Microsoft introduced a "home version" of its Azure public cloud, expected to enter preview this summer. Unlike home versions of game shows, Azure Stack is the real thing: customers can run the same technology behind Microsoft's public cloud offering in their own private data center.
Azure Stack extends Azure to any data center, a move that will boost both Microsoft’s hybrid play and Azure’s adoption in general. The new public-private platform is the company's power play behind the hybrid trend.
“They [IT leaders] recognize the careful balance between moving at speed while still providing the level of stability and discipline their companies depend on them for,” wrote Mike Neil, general manager for Microsoft's Windows Server. "Hybrid cloud is an ideal solution for many organizations facing this situation, bringing together the agility of public cloud and the control of on-premises systems."
Azure Stack combines several Microsoft technologies for handling storage, compute and network in a cloud setup, and the Infrastructure-as-a-Service and Platform-as-a-Service capabilities of Azure. It controls what is provisioned into the enterprise and integrates with internal billing or chargeback systems. The same self-service application provisioning available on public Azure will now be available in an on-premise environment.
Azure Stack offers a compelling reason to use the Azure platform because it's easy to develop for Azure in-house. Service providers also stand to gain by offering Azure-based services and connecting to the public counterpart for hybrid needs.
The service is integrated with Azure Preview Portal for provisioning needs on local cloud or bursting to public cloud, and Azure Service Fabric heals and scales itself to run services in public, private, or hybrid cloud environments.
Microsoft also previewed Azure Resource Manager which allows developers to easily choose where to deploy applications: in the public Azure cloud, or to an Azure Stack data center. For example, an application can be developed and tested on-premise, then pushed out to public Azure. Custom application templates are built into Resource Manager, potentially appealing to service providers wanting to offer services based on these templates.
Microsoft also introduced the cloud-based Operations Management Suite. It makes it easier to monitor and manage applications regardless of where they are running, and can extend and integrate with other cloud infrastructures like OpenStack and AWS. The suite combines log analytics, security, automation, and application and data protection services - a culimination of Microsoft’s experience running its own cloud.
“This approach is unique in the industry and gives your developers the flexibility to create applications once and then decide where to deploy them later - all with role-based access control to meet your compliance needs,” wrote Neil.