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Azure

overview
Service Type:
Infrastructure & Platform Services
Phase:
Early Adopter
Eligible Subscribers:
Internet2 Member or Other R&E Participant
Sponsors:
University of Washington
Email:
netplus@internet2.edu
Contact:
Sean O'Brien

Unlimited Possibilities

Azure is an open and flexible cloud platform that enables you to quickly build, deploy and manage applications across a global network of Microsoft-managed datacenters. You can build applications using any language, tool or framework. And you can integrate your public cloud applications with your existing IT environment.

Internet2 NET+ Azure Offering

The Internet2 NET+ Azure service is a focused effort between Microsoft and Internet2 to support the use of cloud infrastructure for academic research and instruction. Azure Services meet many compliance higher education compliance needs (e.g. FERPA, HIPPA - see http://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/support/trust-center/compliance/).

As a specialized offering, it is based on an IRU (irrevocable right of use) model, facilitating the acquisition of Azure Services as capital assets and thereby facilitating the use of grant funding towards the purchase of cloud services and potentially avoiding indirect charges for overhead. It is expected that Qualified Institutions should make their own determination as to whether orders under the Internet2 NET+ Azure offering may be treated in this manner. In addition to special Azure pricing for qualified institutions, the offering includes other benefits associated with the use of Azure when acquired as an operational expense.

An essential part of the agreement between Internet2 and Microsoft is the opportunity for the Internet2 community to leverage the aggregate use of Azure through this agreement to achieve additional discounted pricing as more institutions subscribe.

Specialized Offering for the Internet2 Community

Working with members of the community, Internet2 and Microsoft have concluded that there is an opportunity to provide value-added solutions and services based on the Azure platform in support of research and instruction. The Internet2 NET+ Azure Offering is based on an IRU (irrevocable right of use) model, facilitating the acquisition of Azure compute and storage as capital assets. In addition it offers special pricing and other benefits to Azure acquired as an operational expense. The Internet2 NET+ Azure service will also enable the Internet2 community to achieve additional discounted pricing as more institutions subscribe.

The goals for the program include:

  • An offering to qualified academic institutions that provides agreed upon licensing terms and conditions as well as a competitive pricing model (per individual institutions existing Microsoft Campus Agreement Structure)
  • Focused effort to support academic research and academic instruction in which Azure provides a unique opportunity to advance these activities.
  • A program that is based on an IRU (irrevocable right of use) model, facilitating the acquisition of Azure Services as capital assets (note that this is in addition to Azure Services currently available through the institution’s existing EES or Campus Agreement).
  • Enable the aggregation of spend on Azure Services in a manner that allows Internet2 to negotiate pricing and offerings on behalf of the community
  • Enable the Internet2 community to leverage network effects as their collective spend on Azure Services (through this and other purchases of Azure) is aggregated, providing enhanced purchasing power to realize higher discount tiers.
  • Azure Services that support the compliance obligations of schools and universities (e.g. FERPA, HIPAA – see http://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/support/trust-center/compliance/)
  • Review the partnership on an annual basis to determine improvement areas and evaluate potential future expansion (e.g., Big Data, Genomics, so-called “long tail of science”, Office365, high performance cloud computing, collaboration technologies).

Services covered:

Please visit Azure Web Site for a description of currently available services. Note that Azure includes support for both Windows and Linux.

There are currently five alternatives available for the purchase of Azure services:

  1. On-demand offering (using campus agreement)
  2. 6-month reserved purchase (using campus agreement)
  3. 5-year “flexible spend” (Internet2 NET+ Azure Option 1): Enrollment is for a commitment to a spend level that allows discounted rate purchases of all Azure Platform services. Under the Flexible Spending option, all compute and storage purchases will be at the 5-year commitment discounted pricing level. This option allow institutions or individuals to combine the capital purchase/lease of compute and storage with the purchase of other Azure services.
  4. 5-year “capital lease” (Internet2 NET+ Azure Option 2): Initial enrollment covers all Azure usage over a 5yr term. No rollover of allocated resources in any one year into the next year.
  5. 5-year “capital purchase” (Internet2 NET+ Azure Option 3): Each commitment establishes a new enrollment with an individual 5yr term. No rollover of allocated resources in any one year into the next year.

