense for a lot of companies.”
Increasingly, Zander says, companies are turning to public cloud for more specialized workloads, including SAP.
4. Containers Help Bridge Linux, Windows
In the interview, Zander touted Microsoft’s investment in Docker projects, both as a contributor on the open source side, and internally using containers for Microsoft products over the past five years.
Azure will continue to support containers for Linux and Windows, Zander says.
“The other thing I’d say is we’re basically an open platform and so from that perspective we’re supporting all workloads whether they’re Linux or Windows, open source or not, take your pick, it doesn’t really matter,” Zander says. “At this point I feel like we’re uniquely positioned to bridge those Linux and Windows ecosystems.”
5. Every Company Will be a Software Company
Zander says that to support more traditional companies using software and data to optimize their business, Microsoft wants to is “democratize that technology and make it more accessible not only to developers who build software but also those customers that want to get insights.”
“We’ve got a very comprehensive solution that starts all the way down with developers and APIs in hardware and goes all the way up into things like Power BI and Excel,” he said. “We offer ways to leverage that same kind of technology but you don’t have to be a software or data scientist to be able to do it.”