Microsoft Adds SD-WAN, Firewall Services to Azure


By: Michael Vizard

Microsoft is extending its cloud computing ambitions by previewing a software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN) and a cloud-native firewall service that will be added to the Microsoft Azure Global Network.

Formally announced at the Microsoft Inspire 2018 conference, the Azure Virtual WAN and Azure Firewall services are part of a larger Microsoft effort to unify cloud and edge computing services across a global network managed by Microsoft, says Jason Zander, executive vice president for Microsoft Azure.

Zander told conference attendees that Microsoft already processing two trillion messages a day across Azure networks that are now being extended into on-premises IT environments.

“Microsoft Azure is at the core of this generational shift,” says Zander.

The degree to which SD-WAN and firewall technologies will be transformed into managed services that organizations consume versus technologies they deploy themselves remains to be seen. Most organizations are expected to consume multiple cloud services, so any SD-WAN service provided by a cloud service provider may be too narrow in scope. Microsoft, however, is promising the SD-WAN service will include mechanisms to connect traditional on-premises routers and third-party SD-WAN appliances to the Azure service.

In contrast, the firewall service managed by Microsoft to protect applications running on Azure is likely to gain more traction at a time when cybersecurity professionals are in short supply. The Microsoft firewall is described as a fully stateful firewall service. IT organizations will be able to centrally create, enforce, and log application and network connectivity policies, spanning Fully Qualified Domain Names (FQDNs), IP Addresses, ports and protocols across subscriptions and virtual networks.

The Azure cloud service is clearly the fastest growing segment of the Microsoft portfolio. One way that Microsoft has been differentiating itself from other providers is by promoting a more flexible hybrid approach to cloud computing spanning instances of Azure in the cloud and servers running either a local instance of an Azure hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) platform or the Windows Server operating system.

That strategy appears to be paying off as Microsoft continues to firmly establish itself behind a rival cloud from Amazon Web Services that contends all workloads in one form or another should be primarily be deployed on a public cloud service.