Microsoft’s Hybrid 2.0 strategy: Azure ARC

I know there have been times when I dreamed of having some of the capabilities such as Azure Policy on-prem as we do in Azure. Sure, there are things I can do locally right now that are similar to Azure Policy, but at some cost and I may or may not have that skill-set on board. Now we do, without having to bolt on this component or that feature.

Microsoft today announced a slew of new collaboration and productivity services to kick off its Ignite conference in Orlando, Florida. Azure took the spotlight, headlined by Azure Arc — which effectively enables Azure services anywhere.

What is Azure Arc?

Most companies are using the cloud in some fashion, whether they’re leveraging Microsoft 365, AWS FSx, or Azure Backup, regardless of size and scale, while still maintaining their on-premises footprint. This hybrid approach allows companies to utilize their on-prem environment while still being able to leverage cloud technologies. More often then not, they have a presence with more than one cloud service provider, adding to their management complexity as well as the need for diverse technical skillset inventory.

We can simplify this problem today. What if we could leverage the cloud innovations and apply those services anywhere, regardless of the environment or platform with a single set of technologies? Enter Azure Arc.

What is the use case of Azure Arc?

Simply put, Azure Arc provides you with the opportunity to run Azure services anywhere. There has already been a move in this direction with several of Azure’s services. For example, Azure Security Center provides the opportunity to monitor and protect our on-prem workloads, both physical and virtual, Windows and Linux. Azure Arc has upped the “ante” by extending more Azure management services to manage your workloads regardless of where they live, providing a consistent approach across diverse environments.

Management

These capabilities include Azure Resource Manager, Azure Shell, Azure Portal, API as well as Azure Policy. On top of those services, Azure Arc has made it easier to secure your assets across hybrid environments through the use of role-based access control (RBAC) and security policies (think Azure Security Center).

Data Services

Azure Arc also extends to your data needs as well. It provides the ability to deploy Azure SQL databases and others where you want it. It provides a consistent interface to view all Azure data services across all platforms and environments while managing security and governance everywhere. Think of having the ability to scale out your on-prem Kubernetes clusters to Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS) as needed. This truly changes the game as it relates to hybrid data management. You can learn more about Azure Data services here.

What’s in it for me?

Azure Arc is in preview starting today. In this summary, I think anyone can find a true use case for Azure Arc. Whether your a solutions architect, database administrator or a cloud engineer. This appears to be a one-stop-shop for managing your enterprise hybrid environment regardless of which cloud service providers we are leveraging.

Summary

So that’s Azure Arc in a brief nutshell. If you’re anything like me, you can’t wait to kick the tyres and see how it works cross-platform as well as on-premises. I’m interested to see how the management side of Azure Arc works with my on-premises environment. My primary native tools for managing in the cloud have been what most of us use, the portal, PowerShell as well as Azure CLI. It will be interesting to see how the UI flows with both on-prem, cross-platform and native Azure. I look forward to seeing (in person) how Microsoft unveils Azure Arc this week at Microsoft Ignite 2019.

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