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With Azure Hybrid and multicloud solutions Microsoft’s partners get a consistent and flexible way to innovate across on-premises, multicloud and the edge. In the past, I wrote how Managed Service Provider (MSP) partners can combine Azure Arc and Lighthouse to manage IT Infrastructure anywhere at scale: Azure Arc & Lighthouse: Managing IT Infrastructure Anywhere at-scale - Microsoft Tech Community and today I want to focus on Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) and how they can use Azure Hybrid to build compelling and powerful cloud solutions.
ISVs and hybrid
There may be many reasons why an ISV solution has hybrid and multicloud requirements:
- Customers may have compliance, data, and privacy restrictions that may prevent them from using an ISV solution fully in the cloud and prefers to run critical parts of it on-premises.
- There may be ISV applications that due to some cloud migration complexity can have layers of the architecture running on-premises or in other cloud environments.
- The ISV is building an edge solution and some processing needs to happen at the edge closer to the workload.
- There may be some distributed application scenarios that require pieces of the ISV solution to run on-premises, it can be an appliance, agents, etc.
- As with MSPs many ISVs have a multicloud strategy so their solution can be deployed to multiple cloud providers of the customer’s choosing.
- There can be network issues and latency restrictions that require the deployment closer to the customer’s sites.
In any of these situations, parts of the application may need to be hosted on-premises, at the edge or in another clouds which creates the challenge of how to maintain consistency, use common tools and resources, provide flexibility while addressing business needs and guarantee an enterprise-grade performance and security on your software that maybe hosted on an infrastructure out of your control. There maybe also circumstances where you as an ISV would like to provide a bundled solution that includes not only the software but also a validated infrastructure to run on the edge or on the customer’s datacenter.
Azure Arc and Azure Stack
By using a combination of solutions such as Arc and Azure Stack, an ISV gets a wider variety of alternatives and flexibility in terms of the infrastructure, data security as well as application management and deployment. How can Azure Arc and Azure Stack help your product? Here is an overview of the two technologies and a few scenarios to look at:
When discussing Azure Arc, we need to distinguish between two types of offerings:
- Azure Arc-enabled infrastructure, allows you to project your existing infrastructure resources both bare metal, VMs, Kubernetes clusters, vSphere and Azure Stack HCI into Azure so its operations can be handled with Azure’s management and security tools. This simplifies management, application delivery and consistency.
- Azure Arc-enabled Services enables you to create on-premises and multicloud applications faster with Azure PaaS and data services such as App Service, Functions, Logic Apps, Azure SQL MI and PostgreSQL database anywhere while using existing infrastructure.
As an ISV you can develop an application, manage it from the cloud and not worry about where that application is hosted. Azure Arc enabled infrastructure can be key for solutions deployed on the edge or on multicloud scenarios, so you can:
- Give the customer the flexibility to use their existing servers, hypervisor, or Kubernetes clusters while you have visibility on your solution.
- Standardize your operations in Azure independently of the monitoring, security, and compliance stack of the customer so it is consistent across the board
- Provide a scalable way to roll out new versions of your container-based code to edge, multicloud and on-premises locations using GitOps workflows from Azure, without any manual intervention.
- Manage these external resources with cloud-native tools from Azure to streamline repetitive tasks
With Azure Arc enabled services on the other hand, you can replicate your Azure Architecture based on cloud-native technologies and Azure PaaS services in other environments. Keep the best-in-class development and management experience of an Azure PaaS solution while hosting it in an on-premises environment, edge locations, and on other clouds, so you are able to:
- Add a hybrid option of your ISV solution that can be hosted anywhere with the same knowledge and experiences of running it in Azure.
- Give the customer the flexibility to host your solution on their existing Kubernetes clusters.
- Use PaaS services instead of having to build custom solutions only because you are conditioned by the hosting environment, this only adds more complexity.
- Standardize your application architecture so it is ready to run anywhere the customer needs to.
- Run the same application architecture with Azure PaaS service on-premises or even other cloud providers on top of managed Kubernetes clusters.
As you may have noticed already one of the key advantages of Arc for an ISV is that you can still use Azure solutions while the customer can still host them on existing infrastructure investments. However, for those customers or scenarios where you need a modern infrastructure, or a Kubernetes cluster, Azure Stack is a great fit.
Within Azure Stack there are several offers:
- Azure Stack HCI is a hyperconverged infrastructure stack to run virtualized and Kubernetes workloads on-premises while using Azure hybrid services for operations like monitoring, disaster recovery and backups from the Azure Portal. The ability to run a managed Kubernetes control plane through AKS is key as it is fully supported by Microsoft, and it reduces the complexity of deploying and managing a Kubernetes cluster.
- Azure Stack Edge is a fully Azure managed device purposely built for the edge to run compute, storage and ML. It is very commonly used in IoT scenarios for pre-processing, to transfer data to Azure, bring ML models to edge locations and a way to run VMs and containers at the edge that of course you can manage via Azure Arc.
- Azure Stack Hub is used to run your own private Azure services in your datacenter as a fully autonomous cloud, for the purpose of this article we will focus on Azure Stack Edge and Azure Stack HCI only.
With Azure Stack you are enabled to also modernize and expand the hosting platforms of your solution:
- Host your solution in your own datacenter on modern infrastructure
- Expand the Azure Stack tooling ecosystem with your ISV solution
- Run layers of your architecture or your solution on-premises or at the edge while managing it from Azure
- Bring your code closer to the workload on an integrated solution.
With Azure Arc and Azure Stack there are now no limits for Microsoft’s ISV partners to run their solutions anywhere with Azure.
If build an ISV solution with Azure Arc, make sure to reach out to the Jumpstart team so you are highlighted as Jumpstart Friend http://aka.ms/arcjumpstart.
- Azure Arc overview
- Azure Stack HCI overview: Azure Stack HCI solution overview - Azure Stack HCI | Microsoft Docs
- Azure Stack Edge documentation | Microsoft Docs
- Arc enabled servers on Azure Stack HCI Microsoft Azure Stack HCI | Azure Arc Jumpstart
- Azure Arc enabled Kubernetes on Azure Stack HCI AKS on Azure Stack HCI | Azure Arc Jumpstart
- To explore automation, deployment guides and over 100 different Azure Arc scenarios, visit the Azure Arc Jumpstart