I overheard an amusing comment at a Microsoft partner event earlier this month: “There isn’t a single human being at Microsoft who cares about anything other than Azure now.” Although a bit of an overstatement, it’s not difficult to see how one could reach such a conclusion. As countless news sources have reported, Microsoft’s cloud transformation is well underway, and Azure is a central component of Microsoft’s cloud strategy, particularly within enterprise, commercial, and public sector accounts.


EMC shares a huge number of customers and partners in common with Microsoft.  For these joint customers and partners, Microsoft’s transformation to a cloud company opens up a number of new opportunities, complemented by infrastructure solutions from EMC. Most importantly, Microsoft’s focus on Azure creates a great opportunity for EMC partners to highlight the value of hybrid cloud.


Our recently announced EMC Enterprise Hybrid Cloud solution will include full support for the Microsoft stack, including Hyper-V and Azure, over the course of 2015. Until then, many Azure integration points already exist with EMC storage, including support for Azure Site Recovery (ASR) in both VMAX as well as VNX. As my colleague Stefan Voss points out, the addition of ASR support can “provide Enterprise class Disaster Recovery for mission critical applications at scale.”


Azure-based hybrid clouds can also take full advantage of EMC storage and data protection solutions via Azure ExpressRoute, which allows customers to combine the scale and elasticity of public cloud compute with the data management capabilities of EMC. We recently announced support for ExpressRoute deployments that leverage Equinix’s Cloud Exchange, allowing up to 10GE connectivity into Microsoft’s Azure data centers. Likewise, EMC customers can now combine Avamar's market leading capabilities around deduplication and backup with Azure, both as a backup target for on-premises data, as well as using Avamar Virtual Edition as a virtual appliance running in Azure.


Finally, the on-premises component of hybrid cloud deployments will continue to require enterprise-grade infrastructure solutions. In partnership with Cisco, EMC has released a VSPEX reference architecture for Microsoft environments. These VSPEX configurations will provide EMC and Microsoft customers with a solid hardware infrastructure for the on-premises element of hybrid cloud, while benefitting from future engineered solutions such as EMC Enterprise Hybrid Cloud to provide ease of integration across public and private clouds.


Especially now, as Windows Server 2003 rapidly approaches end-of-life on July 14, 2015, the combination of Microsoft Azure’s scale and elasticity along with EMC’s data management capabilities provides a strong foundation for customers seeking to move to a hybrid cloud deployment model. In closing, I’d like to encourage EMC partners to learn more about EHC and other solutions, such as ExpressRoute, that complement Azure-based hybrid clouds. Likewise for customers, if you are considering Azure as part of your cloud strategy, reach out to your local EMC team, or to your preferred EMC partner, and learn how EMC and Microsoft have been working together to ensure a smooth journey to the hybrid cloud.