Developing AI-enhanced apps of the future with Microsoft’s adaptive cloud approach

Developing AI-enhanced apps of the future with Microsoft’s adaptive cloud approach

As our annual Build conference is about to kick off this week, I’m thrilled to share several product announcements to empower developers to take advantage of Azure’s adaptive cloud approach: Edge Storage Accelerator public preview, Azure Monitor pipeline public preview, Secrets Sync Controller private preview, Jumpstart Agora for Manufacturing general availability, Jumpstart Drops public preview, Visual Studio Code Extension public preview.


There has never been a more exciting time to be an application developer. With cloud native practices and hyperscale cloud services increasingly available at the edge, developers can access data, build for environments and extend to use cases previously unavailable to them. At the same time AI advances are driving efficiency into the application development process and enabling the creation of innovative industry solutions.


However, to take advantage of this progress, developers and adjacent teams need to manage the challenges stemming from legacy systems, heterogeneous environments, fragmented data and lack of standardization. The need for a unified platform and system to achieve this potential and overcome these obstacles becomes increasingly evident. We believe Azure is the platform that can help, and we have been investing in Azure Arc to solve these problems. We see an opportunity to do more by bringing together agility and intelligence so that our customers can proactively adapt to change. This is what we refer to as our adaptive cloud approach.


This approach has enabled customers like US-based DICK’S Sporting Goods to re-imagine its customer experience and implement a “one store” strategy where they can write, deploy, manage and monitor software across all 800+ locations nationwide. Similarly, Coles, an Australian supermarket retailer, has embraced AI-driven solutions for inventory management, personalized shopping experiences, loss prevention and more. 


“Win-win solutions are those where we are helping our team members and our customers at the same time. Our technological investments into operational efficiency have translated into real, tangible benefits for our shoppers.”

- Silvio Giorgio, GM of Data & Intelligence at Coles Group


The AI-infused developer opportunity


One of the key principles of our Adaptive cloud approach is Kubernetes everywhere, providing the same scalability and agility developers expect with their cloud solutions, when they build for the edge. Azure Arc, our solution for consistent multi-cloud and on-premises management, works with any CNCF-certified Kubernetes clusters including our first-party Azure Kubernetes Service to enable applications developers to build and run software seamlessly across the cloud and edge. As a result, developers can focus on the application itself instead of worrying about where and how it is going to run across their company’s physical footprint.


The starting point for developers to begin building distributed applications is the same toolset they currently use now, powered by recent releases and improvements. GitHub Actions gives developers the ability to automate, customize, and execute their software development workflows in their GitHub repository. GitHub Copilot will further speed their development of edge solutions with coding suggestions, help solving problems and more.


These tools, combined with Flux and Azure Container Registry, complete the GitOps workflow for consistent and efficient application rollouts across cloud to edge environments.


Distributing software updates via GitOps




DevOps and beyond


There is, however, a lot more to building and scaling applications across boundaries than Arc-enabled Kubernetes and GitOps workflows can deliver alone. DevOps teams need to create pipelines for deployment, testing, and monitoring applications. They want to manage network connectivity, automate application security, deploy and manage infrastructure as code (IaC) components and maintain the overall container orchestration layer.


To support these requirements, we are building a robust set of foundational services that will be available natively and fully supported by via Azure Arc. Once you integrate Azure Arc, these services will be available on the clusters for applications to take dependencies on and use. In terms of these foundational services, we have recently announced the release of Edge Storage Accelerator, and Secrets Sync Controller (details below), with other announcements coming soon.


Foundational Services




Solution orchestration for the edge


The environments that edge applications operate in are heterogeneous and diverse, causing challenges like not having a single programming interface (API), for developers and engineers that are trying to stitch together a larger solution (a factory solution, a software defined vehicle, etc.). To help solve this Microsoft is investing in the Eclipse Foundation Symphony project. Symphony is a platform-independent “orchestrator for orchestrator” engine, allowing solution providers to declare a single deployment manifest for various endpoint deployments. Symphony then ingests the deployment manifest, orchestrates the various orchestration platforms, such as Kubernetes, Linux Shell, Windows and returns feedback whether the deployment was successful. We welcome ecosystem contributions to this project.


Getting the most out of the Adaptive Cloud Ecosystem


While many of our customers decide to develop edge applications themselves, many if not all also purchase solutions from third parties. The specific types of applications differ by industry but there are two key partner types that play a major role in customer edge solutions.


Independent Software Vendors (ISVs)

ISVs play a critical role in providing 3rd-party edge solutions for customers. To ensure that an ISV’s solution can run on Arc-enabled Kubernetes we have created the Azure Arc ISV partner program, a technical validation of the partner’s solution on the platform. Isovalent, Hashicorp and Intel are examples of partners that have completed the program.  


ISVs can also publish their containerized applications on the Azure Marketplace as a Kubernetes app for deployment on Arc enabled Kubernetes clusters. Kubernetes apps provide flexible billing options to enable ISVs to charge customers through the Azure Marketplace.


System Integration (SI) partners

For custom solution development or simply help with deployment of an application developed in-house, customers typically employ an SI. We work with an active ecosystem of SIs that are versed in modern application development, deployment and management practices. Partners like Avanade and Maibornwolff are good examples of SIs making an impact for customers with Kubernetes-based application development and deployment at the edge.


