Yes – take a look at the new Microsoft Azure Stack (just put into technical preview). Azure Stack (AS) is a new hybrid cloud platform product that allows organizations to deliver Azure services from their own datacenter, thereby helping them achieve more.

The main motivations behind the development of AS is customers have asked for Azure in their DC – plain and simple. Various motivations have driven the creation of AS.

Business requirements, If the Customer has a set of requirements that the Azure Cloud can’t support, then the hybrid cloud may be the answer. These could be items such as wanting to minimize latency, customization of application architectures, data sovereignty, etc.

Application Flexibility – Make cloud-first innovation possible everywhere . This allows you to make app deployment decisions based on business need (vs. technology constraints). Deployment is based not upon technical capabilities but rather upon business needs (On prem vs in Cloud). In other words, we don’t want to use technologies in the Cloud for the sole reason that they are not available on premises. We will talk a little more about the innovation possibilities that this opens up in another slide.

Inadequate Alternatives – Finally, customers are finding that the alternatives they currently have don’t meet their needs. For organizations that are looking for speed and innovation of cloud computing in their datacenter, Microsoft Azure Stack offers the only hybrid cloud platform that is truly consistent with a leading public cloud. Only Microsoft can bring proven innovation – including higher level PaaS services – from hyper-scale datacenters to on-premises environments to flexibly meet customers’ business requirements.

So let’s look at the three cases for the hybrid Cloud platform starting with Business and Technical considerations.

  • Latency – Latency is an issue if an app requirement that cannot be satisfied by using the public Cloud.
  • Customization – For example, an organization needing deep integration with internal applications, systems,. Or Customization for using (on-premises) a certain type of hardware that a company already uses.
  • Data sovereignty – Data cannot be allowed to leave country borders or the enterprise – e.g. EU.
  • Regulation – Local laws around how to transact business, public sector organizations, compliance and auditing needs etc. Regulations that require data to be handled on premises

The Microsoft Hybrid Cloud with Azure Stack brings the power of Azure into your DC. There are three main investment areas or benefits of the hybrid cloud platform.

  1. Azure Services in your Datacenter – initially a subset of the full azure set (compute, Networking, storage, app services, service fabric). Your IT folks can transform DC resources into Cloud services. This is a Cloud “Inspired” infrastructure – due to translation to on prem machines to Azure VMs. Have to map what’s on prem to the Azure models.
  • Transform on-premises datacenter resources into cloud services for maximum agility.
  • Run Azure infrastructure services – including Virtual Machines, Virtual Network, and Blob/Table Storage – for traditional apps like SQL Server or SharePoint.
  • Empower developers to write cloud-first apps using on-premises deployments of Azure App Service (Web Apps) and Docker-integrated containers.
  • Make developers productive with the same self-service experience as Azure.
  • IT gets to control on-premises Azure experience to best meet business requirements.
  • Hit on PaaS differentiation: – Web Apps, Docker-integrated containers

2. Unified App Development – The same API, PowerShell, ARM etc use in Azure work with Azure Stack. Write once deploy both AC and Azure. RBAC and Powershell, azure portal, Visual studio. Choice of open source app platforms, languages, and frameworks.

  • Identical APIs and application model with Azure Resource Manager
  • Role-based access control with Azure Active Directory and Azure Resource Manager
  • Unified Azure SDK
  • Native Visual Studio integration
  • Support for application platforms, languages, and frameworks, including Linux, Java, node.js, and PHP

3. One Azure Ecosystem – can get quickly productive in AS since the platform is the same on both locations.

  • Curated Azure Resource Manager templates for SharePoint, SQL, AD
  • Curated gallery images for Windows Server and Linux
  • GitHub-based gallery

This approach and solution builds bridges between all three schools of thought: developer, IT Pro, and business dev person.

  • As a developer, I would be excited about… Application developers can maximize their productivity using a ‘write once, deploy to Azure or Azure Stack’ approach. Using APIs that are identical to Microsoft Azure, they can create applications based on open source or .NET technology that can easily run on-premises or in the public cloud. They can also leverage the rich Azure ecosystem to jumpstart their Azure Stack development efforts.
  • As an IT professional, I’m going to be super happy about (moving forward in my career, pleasing my developers, etc.). IT can help transform on-premises datacenter resources into Azure-consistent IaaS and PaaS services, thereby maximizing agility and efficiency. End users can quickly provision services using the same self-service experience as Azure. IT gets to use the same automation tools as Azure to control the service delivery experience.
  • As a business, you can truly take advantage of cloud on your terms.

Stack Architecture

Let’s look at the architecture of the Azure Stack (with Level 1 as the topmost layer and Level 5 on the bottom).

Level 1 – Guest workload resources created by Azure Stack and which end-users (devs / IT Pros) use to get their work done. Each of those resources as supported by an Azure service or combo of azure services.

Level 2 – At the next layer down we get into the actual bits of Azure Stack, starting with the end user experiences. Each of these guest workload resources are supported by the both unique or common (in both AS or Azure portal) end user experience and developer tools.  It’s important to remember that this is “just Azure” and so the experiences that you’ve come to know and count on there are the same in Azure Stack. This means the same Azure Portal, same support for a variety of open source technologies and same support for development tools including integration with Visual Studio.

Level 3 – Unified Application Model from Azure Resource Manager. This means the same model of provisioning/accessing public cloud Azure is the same as provisioning/accessing AS. This piece of technology is central to how Azure and Azure Stack operate as clouds and we’ll talk more about this one.

Level 4 – The extensible service framework is mapped into three services

  • Core Services – Common services across all resource types (RBAC, subscriptions, Gallery, usage, metrics, etc.) these services are a core part of AS. (Ex. Azure Portal)

 

  • Additional Services – The Azure model is extensible that you can add to AS and customize the AS in your DC. (Ex Web apps for TP1 can be installed to AS if you want). Also in future could be API Apps, Mobile Apps, and Logic Apps.

 

  • Foundational Services – Some services in Azure are at the root/basis for other services. This is the main part of what Azure Stack is – this set of foundational services (i.e. VM, Containers, Blob, Queues, and Table storage, and Premium Storage, Networking (with LB and gateway), Platform services) that provide resources to customers as well as serve as the basis for other services.

Level 5 – This is all supported by the Cloud Infrastructure that runs on Windows Server technology on the physical hardware (Infra. Mgmt., Compute, storage, networking)

Azure Stack came out the end of  January for Public Preview 1. GA is planned for Q4 CY 16.

 

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