Microsoft teams with MSPs to hook enterprises into Azure

Microsoft is partnering with eight managed service providers, including SD-WAN startup Aryaka, to connect enterprises with applications in the Azure cloud.

Mitch Wagner, Executive Editor, Light Reading

July 15, 2019

4 Min Read
Microsoft teams with MSPs to hook enterprises into Azure

Microsoft is teaming with eight managed service providers (MSPs), including SD-WAN specialist Aryaka, as part of a new effort by the web services giant to help enterprises connect to its Azure cloud.

The aim of the Microsoft Azure Networking Managed Services Provider (MSP) Program is to make it easier for enterprises to hook up their international branches to the Azure cloud. The program combines the connectivity and management processes offered by the MSPs with the cloud platform capabilities offered by Azure.

The MSPs signed up to the program are: Aryaka; BT; Dimension Data (now part of NTT Ltd.); data center giant Equinix; Japanese MSP IIJ; Australia's Megaport; and Tata Communications.

The program also gives Microsoft and the MSPs a stronger marketing pitch to existing and potential enterprise customers that want to use the Azure cloud: For example, Aryaka's managed SD-WAN service will be available to enterprises via the Microsoft Azure Portal. That's a win for Aryaka -- it gets to leverage Microsoft's mindshare and blessing and makes the specialist, already one of the leading SD-WAN players in a very competitive market, easier to find for enterprises not already familiar with its offering.

But Dave Ginsburg, Aryaka VP of product solution marketing, tells Light Reading there's more to it than that.

"This is not a 'Barney deal,' as we call them -- 'I love you and you love me.' Microsoft is looking for ways to better facilitate the access of enterprises into Azure networking services, to scale it on a regional and global basis," he says.

Microsoft announced the program with a blog post Monday.

In terms of its role in the program, Aryaka's managed SD-WAN provides a simplified and optimized way for enterprises to connect to Azure's WAN Hub, which is used by enterprises to manage their Azure virtual networks (VNets) from multiple locations worldwide. That simplification comes from easier and quicker activation and configuration changes, for example.

Enterprises can connect their locations to VNets using ExpressRoute, a 10Gbit/s connection provided by Azure, or through a connection offered by an MSP such as Aryaka, which operates a global private network. The enterprise users can also use the connections for secure branch-to-branch communications using IPsec.

The partnership strengthens the relationship between Microsoft Azure and Aryaka, but it's by no means exclusive -- as part of its multicloud connectivity strategy, Aryaka also has deals with Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Oracle, Ginsburg notes.

The new Microsoft program is the latest example of the web-scale cloud giants partnering with communications service providers, and reminds the market again that those web-scale players have connectivity offers of their own.

AT&T and Microsoft debuted an edge partnership in February, to deliver Azure services closer to the 5G edge. Amazon Web Services launched its Global Accelerator networking program in November, to improve performance and availability of applications running across AWS regions by bypassing the public Internet and instead transporting application data on AWS's own AWS Global Network.

Google launched high-availability 100Gbit/s interconnect, private cloud access and VPN services to help enterprises connect more reliably to applications running in Google Cloud; that launch was in April.

Aryaka scored a $50 million Series F funding round in May, bringing the total to $184 million. Even better, it won the 2018 Light Reading Leading Lights award for Company of the Year (Private). CEO Matt Carter joined last year.

Aryaka provides both SD-WAN software and its own private network, based on leased lines. That makes it different from the likes of SD-WAN market leaders Cisco and VMware, which don't run their own networks to support their technology offerings, and from the service providers like AT&T and Verizon, which have extensive networks but (so far) have not developed their own SD-WAN technology. But that doesn't make Aryaka unique – Cato Networks has a similar model.

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About the Author(s)

Mitch Wagner

Executive Editor, Light Reading

San Diego-based Mitch Wagner is many things. As well as being "our guy" on the West Coast (of the US, not Scotland, or anywhere else with indifferent meteorological conditions), he's a husband (to his wife), dissatisfied Democrat, American (so he could be President some day), nonobservant Jew, and science fiction fan. Not necessarily in that order.

He's also one half of a special duo, along with Minnie, who is the co-habitor of the West Coast Bureau and Light Reading's primary chewer of sticks, though she is not the only one on the team who regularly munches on bark.

Wagner, whose previous positions include Editor-in-Chief at Internet Evolution and Executive Editor at InformationWeek, will be responsible for tracking and reporting on developments in Silicon Valley and other US West Coast hotspots of communications technology innovation.

Beats: Software-defined networking (SDN), network functions virtualization (NFV), IP networking, and colored foods (such as 'green rice').

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