You can now post your hard drive to Microsoft and get them to upload your data to the cloud

Azure customers who want to move large amounts of information to the cloud can now arrange to have their hard drives transported to Microsoft’s data centres in the UK.

Azure Import/Export uses Microsoft’s high-speed, secure internal network to connect a hard drive to the cloud, which is faster, cheaper and more secure for companies and organisations than moving data via an internet connection.

Microsoft’s cloud clients pay a flat fee to transport their drive via a courier to one of Microsoft data centres in this country. The information is then uploaded to the cloud and the hard drive is couriered back to the customer. Charges to store the information in the cloud then apply.

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Azure Import/Export is one of three new features Microsoft has recently made available in UK data centres.

Customers can now analyse large amounts of data with HDInsight, the only fully-managed Hadoop service in the cloud. Hadoop is open-source software for storing and analyzing information – everything from emails and sensor readings, to server logs, Twitter feeds and GPS – which doesn’t require expensive supercomputers or specialised hardware. It makes reliable, scalable and distributed computing possible on industry-standard servers, allowing customers to tackle petabytes of data on smaller budgets.

A study last year by market intelligence firm IDC found that HDInsight customers spend an average of 63% less per terabyte than organisations running Hadoop using their own servers. Microsoft customers also said their IT staff spend much less time supporting Hadoop in the cloud with HDInsight compared with running on-premise Hadoop.

Microsoft also announced the release of Azure Container Registry in the UK. The cloud-based repository enables customers to store and manage private Docker container images – templates that are needed to build a running Docker Container, which makes it easier for users to create apps by breaking up the workload.

“Companies of all sizes are embracing containers as a fast and portable way to lift, shift and modernize into cloud-native apps,” said Steve Lasker, Program Manager for Azure Developer Experiences. “As part of this process, customers need a way to store and manage images for all types of container deployments.

“We’re announcing the general availability of Azure Container Registry supporting a network-close, private registry for Linux and Windows container images. Azure Container Registry integrates well with orchestrators hosted in Azure Container Service, including Docker Swarm, Kubernetes and DC/OS as well as other Azure Services including Service Fabric and Azure App Services. Customers can benefit from using familiar tooling capable of working with the open source Docker Registry v2.”

Azure customers can use Container Registry alongside Azure Container Service Engine, which lets users create and manage containers.

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Microsoft opened its UK data centres in September last year. Since then, thousands of customers, including the Ministry of Defence, the Met Police, parts of the NHS and Centrica, have signed up to take advantage of the sites, which offer UK data residency, security and reliability.

Other services include:

  • The ability to store financial details in UK data centres
  • The option to use private connections to the sites, with Microsoft’s partners providing a gateway from PSN/N3 to ExpressRoute and into Azure.
  • Azure Backup and Site Recovery, so customers can back up and restore their files from data centres based in this country.
  • Azure Automation, which lets customers to save time and increase the reliability of administration tasks they have to complete, such as checking whether they have exceeded the size of their online database or overseeing security measures.
  • Azure Security Centre, which helps customers prevent, detect and respond to threats, giving them full visibility and control over their secure network.
  • Service Fabric lets developers focus on building features for their applications, without needing to design and write additional code to deal with reliability, scalability or latency.
  • Azure Marketplace is an online store featuring thousands of certified and open source applications, developer service and data.