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Virtual Images Gather in the New Microsoft Azure Marketplace

If the Microsoft Azure public drive is going to be the centerpiece of its infrastructure offering, the company needs to bring third-party applications and tools along with it. That's where the newly opened Microsoft Azure Marketplace comes in. The company announced the Microsoft Azure Marketplace at a press and analyst briefing in San Francisco late last month led by CEO Satya Nadella and Scott Guthrie, executive VP of cloud and enterprise. As the name implies, it's a central marketplace in which providers can deliver to customers to run their software as virtual images in Azure.

A variety of providers have already ported these virtual images to the marketplace -- some are pure software vendors, while others are providers of vertical industry solutions -- and a number of notable offerings have started appearing. Many providers announced their offerings at last month's TechEd conference in Barcelona.

One that Microsoft gave special attention to at the launch of the Azure Marketplace was Cloudera, the popular supplier of the Apache Hadoop distribution. Cloudera has agreed to port its Cloudera Enterprise distribution, which many Big Data apps are developed on, to Microsoft Azure. That's noteworthy because Microsoft's own Azure HDInsight Hadoop as a Service is based on the Hortonworks Apache Hadoop distribution. While it could cannibalize Azure HDInsight, those already committed to Cloudera are far less likely to come to Azure than if Cloudera is there.

"To date, most of our customers have built large infrastructures on premises to run those systems, but there's increasing interest in public cloud deployment and in hybrid cloud deployment, because infrastructure running in the datacenter needs to connect to infrastructure in the public cloud," said Cloudera Founder and Chief Strategy Officer Mike Olsen, speaking at the Microsoft cloud briefing in San Francisco. "This we believe is, for our customers, a major step forward in making the platform more consumable still."

Also up and running in the Azure Marketplace is Kemp Technologies, a popular provider of Windows Server load balancers and application delivery controllers. The Kemp Virtual LoadMaster for Azure lets customers create a virtual machine (VM) optimized to run natively in the Microsoft cloud, said Maurice McMullin, a Kemp product manager.

"Even though Azure itself does have a load balancer, it's a pretty rudimentary one," McMullin said. "Having the Kemp load balancer in there totally integrated into the Azure environment allows you to script some of those environments and application scenarios. The impact of that is, for an organization that's looking toward the cloud, one of the big challenges is trying to maintain the consistency by having a consistent load balancer from on premises, meaning you get a single management interface and consistent management of apps and policies on premises or in the cloud."

Lieberman Software has made available as a virtual image in the marketplace its Enterprise Random Password Manager (ERPM), which the company said provides enterprise-level access controls over privileged accounts throughout the IT stack, both on premises and now in Azure.

The company says ERPM removes persistent access to sensitive systems by automatically discovering, securing and auditing privileged accounts across all systems and apps within an enterprise. Authorized administrators can delegate to users quick access to specific business applications, as well as corporate social media sites in a secure environment. And those activities are automatically recorded and audited. It also ensures access to such identities is temporary and able to ensure unauthorized or anonymous access to sensitive data is avoided.

Another security tool is available from Waratek Ltd., a supplier of a Java Virtual Machine (JVM) container, which lets enterprises bring their own security to the cloud. Called Runtime Application Self-Protection (RASP), it monitors for key security issues and provides policy enforcement and attack blocking from the JVM.

In the JVM, the company offers a secure container where administrators can remotely control their own security at the application level, said Waratek CEO Brian Maccaba. "This is over and beyond anything the cloud provider can do for you and it's in your control," Maccaba says. "You're not handing it to Microsoft or Amazon -- you're regaining the reins, even though it's on the cloud."

The number of offerings in the Azure Marketplace is still relatively few -- it stands at close to 1,000 based on a search via the portal, though it is growing.

Posted on 11/10/2014 at 12:44 PM


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