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Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen announce their cloud partnership on stage at Microsoft Ignite in Atlanta. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota)

This week’s announcement that Adobe is embracing Microsoft’s Azure as its “preferred cloud platform” shows Adobe is spreading its computing load across multiple private and public clouds — a wise course of action, in the view of some who advise companies on cloud migration.

In a move that Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella called “a massive, massive milestone” in the companies’ relationship, Adobe said it will use Azure for all three internet-accessed pillars of its business: Marketing Cloud, Creative Cloud and Document Cloud.

But this doesn’t mark a wholesale shift of Adobe’s cloud business to Microsoft. At the moment, Adobe uses mainly Amazon Web Services, though it also has its own cloud, said IDC analyst Melissa Webster in an email. Now it’s adding Azure.

Certainly Adobe plans to go deep with Azure, Webster said. “It’s leveraging algorithmic layers and collaborating with Microsoft around standardized data models for customer and experience data. Adobe sees Azure as a cloud platform that addresses regulatory compliance in diverse geographies and that offers deep machine-learning capabilities that can help it accelerate its roadmap. This isn’t just about choosing a compute/storage infrastructure as a service. It’s also about Cortana,” Microsoft’s speech-recognition technology, she said.

Still, Azure will remain only a part of Adobe’s computing plan, Webster said.

“Adobe isn’t looking at Azure as a replacement for what it has now. Rather, it sees a multi-cloud environment in the future.” For example, Adobe Analytics will be made to run in a distributed cloud that spans both Azure and Adobe’s existing cloud infrastructure, she said.

Adobe and Amazon declined to comment on the nature and extent of their current relationship. But in a 2013 AWS video, an Adobe executive praises Amazon as a valued computing partner. “AWS does a great job of providing the infrastructure we need,” says Mitch Nelson, director of Adobe’s managed-services department, in the video. “Adobe’s relationship with AWS is very important to us today, and I think it will grow more critical as we move into the future.”

Adobe has used AWS for three products: Lifecycle Forms, Connect Web and Meeting and CQ Web Experience Management, Nelson says in the video. “We use everything from the various sizes of Elastic Compute Cloud instances, running both Red Hat and Windows,” he says. “We make extensive use of the Elastic Block Store systems and are expanding that into multi-terabyte-per-customer infrastructures. We’re also experimenting with other Amazon products.”

Eric Schubert, a senior cloud solutions architect with cloud service CenturyLink, said distributing computing among multiple clouds makes good business sense.

“A few years ago, the rush was to move everything into the cloud,” Schubert said at an IC3 conference in Seattle this morning. “Now people are moving more carefully. They’re moving some things to one cloud, other things to another — even distributing parts of a single app among different different clouds, or among different clouds and on-premises.”

Using multiple clouds lets data reside where it’s felt to be safest, cuts latency, rewards careful cost comparisons and helps avoid lock-in, he added.

Here’s the Adobe announcement from Microsoft Ignite.

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