Azure Stack will ship soon


Can’t there be a unity between having servers in the server room and a cloud? Between Microsoft’s Azure cloud and your data center? Sure there can! That’s the idea behind Microsoft’s Azure Stack.

Azure Stack is a subset of Azure. It brings the Azure cloud to on-premises environments. It’s taken longer than expected to show up, but Azure Stack-powered servers should show up by 2017’s third quarter.

This Azure cloud-in-a-box has three main use cases:

  1. Edge and disconnected solutions: Customers can address latency and connectivity requirements by processing data locally in Azure Stack and then aggregating in Azure for further analytics, with common application logic across both. There’s lots of customer interest in this edge scenario across different contexts ranging from factory floors to mine shafts or even cruise ships.
  2. Cloud applications that meet varied regulations: Clients can develop and deploy applications in Azure, and deploy them on-premises on Azure Stack to meet regulatory or policy requirements, with no code changes needed. Illustrative application examples include global audit, financial reporting, foreign exchange trading, online gaming and expense reporting. Many customers are looking to deploy different instances of the same application to Azure or Azure Stack, based on business and technical requirements. While Azure meets most requirements, Azure Stack complements the deployment approach where needed.
  3. Cloud application model on-premises: Your developers and system operators can use Azure web and mobile services, containers, serverless and microservice architectures to update and extend existing applications or build new ones. You can use consistent DevOps processes across Azure in the cloud and Azure Stack on-premises. Microsoft is seeing broad interest in application modernization, including for core mission-critical applications.

Microsoft need not talk me into it. There are many good reasons to use a hybrid cloud.

One hybrid cloud problem has been bridging the gap between private and public clouds. You can certainly do it, for example, with OpenStack. But, unless you have a lot of in-house expertise, you’ll need a partner like Canonical, Mirantis or Red Hat to pull it off.

What Microsoft brings to the table isn’t just another partner, but all-in-one boxes that come per-equipped with Azure Stack. This is perfect for businesses that just want to run clouds and not build their infrastructure.

Azure Stack comes as a virtual machine appliance built to run on specific servers. It provides users with many of Microsoft’s Azure services such as VMs, Azure Storage, App Service and Azure Functions.

Part of the idea is to give companies a “One Azure” ecosystem. With this you can speed up new cloud application development by using a range of open-source software from the Azure Marketplace. For example, you can use the Cloud Foundry Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) across both Azure and Azure Stack to build and run easily portable cloud applications.

This may sound like a small business play. Perhaps it will be someday.

But, in the beginning, the first Azure Stack configurations will come with enterprise price tags from Dell, HPE and Lenovo. For example, the HPE ProLiant for Microsoft Azure Stack hardware and support package pricing ranges from $300K-$400K, depending on the configuration. Eventually, Cisco, Huawei and others will offer Azure Stack combinations as well.

Pricey? Yes. But, for many businesses based on Azure it will be worth the money. You can see for yourself before buying using the free Azure Stack Development Kit. This enables you to run a single-server deployment of Azure Stack. Better still, any applications you build on it will run correctly when deployed to Azure Stack production system.

Give it a try. I think you’ll like it.


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