“For us, the easy deployment and monitoring of ML models from Azure ML in Kubernetes clusters at the edge is THE game-changing feature of Azure Arc - alongside the ability to use Azure IoT Operations. Both capabilities are essential when we build hybrid cloud smart factory platforms based on Azure technologies.”

- Marc Jäckle, Technical Head of IoT at MaibornWolff


"Azure Arc has enabled us to bring Cloud native services to the Edge of our client's Industrial solutions without increasing the complexity and effort to manage this fleet of devices that are used to control the shop floor in digital operations scenarios. Having a Standards based execution environment like Kubernetes available to run custom workloads at the Edge or in the Cloud is a big benefit for our customers. Azure and especially Azure Arc fully support these deployments."

-Juergen Mayrbaeurl, Senior Director at Avanade




Ways to help build resilient, observable and secure applications at the edge


  • Edge Storage Accelerator public preview – At the edge, Kubernetes storage capabilities vary in durability, persistence, and performance, posing a challenge for customers seeking reliable solutions. To address these challenges, we recently introduced Edge Storage Accelerator (ESA), a storage system designed for Arc-connected Kubernetes clusters. ESA offers fault-tolerant, highly available cloud-native persistent storage, empowering customers to confidently host stateful applications, custom apps, and other Arc extensions with ease and reliability. Through standard Kubernetes APIs, users can effortlessly attach containerized applications managing file data stored on Azure Blob storage, leveraging its limitless cloud storage capacity for edge applications. ESA’s flexible deployment options, simplified connection via a Container Storage Interface (CSI) driver, and platform neutrality transforms edge storage solutions, alleviating customer pain points and enabling seamless operations at the edge.


  • Azure Monitor pipeline public preview – As enterprises scale their infrastructure and applications, the volume of observability data naturally increases, and it is challenging to collect telemetry from certain restricted environments. We are extending our Azure Monitor pipeline at the edge to enable customers to collect telemetry at scale from their edge environment and route to Azure Monitor for observability. With Azure Monitor pipeline at edge, customers can collect telemetry from the resources in segmented networks that do not have a line of sight to cloud. Additionally, the pipeline prevents data loss by caching the telemetry locally during intermittent connectivity periods and backfilling to the cloud, improving reliability and resiliency.

  • Secret Sync Controller private preview – Customers want the confidence and scalability that comes with unified secrets management in the cloud, while maintaining disconnection-resilience for operational activities at the edge. To help them with this, the new Secret Synchronization Controller for Kubernetes automatically synchronizes secrets from an Azure Key Vault to a Kubernetes cluster for offline access. This means customers can use Azure Key Vault to store, maintain, and rotate secrets, even when running a Kubernetes cluster in a semi-disconnected state. Synchronized secrets are stored in the cluster secret store, making them available as Kubernetes secrets to be used in all the usual ways—mounted as data volumes or exposed as environment variables to a container in a pod. 

Exciting ways to engage and get started with Jumpstart and VSCode


  • Jumpstart Agora for Manufacturing general availability – Customers want interactive test environments that cover real industry scenarios to learn more about what Azure Arc and other Azure technologies can help them accomplish for their business. Jumpstart Agora for Manufacturing is a set of comprehensive cloud-to-edge scenarios brought to life through the story of Contoso Motors and its solutions for digital innovation and employee safety. Users will learn how to deploy and interact with the technology behind Contoso Motor’s quality optimization, AI hazard detection, defect detection and IT/OT observability and control solutions.  https://aka.ms/JumpstartAgoraMotorsBlog

  • Jumpstart Drops public preview – Azure Arc Jumpstart contributors want a unified, accessible and shareable repository for scripts, sample apps, libraries, dashboards, automations or comprehensive tutorials useful in the testing and deployment of Azure Arc-enabled solutions. Jumpstart Drops is a new page on the Jumpstart website that enables users to search for and use pre-built code and artifacts of all types. Users can filter their search by scenarios (Edge/Cloud), tools/languages, tags, code owner and more. Jumpstart Drops also includes a defined template for making contributions and giving back to the community. Embracing an open-source ethos, all contributions are licensed under MIT License. So, dive in, explore the collection of amazing Drops already available, and join us and the community as we share knowledge. https://aka.ms/JumpstartDropsBlog



  • Visual Studio Code extension public preview – Developers want a single pane of glass and workbench to complete the entire developer workflow for Arc-enabled applications. We released an Arc Visual Studio Code extension in public preview for Arc and AKS which has sample code to access these services, a local environment to test and debug the services and an environment in the cloud to test at a larger scale. The extension provides a one-stop shop for developers and helps accelerate development for both workloads that will run on the edge and that are going to be published on the Azure Marketplace.

VSCode Extension.jpg


Together these resources offer the perfect starting point to learn about industry-specific adaptive cloud approach solutions, find code snippets or contribute to the Jumpstart Drops repository and get started with edge application development. To learn more about these and other exciting offerings that support our adaptive cloud approach please join us in-person or virtually at Microsoft Build.


Here is a list of our sessions. You can also find us on the 5th floor of the convention center at the adaptive cloud approach and community demo stations (within the Expert Meet-Up area).

To read more about Azure’s adaptive cloud approach here are some of our latest blogs:

















































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