At the Professional Developers Conference in Los Angeles in 2008, Microsoft announced the official launch of its cloud-based operating system, which until then had been shrouded in secrecy. Originally code named Red Dog after a well-known Silicon Valley dive, Azure has gone on to become an integral part of vast number of applications developed by the company for both internal and external partners.
Developed from scratch by a team of Microsoft’s best known developers, including Dave Cutler, who was the brain behind Windows NT and the use of Virtual Memory Systems, Azure was intended from the beginning to offer something different to Google and Amazon’s cloud platforms.
To keep things simple, the Red Dog development team leveraged Windows Server 2008 and other already existing Microsoft software assets. They then built an extra operating system layer on top to allow it to manage many thousands of Windows Server machines at once. Other subsystems were built to manage cloud syncing, file management, virtualisation and other core tasks.
The company initially did not push Azure to the limits of its potential, instead seeing it only in the Platform as a Service category of cloud computing services. Over time, its strengths were recognised and it came to be seen as a lucrative Infrastructure as a Service offering. Microsoft began providing Linux as an option for Azure, and it now runs on half of all Azure Virtual Machines.
Many in the industry now believe Azure is second only to Amazon in the cloud vending business. Microsoft has 54 Azure regions around the globe offering hundreds of services. Scarcely a week goes by without Microsoft announcing a partnership or endeavour that does not mention Azure and its associated machine-learning algorithms as a key ingredient.
In the past few months alone, the company’s executive team have outlined their plans to use Azure to drive transformations in healthcare, education, finance, environmental research, and the business of technology development in general. Microsoft does not break down in its earnings reports how much Azure brings in, but it is said to be a key component of its £23bn Commercial Cloud revenue stream.
Several key cloud services Microsoft has long planned to move over to Azure still use other infrastructure. Some more recent Office 365 features using Azure, SharePoint and Exchange are yet to see the switch, possibly due to the need to support legacy devices. Still, the company eventually gave in to customer demands and allowed Azure to be hosted on external data centres when Azure Stack was released in the middle of 2017.
No doubt more announcements that make mention of Microsoft Azure will be forthcoming at the company’s Future Decoded event in London. As artificial intelligence and other automation software continues to transform the workplace over the next decade, Microsoft is likely to be a key player.
For more information about how Microsoft’s cloud services can drive your company’s productivity and performance, get in touch with our friendly and knowledgeable customer service team here at WM Reply .