Note that any usage outside of the committed Compute & Storage capacity will generate new charges that will not be covered under capital expenditure (IRU) rules (i.e., “burst” to On-Demand cloud, at EDU pricing). If increased needs are anticipated, there will be an option to add additional capital lease or purchase options.

features

Always up. Always on.
Azure delivers a 99.95% monthly SLA and enables you to build and run highly available applications without focusing on the infrastructure. It provides automatic OS and service patching, built in network load balancing and resiliency to hardware failure. It supports a deployment model that enables you to upgrade your application without downtime.

Open Standards
Azure enables you to use any language, framework, or tool to build applications. Features and services are exposed using open REST protocols. The Windows Azure client libraries are available for multiple programming languages, and are released under an open source license and hosted on GitHub.

Unlimited Servers and Storage.
Azure enables you to easily scale your applications to any size. It is a fully automated self-service platform that allows you to provision resources within minutes. Elastically grow or shrink your resource usage based on your needs. You only pay for the resources your application uses. Azure is available in multiple datacenters around the world, enabling you to deploy your applications close to your customers.

Powerful Capabilities
Azure delivers a flexible cloud platform that can satisfy any application need. It enables you to reliably host and scale out your application code within compute roles. You can store data using relational SQL databases, NoSQL table stores, and unstructured blob stores, and optionally use Hadoop and business intelligence services to data-mine it. You can take advantage of Azure’s robust messaging capabilities to enable scalable distributed applications, as well as deliver hybrid solutions that run across a cloud and on-premises enterprise environment. Azure’s distributed caching and CDN services allow you to reduce latency and deliver great application performance anywhere in the world.

Cloud Integrated Storage

Cloud-integrated Storage from StorSimple consolidates primary storage, archive, backup, and disaster recovery (DR) through seamless integration with the cloud. By combining StorSimple software and a custom-designed enterprise-grade hardware platform, StorSimple solutions provide high performance for primary storage and enable revolutionary speed, simplicity and reliability for backup and recovery while reducing enterprise storage TCO by 60-80%.

Image comparing differences between examples of Storage Today and Cloud Storage + StorSimple

Enterprise SAN with Cloud Archive, Backup and Recovery

Certified by Microsoft and VMware, StorSimple solutions leverage the cloud to address storage managers’ biggest challenges around infrastructure complexity, cost management and timely data recovery.

StorSimple solutions use cloud storage as an automated storage tier, offloading capacity management burdens and ongoing capital costs. Using local and cloud snapshots, application-consistent backups complete in a fraction of the time needed by traditional backup systems while reducing the amount of data transferred and stored in the cloud.

Cloud-based and location-independent disaster recovery (DR) allows customers to recover their data from virtually any location with an Internet connection, and test their DR plans without impacting production systems and applications. Thin restore from data in the cloud enables users to resume operations after a disaster much faster than possible with physical or cloud-based tape.

Key Features and Benefits

StorSimple solutions seamlessly integrate advanced SAN technologies such as SSDs, SAS, automated storage tiering, deduplication, compression and encryption with cloud storage to significantly reduce the storage footprint and lower both CapEx and OpEx costs.

Infrastructure consolidation

StorSimple solutions consolidate primary storage, archival, backup and disaster recovery through seamless integration with the cloud.

Simpler, faster backup & recovery

StorSimple cloud-based snapshots enable revolutionary speed, simplicity & reliability for backup and recovery. Users can achieve up to 100x faster data recovery vs. traditional backup methods used in the cloud.

Secure data storage

StorSimple applies AES-256 military-grade encryption for all data transferred and stored in the cloud using a private key that is known only to customers.

Lower overall storage costs

By integrating the cloud with local enterprise storage, StorSimple reduces total storage costs (TCO) by 60-80%.

Special NET+ Benefits

  • Special terms and conditions for IP, ITAR, FERPA, etc. needs
  • Campuses can get a HIPAA BAA with Microsoft
  • Online community of practice
 
fees

Azure Pricing


Final pricing for Azure services must be obtained through the Microsoft Licensing Solution Provider (LSP). Current "estimated retail pricing" (typically higher than what is provided through the LSP) may be estimated by using the Azure Pricing Calculator or by following the steps identified below under How to Participate.

