Microsoft Azure: what’s coming down the pipe
As cloud ecosystems steadily mature, it’s getting harder to predict which strategic direction each will choose. Will they focus on enterprise? Release more features to help the little guys? Will they truly innovate, just coast along, or catch up to the others? Either way, the coming year of cloud computing will bring as many interesting developments as the last. While only the decision makers at Redmond really know what’s in store for us with Microsoft Azure, I’ll offer a few theories about where they will – or should – go.
Microsoft Azure Learning Machine
In 2014, we saw the introduction of Azure Machine Learning. Machine Learning on Azure allows non-developers to quickly develop Proofs of Concept, and then deploy those algorithms and work flows as functioning APIs – usually without writing any code. This can greatly cut time to production, and being that the API runs on Azure, there is little to worry about in terms of infrastructure. I think Microsoft will continue honing marketplace algorithm offerings and providing deeper ecosystem integration well into this year. It is still a very new system, and I would be very interested to see how it will develop.
In 2014, we also saw Microsoft release a large number of services aimed at ‘real-time’ applications. Event Hubs help ingest millions of events per second, which can then be analyzed by Stream Analytics or Apache Storm on HDInsight to create a near-real-time analytics pipeline. I believe in the next year, as more and more solutions needing these types of services are created, there should be some welcome surprises for Microsoft Azure in terms of real-time processing. This is an exciting field, and developers will certainly need very strong partners to succeed.
The role of Big Data will also keep growing in 2015, with more services being added to HDInsight, and improvements to Azure SQL. As the rate of data generation continues to grow exponentially, these services are a must for the success of any seriously competitive cloud provider.
Expect the Microsoft Azure Marketplace to continue its growth (not that anyone else is predicting that it will shrink). As more and more vendors try their hands at developing multi cloud solutions, the marketplace should see its “shelves” stocked with more variety.
In general, I believe the years-long trend of lower pricing for the core services will continue. It seems cloud providers, including Azure, drop their prices at six month intervals. Service improvements should also continue at a regular pace as well, bringing better Virtual Machines and more liberal resource allowances.
We are also likely to see deeper Developer tool integration. Microsoft Visual Studio will obviously work nicely with Microsoft Azure, but other IDEs lag behind. In order for Microsoft to cement the Azure brand as not just “Windows in the cloud,” they need to reach out further into the developer ecosystem to ensure that there’s a fully stocked toolbox available. I believe they have been doing a great job so far, it will just take time for them to complete their feedback loop.
As for the Data Centers, Microsoft has made expansion their top priority. I would expect to see Middle East and Africa as the next candidates for new infrastructure projects, as Microsoft needs to invest a lot of hard thought at targeting emerging markets.
What are your thoughts on this topic? We would love to hear from you.