Microsoft Azure Blog

Discover how you can innovate anywhere with Azure Arc

2022-06-1509:00

Welcome to Azure Hybrid, Multicloud, and Edge Day—please join us for the digital event. Today, we’re sharing how Azure Arc extends Azure platform capabilities to datacenters, edge, and multicloud environments through an impactful, 90-minute lineup of keynotes, breakouts, and technical sessions available live and on demand.

Welcome to Azure Hybrid, Multicloud, and Edge Day—please join us for the digital event. Today, we’re sharing how Azure Arc extends Azure platform capabilities to datacenters, edge, and multicloud environments through an impactful, 90-minute lineup of keynotes, breakouts, and technical sessions available live and on-demand. As part of today’s event, we’re announcing the general availability of Azure Machine Learning for hybrid and multicloud deployments with Azure Arc. Now you can build, train, and deploy your machine learning models right where the data lives, such as your new or existing hardware and IoT devices.

When I talk with customers, one of the things I hear most frequently is how new cloud-based applications drive business forward. And as these new applications are built, they need to take full advantage of the agility, efficiency, and speed of cloud innovation. However, not all applications and infrastructure they run on can physically reside in the cloud. That’s why 93 percent of enterprises are committed to hybrid deployments for their on-premises, multicloud, and edge workloads.1

With Azure, we meet you where you are, so you can innovate anywhere. The Azure cloud platform helps you bring new solutions to life—to solve today’s challenges and create the future. Azure Arc is a bridge that extends the Azure platform so you can build applications and services with the flexibility to run across datacenters, edge, and multicloud environments.

Azure Arc is a set of technologies from Microsoft that is a bridge that extends the Azure platform so customers can build applications and services with the flexibility to run across datacenters, edge, and multicloud environments.

Azure Arc provides a consistent development, operations, and security model for both new and existing applications. Our customers are using it to revolutionize their businesses, whether they’re building on new and existing hardware, virtualization and Kubernetes platforms, IoT devices, or integrated systems.

I’m constantly amazed by the ways people are using Azure and Azure Arc to create innovative solutions, and at the same time, overcome longstanding security and governance challenges.

John Deere brings modern cloud benefits on-premises and at the edge with hybrid data services

The iconic green and yellow John Deere tractors are a familiar sight in fields around the world. With a well-stocked technology portfolio that spans cloud platforms, on-premises datacenters, and edge devices at factories, John Deere’s modernization strategy makes the most of its assets while cultivating a path for the future.

Together with Azure Arc–enabled SQL Managed Instance, John Deere helps connect the dots across all these environments and puts the power of the cloud to work in the company’s existing infrastructure. The result? A unified view of operations across platforms that pivots on Azure Arc, helping John Deere to optimize manufacturing operations. Together with Azure Arc–enabled SQL Managed Instance, the hybrid solution is helping John Deere drive down operational costs and accelerate innovation.

Another opportunity the cloud provides is to transform data insights into new products and services. For years, Azure has provided machine learning and IoT solutions to unlock signals and data from the physical world. Azure Arc brings data services from Azure, like SQL, PostgreSQL, and Machine Learning so you can harness data insights from edge to cloud with an end-to-end solution from local data collection, compute, storage, and real-time analysis.

We recently announced Azure Arcenabled SQL Managed Instance Business Critical is now generally available. The Business Critical tier of Azure Arc–enabled SQL Managed Instance is built for mission-critical workloads requiring the most demanding performance, high availability, and security. Azure Arc–enabled SQL Managed Instance comes from the same evergreen SQL in Azure that is always up to date with no end of support.

Wolverine Worldwide analyzes sensitive data on-premises to optimize the supply chain

Wolverine Worldwide owns beloved activewear and lifestyle brands such as Chaco, Saucony, Merrell, Keds, Sperry, and more. When the pandemic created a new set of unanticipated supply chain challenges across the global economy, Wolverine turned to cloud innovation to help its 13 brands.

“Previously, data was a little tough to get at. It was either a gut feel, or the opportunity bypassed us while we were doing our analysis. With Azure Arc, Wolverine can use Azure Machine Learning and data services to analyze holistically data from the supply chain, manufacturing, and its ecommerce business while keeping sensitive data on-premises.”—Jason Miller, Vice President for Enterprise Data, Planning & Analytics, Wolverine Worldwide

Whether you want to secure and govern servers or create a self-service experience on VMware from Azure, Azure Arc is validated on a variety of infrastructures so you can always get your applications and data to run where you need them.

Businesses can start with Azure Stack HCI support for single-node clusters, which is generally available, for flexibility to deploy Azure Stack HCI in smaller spaces and with lower processing needs. Additionally, we’re announcing today that Windows Admin Center can now manage your Azure Arc–enabled servers and Azure Stack HCI clusters from the Azure Portal. Using this functionality, you can securely manage your servers and clusters from Azure—without needing a VPN, public IP address, or other inbound connectivity to your machine.