Some considerations:

  • Compute pricing has been offered with future costs already taken into consideration, pricing would be fixed for the full 5yr term.
  • Compute cores will be available on a committed basis in such a way that they would qualify for CapEx treatment.
  • Storage pricing would be subject to future industry price corrections that could potentially deliver additional cost savings to Internet2 members.
  • Locally Redundant Blob Storage delivers 3 redundant copies within a single data center.
  • Geo Redundant Blob Storage delivers 3 redundant copies within a single data center as well as an additional 3 copies to another data center within the same region
  • Annually, at the anniversary date of the original order, members will have the option to elect to continue of discontinue their subscription. The minimum time commitment is 3 years. The 5 year timeframe was recommended for research community, so that purchases would be classified as a capital expenditure.

NET+ Access Fee

Based on extensive community experience and input developing infrastructure and platform programs through the NET+ initiative, as well as the desire for aggregation discounts at scale to accrue to the service users on campus, program costs need to be covered by participating campuses at the enterprise level. New access fees for NET+ Infrastructure and Platform Services Program have been implemented to balance the need for community cost recovery and program financial sustainability and to maximize the benefits of infrastructure and platform services to campus users. See full details of the NET+ Infrastructure and Platform access fees.

participate

General Guidelines

Internet2 member institutions and qualified academic institutions will subscribe to Azure services through Microsoft’s Enrollment for Education Solutions licensing agreements. As most institutions are aware, all purchase of Microsoft products and services must go through an identified LSP. Internet2 has negotiated with several LSP’s (Bell Technogix, CDW-G, En Pointe, Insight, SHI) to the offering. If a qualified academic institution indicates a preference for a different LSP, Internet2 will negotiate terms with any LSP that is indicated by an institution as their reseller. The Internet2 NET+ Azure offering is intended to support all research and educational institutions in the U.S. – inclusive of Internet2 members or schools that are connected through the REN/Connectors (SEGP participants and others). 

Under Capital Lease/Purchase Options, purchases of services (enrollments) are at the institutional level (not individual PIs). Institutional IT will have the ability to manage the allocation of acquired resources to individual PIs or other appropriate uses through a management portal (supported through Azure) and can re-assign enrollments as needed within the institution. Any financial transactions between Institutional IT and individual researchers can be managed through existing institutional processes.

To subscribe to NET+ Azure

Note: The NET+ Azure program is available to organizations using a participating LSP. Please see the FAQ tab for more information.

  1. Review the service offering and fees on the tabs above. If you have any questions, please contact us at netplus@internet2.edu.
  2. Click HERE and complete the NET+ Azure application.
  3. Review the  Infrastructure and Platform Services Participation Agreement. It will be sent to the identified application submitter after the request is received.   Also, the Participation Schedule for the identified Microsoft LSP will be sent as well to complete the adoption of the service. 

    Note: Internet2 requires electronic signatures for legal contracts, unless state law mandates otherwise.
  4. Sign up for Azure with Internet2 and your Microsoft LSP. NET+ Azure participants will sign the Participation Agreement and NET+ Azure Participation Schedule with Internet2.  Once signed up with Internet2 and as appropriate, your LSP will then provide you with the community-negotiated data egress waiver and contract terms.
FAQ

What is the relationship between Microsoft and Internet2?

Microsoft and Internet2 have embarked on a strategic effort to work with the research and education community to identify specific challenges associated with the use of cloud services in support of teaching, learning, scientific research, scholarship, and the curation and preservation of research data and research outcomes. This broadly described and continuing engagement provides a context for the R&E community to work with Microsoft to both develop new services and/or identify previously untapped capabilities of existing Microsoft cloud offerings – with an eye towards bring to the R&E community enhanced value-added services, a more streamlined and easily accessed offerings that meet the unique and diverse needs of researchers and educators.

Discussions to date have identified an initial set of modifications and enhancements to the Azure services catalog that include the deployment of InCommon, elimination of data egress charges and the treatment of Azure compute and storage as capital assets.

We have reached an agreement that would enable member universities to take advantage of Azure for research and instructional purposes and pave the way for enhanced collaborative opportunities in the cloud. The agreement is a significant step in making cloud computing more accessible and affordable for all researchers and scholars, and is a key step towards supporting the National Science Foundation’s Data Sharing Policy and Data Management Plan Requirements for the greater research community.

Working with participating institutions, Microsoft and Internet2 have developed a standard Windows Azure amendment for the use of Azure under specialized pricing and terms (including treatment of FERPA, HIPAA and export control).

What is the Azure offering through Internet2 NET+ Services?

