Microsoft ups cloud ante with Azure Marketplace, SingTel partnership

IT vendor launches one-stop portal offering third-party cloud applications and services running on Azure, and inks partnership with SingTel to enable Asia-Pacific customers to move their data and workload between various cloud environments.
Written by Eileen Yu, Senior Contributing Editor

Microsoft has inked a new cloud partnership with SingTel as well as officially lived its new cloud market portal, touted as a one-stop shop offering third-party applications running on Azure. 

SingTel and Microsoft today unveiled the new Cloud Operating System Network (COSN), which allows enterprises in Asia-Pacific to move their data and workload between various cloud environments, including public, private, and SingTel's own virtual private cloud. 

The announcement marks Microsoft's first cloud alliance with a telco in the region, and one that makes sense for businesses, said Scott Guthrie, the IT vendor's executive vice president for cloud and enterprise, during a media briefing Tuesday in Singapore. 

Noting that most enterprises already have relationships with major telcos for their networking and communications requirements, Guthrie said tapping this existing link and infrastructure would allow these customers to more quickly connect to Azure. 

Lee Han Kheng, SingTel Group Enterprise's vice president for global products, said in a statement: "This collaboration benefits enterprises which use widely available Microsoft applications as they can now be assured of seamless interoperability between their Microsoft-based private clouds and SingTel Managed Cloud.

"They can move their workload to any cloud which best meets their price, security, compliance, and performance objectives. Our customers can keep their mission-critical data on-premises, while harnessing the limitless computing power and storage of cloud on a pay-as-you-use basis."

COSN customers can access the Azure public cloud as well as run Microsoft applications on SingTel's cloud environment, the telco added. Data will be hosted in the Singapore carrier's data centers in Singapore and Australia, through its subsidiary Optus, which will also support COSN customers across the Asia-Pacific region. 

One-stop cloud portal via Azure Marketplace

At the briefing, Guthrie also announced that the new Azure Marketplace had just gone live, touting it as a one-stop shop offering third-party applications and services running on the Microsoft cloud platform. It replaces the vendor's various Azure stores, Azure Data Marketplace, and virtual machine gallery into a single portal. 

Through Azure Marketplace, customers can purchase and deploy any of the over 2,000 available cloud services, which include databases, virtual machines, SaaS (software-as-a-service), he said. They can view how much they are spending on their cloud services, the list of services they have deployed, as well as details of the cloud services such as the capacity of the virtual machines they deployed.

According to Guthrie, Microsoft signs up more than 10,000 new Azure customers each week and more than 40 percent of its Azure revenue today comes from startups and SMBs (small and midsize businesses). There are 350 million users on the Azure Active Directory, on which more than 18 billion authentications are processed each week. 

The vendor's annual revenue runrate currently clocks more than US$4.4 billion, he said, adding that there are 19 Azure datacenter regions in operation worldwide including one in Singapore, two each in Japan and China, and two are scheduled to open soon in India. "That's almost twice as many as AWS has, and almost six times more than Google cloud," Guthrie said. Each Azure region can run up to 600,000 servers. 

Asked about the ongoing case involving a U.S. court subpoena to access data stored in the vendor's servers housed overseas, he said Microsoft will battle any attempt to remove data from its customer's local region. 

"We make a promise around data sovereignty to never move data outside the region in which our customers are hosting it, and we will fight any subpoena [against this]," he said. 

The vendor in September was found in contempt of court for refusing to hand over data stored in its Dublin, Ireland, data center to the U.S. government, following an order to do so by a U.S. judge.

When asked, Guthrie said the case has not had any impact on its cloud business in Asia-Pacific. 

Microsoft today also announced that Office 365 subscribers will receive unlimited OneDrive storage, at no additional cost, as part of their subscription including Office 365 Home, Personal, and University. They were previously limited to 1TB. 

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