Microsoft rolls Office and Windows together, launches Azure Stack hybrid cloud

By Tom Sullivan
01:34 PM
New offerings can simplify IT’s job of managing Microsoft environments and open opportunities for innovation in the cloud.
Azure Stack hybrid cloud

A week after Microsoft revealed plans to layoff what could be thousands of employees, the company is holding its Inspire partner conference this week and, while it caters to many industries, there are developments of interest to hospital IT shops about its Office, Windows and Azure cloud services.

For starters, the software giant pulled its Office 365, Windows 10 and Enterprise Mobility + Security offerings into a single services dubbed Microsoft 365.

The new Microsoft 365 is available in two tiers, Microsoft 365 Enterprise and Microsoft 365 Business. As the names suggest, the former is intended for large hospital and health systems while the latter is geared toward small and medium-sized organizations.

[Also: Amazon and Microsoft just crushed Google and IBM in the latest Gartner cloud IaaS rankings]

Combining all three products will streamline IT management across various Windows-based apps, devices and users, Kirk Koenigsbauer, corporate vice president for Microsoft’s Office team, wrote on the company’s website.

“It represents a fundamental shift in how we will design, build and go to market to address our customers’ needs for a modern workplace,” Koenigsbauer added.

In healthcare and other sectors, the cloud is becoming an increasingly common piece of that modern workplace. To that end, Microsoft also announced Azure Stack for hybrid cloud environments.

[Also: Cloud computing will change the nature of hospital IT shops]

The offering encompasses a core set of Azure services, development tools and Marketplace content, Mike Neil, Microsoft’s corporate vice president of Azure Infrastructure and Management wrote.

Customers can buy what Microsoft described as an integrated appliance running Azure Stack from Dell EMC, HPE and Lenovo today with similar options to follow from Cisco and Huawei.

Azure Stack essentially gives hospitals just getting started with cloud services the hybrid option as it can be used to keep the system and data on-premise. For more advanced hospitals turning to infrastructure-as-a-service platforms to run proofs-of-concept or pilot potential apps and software, Azure stack can create an on-site tool for those projects.

Microsoft’s Azure services placed second to Amazon in consultancy Gartner’s latest Magic Quadrant and outpaced Google, IBM and Oracle, among others.

Dell, HP and Lenovo will begin shipping Azure Stack systems in September, Microsoft said. Microsoft Enterprise 365 will be available for purchase as of August 1, 2017, while prospective customers can preview Business 365 beginning on August 2, 2017, with general availability slated for sometime this fall. 

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