Microsoft has announced a technical preview of Microsoft Azure Stack, a hybrid cloud platform to help organizations deliver Azure services from their own data center.
Azure Stack will provide IaaS and higher-level PaaS services for customers, from hyper-scale data centers to on-premises enterprise-scale environments.
“Microsoft believes enterprises have to approach cloud as a model – not a place,” said Mike Neil, Microsoft’s corporate vice president for Enterprise Cloud, in a blog post.
“This model cuts across infrastructure, applications and people, and requires a hybrid cloud approach that provides consistency across private, hosted, and public clouds.”
Azure Stack, then, aims to provide a consistent cloud platform that spans hybrid environments.
Azure and Azure Stack have a standardized architecture, he explains, including the same portal, a unified application model, and common DevOps tools. Its application model is based on Azure Resource Manager, which allows developers to take a standard declarative approach to applications, whether they run on Azure or Azure Stack. Developers can use the same DevOps tools they use in Azure, including Visual Studio, PowerShell and others.
Microsoft says this standard hybrid cloud platform means:
- Application developers can use a ‘write once, deploy to Azure or Azure Stack’ approach. Using APIs that are identical to Microsoft Azure, they can build open source or .NET applications that can run on-premises as well as the public cloud.
- On-premises data center operators can create Azure IaaS/ PaaS services while using the same management and automation tools that Microsoft uses to operate Azure.
- Organizations can embrace hybrid cloud computing while addressing regulations, data sovereignty, customization and latency in their own way. They can decide where applications and workloads reside without being constrained by technology.
Conceptually, this straddles IaaS and PaaS and offers technologies that parallel the combination of OpenStack and CloudFoundry, according to IDC analyst Al Hilwa.
“The context for an offering like this is the fact that most midsize and large organizations are not about to decommission their data centers and so have a need to serve their internal customers with self-service and a granular set of resources and workload controls,” he said, in a statement.
“Microsoft is now tackling this area where cloud operator technology is brought to bear for internal IT and partner cloud operators. The key distinguishing characteristic is that this is semantically Azure.
“From a management API and app model perspective, it is a proper subset of the broad services available in Azure. Prior offerings aimed at this space by Microsoft and others have not typically provided enough congruence between the on-premise world and the public cloud services it maps to. Azure Stack appears to move the bar significantly in this area because for the first time, Microsoft is providing an identical application model for both scenarios. This is an important area of differentiation for the Azure cloud, which will cater to many organizations that want to offer the benefits of cloud architecture to internal users on-premise,” Hilwa said.