Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella: Our cloud plays well with others

Microsoft is further targeting startups and ISVs with the opening of the Azure Marketplace, led by the launch of Cloudera for Azure.

SAN FRANCISCO---Microsoft brought the cloud -- along with a dash of fall rain -- from Redmond, Wash. to the Bay Area on Monday morning.

With an update on Windows maker's cloud strategy, it marked another chance for Microsoft to differentiate its infrastructure from the likes of Google and Amazon Web Services, among others.

At the same time, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella continued to champion the company's cloud as one that plays well with other apps and architectures.

"We are well and truly in this mobile-first, cloud-first world," asserted Satya Nadella, clarifying that vision as one that focuses on "the mobility of the individual experience more than just the device."

Microsoft's unique contribution, according to Nadella, rests on productivity and platforms for individual employees, teams, and business processes. At its core, the "ubiquitous platform" revolves around Azure, Office 365, and Dynamics.

"You really don't want to get hijacked by one or two application problems," Nadella reflected, insisting the Microsoft cloud supports any device and operating system from Windows Server and Linux to the iPhone. 

With support for these platforms and data stacks, Nadella continued, it means any developer using any language or framework can bring their code to Azure.

"We are not building our hyper-scale cloud in Azure in isolation," Nadella remarked. "We are building to compose well with other clouds."

Scott Guthrie, executive vice president of Microsoft's cloud and enterprise group, outlined a slew of improvements that Azure has undergone over the last 12 months. 

Guthrie cited that Azure picks up more than 10,000 customers each week with more than 350 million Active Directory users to date. More than 60 percent of Azure customers now subscribe to higher-level services while 40 percent of Azure's revenue stems from startups and ISVs.

Microsoft is further targeting the latter two groups with the opening of the Azure Marketplace, led by the launch of Cloudera for Azure.

Nadella highlighted Cloudera as one example of a corporate partner taking advantage of hybrid  and hyper-scale support to spin out its own instance on Azure while doing big data processing and pumping that information directly into Microsoft Office 365. 

A continuing focus for Azure is building out its global footprint, starting with two new Australia regions going online next week, bringing Azure's total region count to 19, translating to 600,000 servers in each Azure region. Guthrie boasted the region count is "more than twice offered by Amazon Web Services and six times more than Google Cloud Platform."

To build upon that momentum, Microsoft unveiled its new G family of virtual machine sizes optimized for data workloads, touted as the largest in the public cloud with up to 32 cores using Intel Xeon processors. On top of that is a new premium storage offering supporting up to 32 terabytes of storage per virtual machine, promising less than one millisecond of read latency.

But the big draw is Microsoft's Cloud Platform System, an Azure in-a-box-type offering consisting of integrated hardware and software designed to bring Azure to customer's existing data center facilities. Powered in partnership with Dell, the Azure Cloud Platform System is schedule to roll out next month.

The introductions follow up last week's news that Microsoft is building new container technologies into the next Windows Server release to ensure Docker apps can run on Windows Server, either on-premises or via Azure.

"The cloud really lights up when you run great applications on top of it," Guthrie posited, predicting the container-based approach will enable faster and better app development environments.

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