Robert Smith, Microsoft Alliance Manager at Sol-Tec

This week sees Microsoft Ignite kicking off in Orlando and a chance to hear from Microsoft on all the latest and greatest innovations coming to Azure, Microsoft 365 and beyond. 

As you might expect, Azure and Microsoft 365 dominated the keynote. We will dive into Microsoft 365 in a future post, but for now, let’s focus on Azure. 

As part of the ongoing updates, several services have been expanded or rebranded: 

Azure Stack has been rebranded to Azure Stack Hub. With Azure Stack Hub you can run Azure services on-premise, allowing you to meet regulatory or compliance requirements while utilising the benefits of Azure. It can help you solve challenges around data sovereignty, help you modernise your application estate and readily handle the challenges of disconnected scenarios. 

Azure Data Box Edge is being rebranded to Azure Stack Edge and brings the compute power of Azure to anywhere you need it. Using hardware and software solutions you can deploy services anywhere, allowing you to process data close to its source and reduce latency, send data to Azure over the network, even when bandwidth is limited and manage all your edge appliances through the Azure portal. New ruggedised and portable solutions allow you to choose the right appliance for your individual needs, including devices that allow you to carry Azure around in your backpack! 

Azure Stack HCI keeps its name and remains the solution for organisations wanting to realise the benefits of hyperconverged infrastructure by running virtualised applications on-premise, using Windows Admin Center to connect to Azure for cloud services. 

But one of the biggest announcements, and probably the one likely to cause the most confusion, was the announcement of Azure Arc.

Azure Arc is a set of technologies that extends Azure management and enables Azure services to run across on-premises, multi-cloud and edge.” Microsoft 

…but what does that actually mean? 

Microsoft’s original hybrid solution was Azure Stack, which they launched back in 2017. This has the promise of allowing customers and partners to run Azure services on-premise in their own datacentres. Early into the testing process, it became clear that the only way to ensure Azure Stack remained properly serviced and compliant was to specify and certify what hardware could run it, sort of defeating the point for a lot of customers who wanted to sweat their legacy, uncertified hardware. 

On paper Azure Stack was a big deal, as rival cloud providers, the Amazons and Googles of this world, pitched Hybrid and On-Premise infrastructures as unnecessary in the modern Cloud First world. They quickly had to eat humble pie as more and more customers requested these features, with Amazon launching AWS Outposts and Google offering central management of Kubernetes clusters as part of their Anthos platform. 

Azure Arc is the brand name for a collection of Microsoft technologies that allow organisations to manage and monitor on-premise, Edge and multi-cloud resources centrally from a single pane within the Azure portal. This means that you can now add your on-premise data centre as another Azure location, or even add services hosted in other cloud providers and manage them all from this single location.  With Azure Arc you can:

  • Extend management, monitoring and control across your environments 
  • Adopt Cloud Best Practices on-premise 
  • Implement Azure security capabilities anywhere 


Azure Arc Infographic


This is going to be hugely important for organisations that want to simplify the management and monitoring of their entire environment, regardless of where it sits and it’s going to be a game changer in terms of making Azure the single place to be for all your IT services. 

We know how confusing it can be to keep on top of the latest and greatest that Microsoft has to offer. Azure Arc is currently in preview so now is the best time to understand how it might be of benefit to you and your organisation. Let us help you understand how it could fit into your IT strategy and accelerate your journey to the cloud. Just contact our Azure Experts at or give us a call on 01189 514 200.

Later this week we’ll have an update on all things new within Microsoft 365 that came out of Ignite and how we can help you utilise the new tools and functionality, achieve productivity gains and help your organisation digitally transform.