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After a decade in the works Microsoft (almost) has all its own services on Azure


Ten years ago, Microsoft officials pledged to move Office 365 to Azure, and it looks like this goal of having all first-party services hosted via Microsoft’s own platform is soon to come into fruition.

Even as recently as five years ago, Microsoft still wasn’t running some of its major services on its own Azure cloud. Since then, the company has made a concerted effort to change this situation and it’s closing in on being able to claim all its first-party services, including Office 365, Xbox Live and Bing services, are running on Azure.

That said, the more services migrated, the more there is to keep an eye on, so hopefully Microsoft have some cracking managers in the pipeline. It was only back in April last year that Microsoft failed to notice a major Azure outage thanks to a sleeping manager.

Letting sleeping managers lie however, there are a lot of reasons for any company, including Microsoft, to want to have all of its cloud services in one proverbial basket.

By doing this, Microsoft and others can more quickly build new products; adhere to specific compliance needs; take advantage of cross-cloud underpinnings like the Microsoft Graph APIs; scale more quickly; use its own Azure-hosted services as proof-of-concept examples for customers; and, last but not least, save money.

Like Bing and Xbox Live, Office 365 has been happily running in Microsoft’s own data centres, but wasn’t actually hosted on Azure. And although it’s still not quite there yet, officials have acknowledged they’re getting closer.

In a statement from Azure chief technology officer Mark Russinovich, Microsoft said, “Most of Microsoft 365 services, including Teams, SharePoint Online and Office online, as well as Xbox Live services run primarily on Azure infrastructure today. Mailbox storage for Exchange Online and is also in the process of moving to this standard infrastructure.”

That said, there has been some recent noise from Microsoft, claiming it was in fact already running all services via its own platform. Back in June, the following post about Teams appeared:

“Azure is the cloud platform that underpins all of Microsoft’s cloud services, including Microsoft Teams. Our workloads run in Azure virtual machines (VMs), with our older services being deployed through Azure Cloud Services and our newer ones on Azure Service Fabric.”

And it would appear Microsoft are remaining pretty tight lipped about how it got its services moved, perhaps because they want us to assume all services are already running via their own platform.

That said, Microsoft has been at this for the last ten years, therefore there is at least some information out there. An internal effort called the ‘CloudOptimal’ programme was implemented to get Microsoft’s services up and running on Azure.

While all newer services, the likes of Teams, Windows Virtual Desktop and the xCloud gaming service were built to run on Azure from the get-go. However, larger legacy services like Exchange Online weren’t, and still require migration.

I’m not sure if Microsoft have anything else in the works right now to complete the last pieces of the Azure puzzle, but the CloudOptimal programme still appears to be going strong, with many employees giving reference to it on their LinkedIn accounts today.

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