With its newly unveiled OMS (Operations Management Suite), Microsoft is providing platform-agnostic oversight for both local and public-cloud infrastructure.
In addition, OMS seems like a key vehicle for allowing enterprises to move in-house infrastructure to the cloud without breaking too much of a sweat. With any luck, they'll move to Microsoft's cloud -- but Microsoft is fine with it even if they don't.
Looking in from above
OMS addresses the workloads Microsoft is seeing its customers running both in the cloud and in their own data centers. It provides monitoring and alerting tools to accept warnings from a wide gamut of sources across Windows and Linux workloads and pipe them to an equally broad number of services like PagerDuty or ServiceNow. Not only cross-platform, the monitoring provides details about the behavior of containers on all supported platforms, both at a moment in time and in aggregate.
OMS also has an automation layer for all the infrastructure it governs. PowerShell commands can be used to manage workflows, set up scheduled tasks, and perform other management tasks either in-cloud or on-prem.
Some features, monitoring and alerting in particular, overlap with existing functionality in Microsoft System Center. But OMS stands apart because it can govern workloads and systems wherever they are, and it can aggregate and manage all that via the cloud.
OMS's backup and disaster recovery position it as yet another key part of Microsoft's ongoing hybrid strategy.
OMS can use Azure to both perform cloud-based backups and create failover instances in the cloud for the systems it manages. What could have been merely a convenient way to provide continuity of business now allows businesses to explore setting up a hybrid infrastructure as a natural extension of what they already do.
"Since we already had the Azure infrastructure worldwide," said Jeremy Winter, director of cloud management and engineering team lead for OMS at Microsoft, "we could leverage Azure so that we could pass on the savings and simplicity of what we've got with the cloud."
That hybrid cloud is also shaping up to be an area where Microsoft's infrastructure is desired, but not necessarily a requirement. Winter mentioned that one project for OMS, currently in preview, involves pulling data emitted by AWS CloudWatch and making that available through OMS's interfaces.
In the end, OMS most represents a signal to Microsoft customers that they don't have to wait for all of Azure's best bits to be pulled out of the oven before they can start building -- and managing and depending on -- a hybrid cloud. We're still waiting on the promised open source release of Azure Service Fabric, with all its attendant promise of enabling new kinds of hybrid cloud constructions. Having OMS in the near term is likely to be even more immediately useful to the crowd Microsoft's been wooing to live in its Azure-driven world.