Microsoft IT has moved nearly 90 percent of the company’s computing resources to the public cloud. We’re embracing digital transformation across the company and we’re adapting our infrastructure services to better support our users, products, and services in an ever-changing IT landscape.
Networking to enable the next generation of technology
Microsoft IT is on a journey to modernize the corporate network and enable the next generation of technology. We have several guiding principles that apply to our infrastructure and we’re using these to drive the transformation.
- We see infrastructure as a utility—it’s always on, highly scalable, resilient, and high performing.
- We want our company and our partners effectively connected to the cloud.
- We are constantly improving the way people and systems interact with our services through a variety of connection methods.
- We use telemetry and automation to enable intelligent, reactive, and automated processes that create an always-on utility that is resilient and dependable.
While the vision of next-generation apps is our destination—our North Star—it will require all of Microsoft IT to deliver. Our network architecture team is creating services that will support next-generation apps right now. We need to react to changes in user behavior and be proactive in supporting modern application design standards.
Building our network on a firm, yet agile, foundation
Microsoft is cloud-first, and that’s where most of our infrastructure lives. However, the datacenter is still part of our day-to-day operations, and a hybrid environment is part of our reality. While the public cloud is the focus, we need to make sure that our network services support both the cloud and the datacenter. To achieve our goals and meet network challenges, we’ve defined four key pillars upon which to build the next-generation network. They are:
- Internet first. The Internet is the greatest enabler of mobile-first, cloud-first technology. We want our applications to be Internet-facing as much as possible and, in turn, our people as well. Azure is the default for our IT apps and services, so we’re adapting our services with this usage pattern in mind. We’re focusing on moving the connection point closer to the user—from security inspection to network routing. We want our people to connect to Azure and the public cloud in the most efficient way possible.
- Wireless first. Wireless is the default network connectivity mechanism for most of the devices that we use, which is driven by employee behavior and needs. Therefore, we want our wireless networks to be available everywhere, and we want them to be the first choice for our people to connect to. We are reducing wired network infrastructure; wired infrastructure will be used only for special scenarios that are not suited to wireless.
- Adopt IPv6 faster. We’re accelerating the adoption of IPv6 across Microsoft. With the continued growth of the cloud and the Internet of Things (IoT), and limited availability of IPv4 address space, we need the capabilities of IPv6, including network security and controls that enable us to offer more complete support for the modern app environment.
- Automation everywhere. We want to manage and control the network with as little human interaction as possible. Automation is critical to reaching our goal of a predictive network, and it helps us get as close to a no-touch network as possible. Network management and maintenance all fall under the umbrella of network automation. Automation enables flexible network connectivity modifications to drive business goals and protect the security of our data.
With these pillars in place, our overall vision and strategy is to get the idea of network topology out of the way. In the past, our network segmentation and topology had logical boundaries. The new structure focuses on connections to our people and connections between applications, and it optimizes our network services for the cloud. This network requires far less human intervention and will allow applications to scale up and down as needed.
Meeting challenges and expanding what a network means to us
To enable a global and mobile workforce, we need network as a service to unlock capabilities in our infrastructure and create a modern IT environment. We see the keys to this as:
- Improve the user experience. We want to bring an intelligent and agile network as close to the user as possible. This means that we focus on internet and cloud communication over internal and corporate networks, modernize our security controls, automate the delivery and maintenance of network components, and create an agile network as a service.
- Develop a flexible and programmable network. A network that adapts to our needs enables us to stay at the edge of IT modernization. Automation and self-healing capabilities are extremely important on our digital transformation journey. Having the network as a service will give us the flexibility to adapt in scale and capability while increasing network management and efficiency.
We are creating a next-generation enterprise network infrastructure that enables digital transformation here at Microsoft. Our strategy will enable us to embrace the cloud and modern IT practices while making our users’ needs and our business our highest priority.
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