Wednesday, February 03, 2016

AzureStack : Beyond hybrid cloud play, capturing the future "near shoring" cloud market

Microsoft released AzureStack last week. This solution, built on top of the forthcoming Window server 2016, enables customers to deploy a private cloud with hybrid capabilities. This product extend beyond limited subset of Azure features offered by Azure pack as Microsoft promised a full 1:1 code match and feature match of the Azure cloud.

Microsoft argue that the real value of this offer stem from the combination of scale, automation and app development capabilities that has been evolved from the Azure platform. And that Microsoft is bringing these to the enterprise through Azure Stack.

In reality, this offer is a private cloud for public cloud Trojan horse. From this venture, Microsoft will be able to gather immense value from capturing workload informations to via their APIs while being adjacent to customer data. Not only it allows Microsoft to tailor Azure in order to ease its cloud service adoption. But also allows them to gather invaluable information about potential services that could be internalized within its own cloud solution via an ecosystem play. To a certain extend, it permit to outplay Amazon by reaching directly into its customer premises without having to upfront the CAPEX.

Some may argue that that Microsoft is late in deploying this strategy and I tend to agree with the analysis. But, I would also argue that Microsoft might try to jump an evolution step in the history of computing. One of the possibility is that Microsoft is looking at capturing the future market of cloud near shoring via AzureStack.

What is cloud near shoring you might ask : it is the opposite of cloud bursting. It allows company to move critical workload and/or data closer to the end user, in this case literally within the company itself while retaining the majority of its operations within a public cloud.
You have to remember that we are still bounded by the law of physics. We cannot transfer information faster than the speed of light and as a result with have a physical restriction when it comes to bandwidth and latency. Moreover new workloads are emerging that will require the presence of closely geo-replicated assets which will bootstrap the need for such cloud usage patterns. Immersive VR is one example, another is the real time business analytic combine with machine intelligence. In the future, companies might be hosting 90% or more of their workload + data in the cloud while running part of the services closer to where it is needed.

The possibilities around this concept are quite vast:  you can offer on premise or near premise near shoring solution via a form of CDN for cloud workload : CWDN or you Microsoft can resell for you your unused private cloud ressource to local user by example. 
As you can see, the original intent of enabling private public cloud transition via an on premise cloud might just be a deceiving late move enabling the capture of the next cloud market use case for Microsoft.