Greggs modernizes security and operations

A bakery and coffee shop in the UK with over 2,200 retail locations, Greggs is another customer using Azure Arc–enabled security and management tools. The company needed visibility across its digital estate from on-premises Windows Servers to Kubernetes running in AKS.

“By deploying Azure Arc, we can use Microsoft Defender for Cloud for our on-premises server estate, something we couldn’t do before. We’ve gained significant security benefits—like secure risk score, compliance scoring, and assessments. The central aggregation of logs shows us if a security event actually occurs across multiple devices so that we can pinpoint potential causes.”—Scott Clennell, Head of Infrastructure and Networks, Greggs

For customers like Greggs, we continue to innovate on Azure Arc–enabled servers. We recently announced Azure Arc–enabled servers support for private endpoints, a new servers monitoring workbook created in the public Azure Monitor GitHub repository, and a preview of SSH access to Azure Arc–enabled servers.

With Azure Arc, you have access today to a comprehensive set of Azure services, such as Microsoft Defender for Cloud, Microsoft Sentinel, Azure Policy, Azure Monitor, and more to secure and manage resources and data anywhere.

Millennium bcp streamlines multicloud app deployments with Azure Arc

“We needed…the ability to move a workload running in an Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS) cluster to a Google Cloud Platform or Amazon Web Services cluster, or vice versa, in case of emergency. We needed something that could help us turn those into an enterprise-level service. That’s where Azure Arc came in.”—Nuno Guedes, Cloud Compute Lead, Millennium bcp

Millennium bcp is the largest private bank in Portugal and uses Azure Arc for a standard approach to deploy containers to its multicloud environment. Azure Arc helps companies like Millennium build and modernize cloud-native apps on any Kubernetes using familiar developer tools, like Visual Studio Code and GitHub, as well as implement consistent GitOps and policy-driven deployments across environments.

To support our customers’ app development, we recently announced GitOps with Flux v2 in AKS and Azure Arc–enabled Kubernetes, general availability of Arc–enabled Open Service Mesh, general availability of Azure Key Vault Secrets Provider extension, and the landing zone accelerator for Azure Arc–enabled Kubernetes.

Finally, a huge thank you to our partners and customers in the Azure Arc community. We hope you will enjoy the event and learn how Azure Arc can benefit your organization. We look forward to connecting and listening to your feedback.

Azure Hybrid, Multicloud, and Edge Day highlights

You can access everything on-demand, and check out the additional demos and customer stories in the event portal. Enjoy the event experience. I can’t wait to see how you innovate anywhere.


1Hybrid & Multicloud Perceptions Survey, Microsoft.

Azure powers rapid deployment of private 4G and 5G networks

2022-06-1409:00

As the cloud continues to expand into a ubiquitous and highly distributed fabric, a new breed of application is emerging: Modern Connected Applications. We define these new offerings as network-intelligent applications at the edge, powered by 5G, and enabled by programmable interfaces that give developer access to network resources.

As the cloud continues to expand into a ubiquitous and highly distributed fabric, a new breed of application is emerging: Modern Connected Applications. We define these new offerings as network-intelligent applications at the edge, powered by 5G, and enabled by programmable interfaces that give developer access to network resources. Along with internet of things (IoT) and real-time AI, 5G is enabling this new app paradigm, unlocking new services and business models for enterprises, while accelerating their network and IT transformation.

At Mobile World Congress this year, Microsoft announced a significant step towards helping enterprises in this journey: Azure Private 5G Core, available as a part of the Azure private multi-access edge compute (MEC) solution. Azure Private 5G Core enables operators and system integrators (SIs) to provide a simple, scalable, and secure deployment of private 4G and 5G networks on small footprint infrastructure, at the enterprise edge.

This blog dives a little deeper into the fundamentals of the service and highlights some extensions that enterprises can leverage to gain more visibility and control over their private network. It also includes a use case of an early deployment of Azure Kubernetes Services (AKS) on an edge platform, leveraged by the Azure Private 5G Core to rapidly deploy such networks.

Building simple, scalable, and secure private networks

Azure Private 5G Core dramatically simplifies the deployment and operation of private networks. With just a few clicks, organizations can deploy a customized set of selectable 5G core functions, radio access network (RAN), and applications on a small edge-compute platform, at thousands of locations. Built-in automation delivers security patches, assures compliance, and performs audits and reporting. Enterprises benefit from a consistent management experience and improved service assurance experience, with all logs and metrics from cloud to edge available for viewing within Azure dashboards.