Initial feedback from the large-data workshops identified data egress/ingress charges; use of InCommon/Shibboleth authentication and the ability to treat Azure services as a capital expenditure as key, immediate challenges. After much discussion and negotiation, Microsoft has agreed to allow Internet2 to act as a broker for the community and negotiate on its behalf, including the ability to represent the aggregate of R&E spend on Azure in negotiating terms and pricing.

Under this agreement with Internet2 NET+ Services, Microsoft’s Azure will waive both data egress and data ingress charges for Internet2 university members through their institution’s existing Enrollment for Education Solutions (EES) licensing agreement with Microsoft.

As part of the agreement, Microsoft will commit resources to work with Internet2 in evaluating InCommon’s Shibboleth authentication for Azure with the Windows Identity Foundation preview for SAML 2.0 support and collaborate with Internet2 to support adoption of the InCommon federated identify framework widely deployed across higher education for Azure. The Shibboleth/SAML2.0 architecture and implementation for identity management allows for cross-domain single sign-on, which facilitates collaborative research across institutions, and simplifies maintenance of user names and passwords.

Microsoft has also agreed to offer Azure as an IRU under three alternative 5-year commitment models that provide for flexibility in use as well as allowing for the treatment of expenditures on cloud infrastructure as a capital asset (it is expected that schools should make their own determination whether orders under the Internet2 NET+ Azure offering may be treated as acquisitions of capital assets). In simple terms, the Azure IRU purchase is intended to be a substitute for the purchase of hardware (compute and storage) that would have otherwise been managed on-premise by either institutional IT, an academic department, a research group or a faculty member.

Why are larger purchase units encouraged?

As CAPEX, every purchase is for a specific set of Azure assets (compute/storage) that need to be tracked over a 5yr life, encapsulated within a unique (physical) contract that must be reviewed, signed and executed.

Each contract (“Enrollment”) includes a dedicated management dashboard. The dashboard enables Administrators, Users and Organizations to actively manage users and the service subscriptions that will control the Azure assets over their Enrollment period (5yrs). The more Enrollments that are set up, the more unique Azure asset management dashboards there are. A single Enrollment may be accessed by multiple researchers and assigned to separate accounts or subscriptions.

If the minimum purchase bar for an individual enrollment is set too low, we could end up with a very large volume of Enrollments that are difficult for Microsoft and the individual universities to manage. Note that through the management dashboard, the resources within a single Enrollment can be subdivided, and allocated (“dedicated”) to individual researchers. It will be up to the institution to manage how the capital expense is passed along to individual researchers.

How will this offering support researchers?

Through this arrangement, principal investigators involved in large data initiatives such as Genomics, Big Data or Long Tail of Science projects can save on bandwidth charges when moving or accessing data sets and shift apply those resources toward their direct research related activities.

How do I sign up for this Azure Egress Fee Waiver offer?

To obtain the waiver, Internet2 members may sign up for the NET+ Azure program with a participating LSP.

Will the offering include compute and storage on-demand?

Yes. All Azure services will be available.

Will the Azure services be available through the Internet2 Network?

Yes. All Azure services will be accessible through the university’s existing connection to the Internet2 Network. See the description of the NET+ Azure Offering.

Which institutions can take advantage of the Internet2 NET+ Azure offering and the waiver for egress fees on Azure?

The waiver for data egress fees is intended for use in supporting the research and education activities of the higher education community. To obtain the waiver, institutions are jointly “qualified” as eligible by Internet2 and Microsoft. Instructions are listed above.

The Internet2 NET+ Azure offering is intended to support all research and educational institutions in the U.S. – inclusive of Internet2 members or schools that are connected through the REN/Connectors (SEGP participants and others). To participate, institutions are jointly qualified as eligible by Internet2 and Microsoft.

Which LSP’s currently participate in the NET+ Azure Program?

NET+ Azure may be purchased through SHI, Bell Techlogix, CDW-G, Insight, and En Pointe. Internet2 is in discussions with additional LSP’s and would like to have all LSP’s participating in the program. If your LSP is not listed you may contact netplus@internet2.edu with questions.

Features and Security

For questions regarding features and security, please see the Features tab.

Cost and Terms

For questions regarding cost, terms of agreement and billing, please see the Fees tab.

More Information

Thank you for your interest in Internet2 NET+ Azure. Please check NET+ Azure service home for updates as they become available. Check the Internet2 NET+ Initiative site for news and updates on all Internet2 NET+ service offerings. Have a question not answered here? Send an email to netplus@internet2.edu.