Azure Stack: The bridge between private and public clouds

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Azure Stack, Microsoft’s private cloud appliance, has been out for a year now. Microsoft isn’t saying how sales have been going, but the promise of Azure Stack has always been strong.

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 data in the Azure cloud for further analytics, with common application logic across both platforms.
  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.
  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.

In short, you can mix and match Azure services from your own servers to Microsoft’s Azure cloud. This is an easy-way to make good on the promises of the hybrid cloud.

You probably knew all of that. What you may not know is that Azure Stack has been constantly improved since its launch.

Wes Miller, Directions on Microsoft‘s Microsoft cloud analyst, told me: “Azure Stack is receiving regular updates, both the software and hardware capabilities are increasing pretty regularly. As such, it’ll keep expanding to fit into new roles. Most notably, since it can now scale to 16 nodes (vs. the original 4), it’s likely to meet the needs of a larger number of partners (vs. organizations purchasing Azure Stack and deploying on-premises).”

Miller continued: “In terms of complexities, success with Azure Stack means that customers/partners are already familiar with Azure’s concepts and architecture – and just as importantly, know what services Azure Stack does support, does not support, and is not likely to ever support.”

What you see though is what you get with Azure Stack. “Sometimes people think Azure Stack will grow to become an on-premises mirror of Azure,” said Miller. “That’s not likely to happen; instead, it will expand through updates to the software (and to some degree the hardware) to support the needs of on-premises customers and partners. Customers familiar with Azure concepts, and looking to take advantage of that knowledge, but have an on-premises deployment [to] meet different security, compliance, or performance needs, are still the ones most likely to acquire and benefit from Azure Stack.”

Judson Altoff, Executive Vice President of Microsoft’s Worldwide Commercial Business, also recently revealed that Cosmos DB, Microsoft’s “planet-scale” NoSQL database “will eventually be able to run in every Azure Stack and [any incarnation of] Azure Sphere.”

Atloff also said, “We’re super-pleased with Azure Stack right now. We’re taking orders at the threshold of our ability to deliver at this point.”

So, if you’ve been hesitant to buy into Azure Stack for fear Microsoft wasn’t going to invest in it, relax. With constant improvements, new features, and Microsoft assuring us that sales are good, Azure Stack is the perfect piece for your Azure hybrid-cloud puzzle.

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