Microsoft Expands Its Hyperscale Cloud Footprint

The software giant bets big on enterprise cloud computing with more data centers, larger virtual machine sizes and a new integrated hardware solution.

Microsoft cloud

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and Scott Guthrie, executive vice president of the company's Cloud and Enterprise group, hopped on stage today during a press event in San Francisco to announce some major updates to the company's cloud computing ecosystem.

In his remarks, Nadella revealed the extent of the company's ambitions in terms of turning Azure, Office 365 and the rest of the Redmond, Wash.-based company's cloud ecosystem into a one-stop cloud software and services platform for business that supports other operating systems besides Windows. "The Microsoft cloud is the most complete cloud offering that empowers every business across every industry in every geography," he boasted.

"We are also a cloud that supports any OS on any container technology, so we support both Linux and Windows Server," said Nadella. "Microsoft loves Linux," he added.

To enhance the company's global reach, Azure is setting up shop in Australia, announced Guthrie. "One key element of hyperscale is having a cloud that provides truly global reach," he said. "Next week, we'll officially [announce] our two new Australia regions to the public," bringing the total number of Azure regions to 19.

"That's more than twice the number of regions that AWS [Amazon Web Services] offers today, and that's more than six times the number of regions than the Google cloud offers today." Each Azure region is comprised of multiple data centers (up to 16)—each roughly the size of a football field—that houses up to 600,000 servers per region.

Following last month's launch of high-performance D-Series virtual machines (VMs) for Azure, Microsoft also announced new G-Series VM sizes that "are optimized for data workloads," said Guthrie. G-Series virtual machines use the "very latest Intel Xeon processors" and offer up to 32 CPU cores, 450GB of RAM and over 6.5TB of local solid-state drive (SSD) storage. "They provide the largest virtual machine sizes in the public cloud," claimed Guthrie.

On the storage front, Guthrie announced Azure Premium Storage, an offering that provides "up to 32TB of storage per virtual machine" and can sustain 50,000 input/output operations per second (IOPS). Additionally, he claimed Azure Premium Storage can deliver "sub-millisecond latency for all read operations."

Guthrie also announced the Azure Cloud Platform solution, "a fully integrated hardware and software solution that enables enterprises as well as service provider environments to benefit from all of the learnings we had in terms of running our public cloud, and be able to bring that scalability and efficiency into their own data centers." The first Azure Cloud Platform systems will be sold by Dell starting Nov. 3.

The new Azure Marketplace provides an app-store-like home for Azure VMs, applications and services, helping to accelerate the connection of enterprises to ISVs [independent software vendors] and startups," said Guthrie. Finally, the company announced support for CoreOS, a "container-optimized Linux that runs with a minimal memory footprint," he said.

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...