On Thursday, Microsoft announced the general availability of Managed Applications in the Azure Marketplace.
"Managed Applications, an Azure unique offering, enables you to deploy entire applications and empower your partner to fully manage and maintain the application in your environment," Corey Sanders, director of compute for Azure, wrote in a blog post signaling the announcement.
For example, a partner like Xcalar can now deliver both the application and a fully operated solution, rather than just deploying a set of VMs—offering "Ap/Ops," Sanders wrote. Xcalar and other partners will also be able to maintain and service the application solution directly in their partner's Azure environment.
This is a first for the public cloud, Sanders wrote. "This new distribution channel for our partners will change customer expectations in the public cloud," he added. "Unlike our competitors, in Azure, a marketplace application can now be much more than just deployment and set-up."
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The inspiration for Azure Managed Applications came from business users and their third-party partners, Sanders wrote. Many enterprises want to transform IT operations, but need the simplicity of fully-managed applications, without infrastructure issues. And partners want to offer their customers more value by adding service operations to their portfolios.
The announcement follows Microsoft making the Azure Managed Applications Service Catalog generally available at Microsoft Ignite, allowing corporate central IT teams to create and manage a catalog of solutions and applications to be used by employees. Now, with the addition of Azure Marketplace as a distribution channel, partners can add more value by offering lifecycle and support services, with an incremental, flat monthly fee.
With Managed Applications, managed service providers (MSPs), independent software vendors (ISVs) and system integrators (SIs) can build turnkey cloud solutions using Azure Resource Manager templates, Sanders wrote. The application IP and the underlying, pre-configured Azure infrastructure can be packaged into one serviceable solution, enabling "Ap/Ops" and offering the application and operation together.
The offering also allows customers to deploy these solutions in their own Azure environment as a sealed service, fully operated and maintained by their partner. Only minimal levels of access are granted for increased security.
Because Managed Applications are sealed and immutable, nothing will change in the application or the infrastructure configuration "unless it is an explicit lifecycle operation by the trusted partner," Sanders wrote.
Launch partners include Xcalar, OpsLogix, and Cisco Meraki.
"Whether these solutions are complex applications that are custom-built and maintained by MSPs or packaged applications delivered and serviced by ISVs, you can focus on what you need to do to accelerate your business transformation without having to worry so much about running someone else's software," Sanders wrote.
Microsoft has made a number of moves to enhance its Azure services in recent months, including adding Cray supercomputing capabilities to the cloud, in an effort to help businesses more easily scale workloads for artificial intelligence (AI), analytics, and modeling. The tech giant also recently detailed a four-step plan for removing barriers to the cloud. However, Amazon remains the most popular offering in the Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) space at this point in time.
The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers
1. Microsoft announced the general availability of Managed Applications in the Azure Marketplace, which allow organizations to deploy entire applications and empower their partners to fully manage and maintain the application in your environment.
2. Managed Applications are sealed and immutable, so nothing will change in the application or the infrastructure configuration unless it is an explicit lifecycle operation by the partner.
3. The move is one of a number that Microsoft has made in recent months to compete with Amazon in the Infrastructure as a Service space.
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Alison DeNisco Rayome is a Staff Writer for TechRepublic. She covers CXO, cybersecurity, and the convergence of tech and the workplace.