Microsoft Aims for Cloud Completeness With Azure Updates

The tech titan rolls out new capabilities in an effort to make Azure the one-stop cloud for enterprise and HPC workloads.

Microsoft cloud

Amazon had an early start with its Web Services (AWS), Simple Storage Service (S3) and other offerings, but Microsoft is striving to turn its Azure cloud computing platform into the go-to cloud for enterprises. On July 9, the company added new capabilities to firm up its cloud platform, which supports both Windows and Linux, and provides a wide range of infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS), platform-as-a-service (PaaS) and hybrid-cloud solutions.

"Today, we are releasing several new announcements across Microsoft Azure that further our vision of delivering the most complete, open cloud in the industry," said Mike Schutz, general manager of cloud platform marketing for Microsoft.

Among them is heterogeneous workload support for Azure Site Recovery. The feature, based on InMage technology, enables customers to recover, migrate and manage workloads in mixed environments that include AWS, VMware and other platforms.

Microsoft acquired InMage, a San Jose, Calif., cloud data protection software company, and its lightweight Scout software last year. Scout tracks data changes with negligible performance impact on production servers and provides local backup and remote replication services using a single data stream.

"Microsoft is now working to integrate the InMage Scout technology into Azure Site Recovery service, in order to give customers a simple, cost-effective way to ensure business continuity with the power and scale of the Azure global cloud," a Microsoft spokesperson told eWEEK during the deal's announcement.

In the tech's latest implementation, it will help Azure Site Recovery move AWS workloads to Azure. "These new capabilities provide an easy on-boarding to Azure, along with the hybrid flexibility and freedom of the Microsoft Cloud Platform," stated Schutz.

It also adds support for VMware and physical server recoveries in Azure, adding to existing Hyper-V support, Microsoft's own virtualization technology.

"This now enables you to use a secondary site, private cloud or Azure as your disaster recovery site within one Microsoft solution," Schutz said. "Extending and protecting VMware workloads into Azure is an easy, automated process and works seamlessly with your existing infrastructure."

For organizations seeking to exploit the cloud's massive processing capabilities for their high-performance computing (HPC) projects, Microsoft also today announced virtual machines that run for Linux Remote Direct Memory Access (RDMA) with Intel Message Passing Interface (MPI).

"We are the only cloud vendor to offer RDMA, which enables virtual machines to communicate over the low-latency, high-throughput InfiniBand network," said Schutz. "This network provides less than 3-microsecond latencies and more than 3.5G-bps bandwidth."

In tests conducted with the help of Livermore Software Technology Corp. and D3VIEW, Schutz reported that the solution provided "near-linear scaling" to 256 processing cores while modeling an automotive crash.

Azure Batch, based on the company's acquisition of cloud HPC company GreenButton, is now generally available. "Batch is a service that combines our previous GreenButton acquisition with the power of Azure infrastructure, providing the ability to execute large-scale, high-performance computing (HPC) scenarios in Azure," he stated.

Finally, Microsoft released HPC Pack 2012 R2 Update 2. The update provides support for Linux Virtual Machines, allowing organizations to seamlessly extend their Linux-based HPC environments to Azure when additional capacity is required.

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the network of...