Microsoft is announcing today a whole bunch of new tools in its Azure public cloud in conjunction with the company’s first ever live-streamed AzureCon conference.
Starting today, the tech giant will offer core compute and storage services using data centers in three locations in India — Pune (Central India), Chennai (South India), and Mumbai (West India). That gives the company a bit of an edge in its battle against other cloud providers, including Amazon Web Services and Google Cloud Platform. (IBM’s SoftLayer has a data center planned for India.) Azure first announced plans to enter India a year ago.
The India data centers will start running Office 365 next month, and they’ll offer Dynamics CRM Online in the first half of next year, according to a blog post on the news from Microsoft’s Jason Zander.
Azure Container Service
Microsoft is also introducing the Azure Container Service, a tool based on Apache Mesos and open-source parts of startup Mesosphere’s Data Center Operating System (DCOS) to make it easy to deploy application code wrapped up in containers onto Azure servers. (This isn’t a huge surprise, as Amazon, Google, and IBM all have their own container deployment services.)
In partnership with Nvidia, Microsoft is acting on a frequent consumer request by bringing graphic processing units (GPUS) to Azure in the new N-Series of virtual machines. The new VMs will run on servers with Tesla K80 GPU accelerators, using the recently released Nvidia Grid 2.0 technology.
“Part of it is definitely the longstanding partnership we’ve had with Nvidia, but also aligning it with our ability to deploy new hardware in some of these data centers,” said Mike Schutz, general manager of product marketing in Microsoft’s Server and Tools division, in an interview with VentureBeat. (IBM, Amazon, and Alibaba have introduced GPU-backed VMs in the past.)
Raw infrastructure, geographic availability, container support, and, of course, price are all typical battlegrounds in the growing infrastructure as a service market. Despite troubles in other parts of its business, Microsoft is picking up in the cloud infrastructure market — Schutz said Azure revenue doubled year over year in the most recent quarter. So it would be natural for Microsoft to keep investing on these fronts, and others.
Azure IoT Suite
Indeed, Microsoft is “pulling a Microsoft” today and announcing a new bundle of existing products. The new IoT Suite includes Azure Event Hubs, Azure Machine Learning, Azure Data Lake, and Power BI, Schutz said. And to help customers make sure all these tools will work with users’ Internet-connected devices, Microsoft is setting up an official Azure Certified for IoT program. Beaglebone, Freescale, Intel, Raspberry Pi, Resin.io, Seeed, and Texas Instruments are already signed up as partners for the new program, according to the blog post.
Microsoft did something similar recently with the Cortana Analytics Suite. But clearly the Internet of Things makes sense for more than just Windows at Microsoft. Rather than offer a dedicated service aimed at that hype-filled area, as Salesforce did earlier this month, Microsoft is coming out with a solution.
The IoT Suite is available now, while previews for the N-Series and the Azure Container Service will begin in the months to come, the blog post noted.