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Microsoft Ignite is my favorite conference. And Orlando is my favorite destination for conferences.

If you work with Microsoft technologies, Ignite is where it is at.

In this post, I want to share some thoughts and highlights from my experience at this year’s Ignite.

Microsoft Ignite key takeaways

A week after the show, and here are the things I am still thinking about:

The Azure Data Box

Our clients have piles of cold data that they want to archive to the cloud. Drive shipping is usually a topic of discussion. If you are familiar with AWS Snowball, then you’ll be happy to see Azure Data Box is in public preview.

azure data box

The current iteration as seen above has 100 TB capacity. Petabyte-scale variations are reportedly soon to follow.

To use it, you simply order this device from the Azure Portal. It arrives at your location. You get a code. You connect and transfer your data. The digital ink return address means that you send it back without fuss.

We’ll blog more about the way that HubStor can work with Azure Data Box. Remember, we have the cool ability to sync original security ACLs and metadata with drive shipping.

HubStor partners with TransVault Software

On Monday at the show, we did a joint press announcement with our new technology partner, TransVault Software.

ignite expo hall

The team at TransVault (in the yellow shirts in the picture above) specialize in email archive migrations. As organizations move to Office 365, their legacy email archive can be a problem to sort out. Things like journaling, ex-employee data, and public folders are also common challenges.

Now that TransVault has developed an integration with HubStor using the HubStor SDK, clients can move their legacy email data into Azure in a streamlined fashion with full chain-of-custody.

In Azure, we can also solve the ongoing journaling problem, provide a secure and searchable low-cost email archive that is WORM compliant in your Azure account. And public folders are no match for the Public Folder Migrator.

Thanks again to Barney Haye and the team at TransVault for having me at your booth. The Expo Hall was a happening place, and thanks to all those that stopped by to speak with us.

WSP shares why they use HubStor

microsoft ignite speakers

On Thursday at the show, I went on stage with Andy Saunders-Lucy, Manager of Servers and Storage, from our client WSP to talk about how we use the Azure cloud platform for file system archiving.

I would like to say a special thanks to Andy for doing this. I know that a few hours went into prepping slides and mentally preparing what to say. (Andy, you did an awesome job!)

I also wish to say thank you to Vamshi Kommineni from the Azure Storage team for including us in your session.

Azure WORM storage is coming

azure worm storage

I was thrilled to see Microsoft share their plans for immutable WORM storage in Azure. This is a hot requirement for compliance and data security.

We plan to integrate with it so that HubStor’s WORM retention periods and litigation holds are passed down deeper in the cloud technology stack. Doing so will provide the following benefits:

  • Clients have greater assurance of data immutability, and
  • It will unlock the option for clients that require WORM storage to run HubStor in their Azure account. Today, when clients need WORM storage, their HubStor tenant must be hosted in HubStor’s Azure account to ensure there is no customer access to the underlying cloud resources wherein they might bypass HubStor’s WORM controls.

The O365 inactive user kerfuffle

There have been rumors that Microsoft will be dropping the hammer on no-cost inactive users in Office 365.

At Ignite, the rumors proved to be true. Microsoft announced a $3 monthly fee for inactive user accounts in O365.

There was significant backlash from the community, and within the week at Ignite, Microsoft withdrew plans to begin charging on October 1 for inactive users.

I think the story here is far from over. Some organizations have over 10,000 inactive users in their O365 tenant. It should come as no surprise that Microsoft is going to want to monetize this data. We know that data is rarely, if ever, deleted. The storage demand from these inactive users is an assault on Microsoft’s profit margins.

Do not be surprised to see Microsoft return soon with the inactive user license fee. It will likely be less than $3/month/user.

The question for companies that wish to keep this data is at what point does leveraging a searchable Azure archive solution such as HubStor make more sense than the O365 fees. Sure, in O365 you have a single search, but how often do you need to search inactive users.

In a future post, we’ll run some numbers and looks at the lower-cost storage strategies in Azure that might be employed for the mailbox and OneDrive data of inactive users.

Azure Stack

Azure Stack is an exciting extension of Azure for on-premises and hybrid cloud scenarios that was a big focus at the show. Azure Stack enables organizations and private cloud providers to deliver Azure services from their data center. If you are an ISV, your solution that runs in the Azure cloud should have no problems running in Azure Stack (so we are told).

There are mixed opinions about whether Azure Stack is a good strategic move by Microsoft. I personally think it is good. We run into organizations that operate multi-petabyte scale compliance workloads, and Azure Stack is a more likely step to get them moving in the direction of the Azure platform than a complete lift and shift to the cloud.

Furthermore, Azure Stack removes network connectivity issues for organizations that struggle with good connection to any of the available Azure regions.

Expanding Global Azure Footprint

Have you ever had to explain what “the cloud” is in basic terms to friends or family?

Here is a picture of an Azure datacenter (sometimes I find it easiest to explain the cloud by showing a picture such as this):

Azure Regions

With 42 Azure regions announced, Microsoft has the largest global footprint of any public cloud provider. Microsoft now operates millions of servers across 100+ datacenters (an Azure region can have multiple datacenters) with two million kilometers of intra-datacenter fiber and a 72+ TB per second backbone.

Azure adoption is reportedly growing 100% YoY, with over 90% of Fortune 500 using the Microsoft cloud. On average, 7 petabytes each hour are written to Azure Storage.

In partnership with Facebook and Telefonica, Microsoft just laid down 4,000 miles of cable across the Atlantic between Virginia and Spain, delivering a pipe capable of 160 TB per second data transfer.

These are truly exciting times for cloud computing and those of us working with Azure.

Azure File Sync

If you follow developments in Azure Storage, then you probably heard about Azure File Sync (AFS) while at the show.

I think AFS is a great step by Microsoft. We suspected years ago that Microsoft might tackle the global namespace feature in StorSimple, but we were wrong. It turns out that the global file system is now something you can enable in Windows Server easily through a configuration with Azure Files.

We see a complementary nature between AFS and HubStor.


My first time at the Orlando Convention Center was for the Microsoft Exchange Conference (MEC) in October 2000. I was happy to hear that Ignite will be back in Orlando next year.

At Ignite 2018, you will find a HubStor booth at the Expo Hall.

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