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Microsoft's AI Driven Azure Data Box Ups the Ante in Cloud

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Microsoft (MSFT - Free Report) announced various updates regarding Azure Data Box at its annual Ignite, 2018 conference at Orlando, FL. Notably, the conference is scheduled from Sep 24 to Sep 28.

The tech giant announced the availability of Azure Data Box, a preview of which it had announced at Ignite, 2017. The device facilitates up to 100 terabyte (TB) of customer’s offline data transfer to Azure’s Data Center in a secured manner. It is designed to be tamper-resistant and weighs around 50 pounds.

The other notable Azure takeaways from the event are previews of Azure Data Box Edge and Azure Data Box Heavy. Azure Data Box Edge device is powered with robust artificial intelligence (AI) driven edge computing technology. It enables the customer to analyze and accordingly restructure the on-premise data, which then gets transferred to the cloud.

The new Edge device is a prominent addition to the existing Azure Data Box family, as it provides the tech giant a competitive edge against its cloud computing peers, including the likes of Amazon (AMZN - Free Report) and Alphabet’s (GOOGL - Free Report) Google.

Meanwhile, Azure Data Box Heavy as the name suggests is an improvement over Azure Data Box in terms of storage. The device is enabled to support a whopping 1 petabyte (PB) of storage enabling easy transport of customer data to Azure’sdata center.

Strengthening Azure Data Box family primarily with robust AI, analytics, edge computing and Internet of Things (IoT) capabilities is aimed at providing Azure clientele with custom solutions. We believe it will benefit the company’s cloud customers immensely in this data-driven era.

Upping the Ante Against AWS & Google Cloud

Notably, the leading cloud platform, Amazon Web Services (“AWS”) has a similar hardware named Snowball and Snowmobile truck which enables data transfer into the cloud. AWS had introduced the device as early as 2015.

Further, Google Cloud has a data transfer appliance featuring in-house built chips.

Microsoft with the new enhancements to its Azure Data Box family attempts to up the ante against AWS and thwart smaller cloud players.

In this regard, thein-builtfield-programmable gate array (FPGAs) processors in Azure Data Box Edge device will enable Azure’s clients to add processors as required.

It is a cost-effective and time-saving device in the sense that the customers can save bandwidth expense by shipping only the selected data that requires processing.

The new Edge device has already been adopted by the semiconductor company, Cree (CREE - Free Report) .

Share Price Performance

Shares of Microsoft have returned 33.8% year to date, substantially outperforming the industry’s rally of 29.4%.

This outperformance can primarily be attributed to its rapidly expanding efforts in AI and IoT based developments.

Focus on Azure: A Key Catalyst

Microsoft’s undisturbed focus on Azure continues to remain a key catalyst. In fact, in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2018, Azure revenues soared 85% at constant currency (cc) on a year-over-year basis. Data center expansion continues with Azure now in 54 regions globally.

The newly added capabilities are expected to bolster adoption of Azure, consequently driving Microsoft’s top-line growth.

According to latest data from Synergy Research, Azure trails only Amazon Web Services in the cloud infrastructure services market. Moreover, the article states that spending on cloud infrastructure services in the second quarter of calendar 2018 witnessed a year-over-year increase of 50%.

The aforementioned report reinforces the company’s prospects of growth by strengthening Azure with AI, cloud computing edge and other capabilities.

Other Additions to Data Box family

At the event, Microsoft also announced preview of Data Box Gateway, a virtual device. The appliance is supported by VMWare and Hyper-V. It allows customers to devise a data transfer gateway facilitating data import in Azure.

To Conclude

We believe Microsoft is strengthening almost all its services with advanced AI and machine learning tools. A glimpse of the announcements made by the company at its Ignite conference is expected to boost investors’ confidence, going forward.

Zacks Rank

Microsoft carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

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