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Four Key Takeaways from Microsoft Ignite 2019

This year’s event, held in Orlando, featured more than 1,000 sessions and more than 200 hands-on opportunities for IT professionals to pick up innovative ideas for architecting new solutions as they migrate and manage customers’ infrastructure.

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A recurring theme at the recent Microsoft Ignite 2019 conference can be summarized in three words: hybrid cloud collaboration.

For WWT, Ignite was a key learning experience, just as it’s been in years past.  And, WWT demonstrated our company’s cloud vision and expertise during a featured presentation by Tyler Warren, WWT’s Practice Manager for Microsoft Cloud, titled “Accelerate your Migrations to Azure with Azure VMware Solutions” in the VMware booth. In addition, teams from WWT’s Advanced Technology Center took their “Silicon Valley of St. Louis” on the road to Ignite as guest presenters in the booth of storage provider Rubrik. WWT and Rubrik jointly demoed the company’s Rubrik for Microsoft Azure Lab, now available on WWT’s new digital platform. Rubrik’s secondary storage backup offering allows users to archive and restore easily through Azure. 

Exciting and informative as Ignite was on a variety of topics, it was the latest announcements about new partnerships related to hybrid cloud that caught our eye. While it’s still fresh in our minds, we’d like to share our four main takeaways from Microsoft Ignite 2019, and what they mean for you in your migration to a hybrid cloud infrastructure.

Azure Stack gets a major rebranding

Introduced two years ago, Azure Stack has already become an established name in cloud computing. Now Microsoft is rebranding “Azure Stack” as the family name for a suite of three distinct product offerings:

  • Azure Stack Hub (formerly Azure Stack) – The cloud-native integrated system is Microsoft's hybrid computing platform comprising multiple Azure services and technologies. In addition, Windows Virtual Desktop on Azure Stack Hub now offers a comprehensive desktop and app virtualization service running in the cloud. It allows users to deploy and scale Windows desktops and apps on Azure in minutes.
  • Azure Stack Edge (formerly Azure Databox Edge) – This cloud-managed appliance brings compute, storage and intelligence to the edge through an AI-enabled physical device and a local web user interface. At Ignite, Microsoft announced that Azure Stack Edge will feature new compute and AI capabilities including virtual machines, Kubernetes clusters and high-availability support and the ability to run beyond single nodes. High availability allows two nodes to act as a cluster so that in the event of a problem, workloads can failover from one node to the next. Azure Stack Edge enables customers to run custom workloads using virtual machines and delivers a consistent experience across cloud and edge for such things as developer tools, access control and workload management.
  • A third product, Azure Stack HCI, will retain its identity as Azure’s solution for hyper-converged infrastructures.

Equipped with these new product capabilities announced in the Azure Stack family, WWT looks forward to leveraging their strengths in creating integrated customer solutions that extend Azure value to the edge.

Azure Arc extends Azure services and management to any infrastructure

For customers desiring to simplify complex and distributed environments, Microsoft introduced Azure Arc, a set of Microsoft technologies that will extend Azure’s reach across cloud services providers. Whether an on-prem, edge or multicloud environment, Azure Arc enables deployment of Azure services anywhere and extends Azure management to any infrastructure.

This solution set is designed to project edge and on-prem resources back to the Azure portal for management in Azure. This provides customers with a single, centralized, Azure-based control plane for their edge, on-prem and other cloud resources. Now customers can organize and govern across environments, manage Kubernetes apps at scale, or run data services anywhere.

From WWT’s perspective, Azure Arc extends our ability to bring Azure services and management to any infrastructure. Now it’ll be easier to manage and deploy virtual machines, SQL databases, VMs and so much more – all of it progressing toward the ultimate goal of IT modernization.

Azure VMware Services (AVS) expands hybrid cloud deployment choices

Responding to market desires for interoperability, competing manufacturers have begun collaborating to make once-proprietary cloud solutions more generally available. For example, Microsoft has entered into a partnership with VMware to create Azure VMware Services. Released earlier this year, AVS provides a native, supported and certified VMware experience, enabling customers to run VMware services through Azure. It provides a complete VMware stack, including access to related third parties, with control either through Azure or the organization’s VMware experience of choice. One significant benefit of AVS is that it will provide enterprises with more choices when planning hybrid cloud deployments, operating and managing VMware applications across on-prem environments and Azure with a common framework.

In addition, Microsoft announced a partnership with Cisco in which Cisco UC WebEx is now compatible with Microsoft Teams group chat software.

Reinforcing the need for IT modernization

In tandem with these latest Azure-related developments in hybrid cloud solutions from Microsoft, WWT and Intel have intensified their joint focus on reinforcing the importance and benefits of modernizing their IT infrastructure, taking advantage of the hybrid cloud technologies showcased at Ignite – and it’s imperative that such transformations take place sooner rather than later. 

Extended support for SQL Server 2008 and 2008 R2 ended July 9, 2019, while extended support for Windows Server 2008 and 2008 R2 ends January 14, 2020. After that, privately sourced support, patches for new vulnerabilities and other maintenance will become costly or nonexistent.

That’s not the only way outdated IT assets pose a danger: Aging systems expose organizations to security breaches, malware and ransomware, stolen credentials and theft of proprietary assets. Inadequate security safeguards can even make it impossible for certain customers to do business with any organization that cannot meet their minimum standards.

In contrast, a modernized IT infrastructure enables agile organizations to respond more quickly to new opportunities, sudden business changes, and dynamic situations. As a result, businesses achieve increased revenue and profit as well as improved competitiveness, faster time to market, and other advantages. In their live sessions at Ignite 2019, Intel presenters detailed many of these challenges and solutions around IT modernization.

Underscoring the importance of the right systems integrator

Ignite 2019 reinforced the imperative for customers to move to a new hybrid cloud environment. To facilitate that change, Microsoft has bundled these offerings under a single umbrella that encompasses everything from the data center to the edge. As the need for IT modernization grows critical – especially with looming end-of-service deadlines – customers are advised to take full advantage of these newly improved hybrid cloud resources.

WWT, Microsoft and Intel understand; hybrid clouds are complex, and the last thing organizations need when migrating is the frustration of IT compatibility issues. They want the flexibility of having more than a single vendor, and they need all ingredients of their cloud solution to play well together. This is why a significant number of Ignite 2019 announcements were devoted to new ways that Microsoft is partnering with its competitors to bring improved solutions to market.

But, to make it all work requires an enterprise class systems integrator who can deliver a complete, correct solution – and can demonstrate that solution in action in a world-class research and development facility. WWT invites you to learn more about our approach and see the latest technologies in action in our Advanced Technology Center. Register on our digital platform to explore related articles, case studies and Microsoft hands-on labs. We’ll show you how the right hybrid cloud solution can, quickly and cost-effectively, make a world of difference.