Enterprises need the highest level of security to connect their mission critical operations. Azure Private 5G Core makes this possible by natively integrating into a broad range of Azure capabilities. With Azure Arc, we provide seamless and secure connectivity from an on-premises edge platform into the Azure cloud. With Azure role-based access control (RBAC), administrators can author policies and define privileges that will allow an application to access all necessary resources. Likewise, users can be given appropriate access to manage all resources in a resource group, such as virtual machines, websites, and subnets. Our Zero Trust security frameworks are integrated from devices to the cloud to keep users and data secure. And our complete, “full-stack” solution (hardware, host and guest operating system, hypervisor, AKS, packet core, IoT Edge Runtime for applications, and more) meets standard Azure privacy and compliance benchmarks in the cloud and on the enterprise edge, meaning that data privacy requirements are adhered to in each geographic region.

Deploying private 5G networks in minutes

Microsoft partner Inventec is a leading design manufacturer of enterprise-class technology solutions like laptops, servers, and wireless communication products. The company has been quick to see the potential benefit in transforming its own world-class manufacturing sites into 5G smart factories to fully utilize the power of AI and IoT.

In a compelling example of rapid private 5G network deployment, Inventec recently installed our Azure private MEC solution in their Taiwan smart factory. It took only 56 minutes to fully deploy the Azure Private 5G Core and connect it to 5G access points that served multiple 5G endpoints—a significant reduction from the months that enterprises have come to expect. Azure Private 5G Core leverages Azure Arc and Azure Kubernetes Service on-prem to provide security and manageability for the entire core network stack. Figures 1 and 2 below show snapshots from the trial.

Logs with time stamps showing start and completion of the core network deployment.

Figure 1: Screenshot of logs with time stamps showing start and completion of the core network deployment.

Trial showing one access point successfully connected to seven endpoints.

Figure 2: Screenshot from the trial showing one access point successfully connected to seven endpoints.

Inventec is developing applications for manufacturing use-cases that leverage private 5G networks and Microsoft’s Azure Private 5G Core. Examples of these high-value MEC use cases include Automatic Optical Inspection (AOI), facial recognition, and security surveillance systems.

Extending enterprise control and visibility from the 5G core

Through close integration with other elements of the Azure private MEC solution, our Azure Private 5G Core essentially acts as an enterprise “control point” for private wireless networks. Through comprehensive APIs, the Azure Private 5G Core can extend visibility into the performance of connected network elements, simplify the provisioning of subscriber identity modules (SIMs) for end devices, secure private wireless deployments, and offer 5G connectivity between cloud services (like IoT Hub) and associated on-premises devices.

Azure Private 5G Core is a central control point for private wireless networks.

Figure 3: Azure Private 5G Core is a central control point for private wireless networks.

Customers, developers, and partners are finding value today with a number of early integrations with both Azure and third-party services that include:

  • Plug and play RAN: Azure private MEC offers a choice of 4G or 5G Standalone radio access network (RAN) partners that integrate directly with the Azure Private 5G Core. By integrating RAN monitoring with the Azure Private 5G Core, RAN performance can be made visible through the Azure management portal. Our RAN partners are also onboarding their Element Management System (EMS) and Service Management and Orchestrator (SMO) products to Azure, simplifying the deployment processes and have a framework for closed-loop radio performance automation.
  • Azure Arc managed edge: The Azure Private 5G Core takes advantage of the security and reliability capabilities of Azure Arc-enabled Azure Kubernetes Service running on Azure Stack Edge Pro. These include policy definitions with Azure Policy for Kubernetes, simplified access to AKS clusters for High Availability with Cluster Connect and fine-grained identity and access management with Azure RBAC. 
  • Device and Profile Management: Azure Private 5G Core APIs integrate with SIM management services to securely provision the 5G devices with appropriate profiles. In addition, integration with Azure IoT Hub enables unified management of all connected IoT devices across an enterprise and provides a message hub for IoT telemetry data. 
  • Localized ISV MEC applications: Low-latency MEC applications benefit from running side-by-side with core network functions on the common (Azure private MEC) edge-compute platform. By integrating tightly with the Azure Private 5G Core using Azure Resource Manager APIs, third-party applications can configure network resources and devices. Applications offered by partners are available in, and deployable from the Azure Marketplace.

It’s easy to get started with Azure private MEC

As innovative use cases for private wireless networks continue to develop and industry 4.0 transformation accelerates, we welcome ISVs, platform partners, operators, and SIs to learn more about Azure private MEC.

  • Application ISVs interested in deploying their industry or horizontal solutions on Azure should begin by onboarding their applications to Azure Marketplace.
  • Platform partners, operators, and SIs interested in partnering with Microsoft to deploy or integrate with private MEC can get started by reaching out to the Azure private MEC Team.

Microsoft is committed to helping organizations innovate from the cloud, to the edge, and to space—offering the platform and ecosystem strong enough to support the vision and vast potential of 5G. As the cloud continues to expand and a new breed of modern connected apps at the edge emerges, the growth and transformation opportunities for enterprises will be profound. Learn more about how Microsoft is helping developers embrace 5G.

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