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InfoQ Homepage News Microsoft Releases More Azure Stack Details, Available September

Microsoft Releases More Azure Stack Details, Available September

At the recent Microsoft Inspire partner conference, Microsoft announced Azure Stack is now available for order and will ship as soon as September. Azure Stack is a private cloud implementation of Microsoft’s public Azure cloud. Unlike other private cloud providers, Microsoft is offering Azure Stack as a consumption-based service, similar to its public cloud counterpart.

Some customers may not be ready for public cloud and are looking for a private cloud provider that offers public cloud capabilities. Vijay Tewari, a principal group program manager at Microsoft, explains:

The premise of Azure Stack is to bring the core attributes we run in the public Azure cloud, into your data center. Some customers are held back due to regulatory compliance and other technical or business reasons. This opens up new options for you to move to the cloud, but operate Azure in your data center.

Image Source: Microsoft Mechanics

Partner-driven Ecosystem

The underlying hardware that will run the Azure Stack will be provided by partners. The initial hardware partners include Dell, HP and Lenovo, with Cisco joining later this year. Customers will work with hardware partners to determine the size of infrastructure required by completing a deployment worksheet with information that includes Azure Active Directory and Network settings. The hardware partner will then be able to deliver a pre-configured solution that meets the customer’s needs. Initially, a customer can start with a deployment that has between 4 and 12 scale units. It is expected that a configuration that includes 12 scale units has the capacity to run more than 400 D2 virtual machines. Each hardware partner will have different hardware and support contracts, while the Azure Stack services will be metered by Microsoft and do not require upfront costs.

Image Source: Microsoft Mechanics

Management and Governance

Administrators will have a similar portal to the one they use to manage their public cloud services. In this case, administrators will be using the Azure Stack Portal where they can provision different Azure Stack services. Azure Stack ships with a core set of foundational services including infrastructure as a service (IaaS), compute, storage (blob, table, queues) and networking.

Image Source: Microsoft Mechanics

From the Azure Stack Portal, administrators can download services from the Azure Marketplace for use inside of Azure Stack. For example, if an administrator wants to make a SQL Server Virtual Machine image for use within their private cloud, they are able to download this gallery image from the public Azure Marketplace.

Image Source: Microsoft Mechanics

To ensure developers do not consume more resources than they are entitled to, Administrators can configure Offers, Plans and Quotas to restrict, or govern, what services can be consumed and at what consumption levels. Using these tools, 3rd party service providers can provide their own managed, or cloud, services to multiple customers and have the ability to manage these subscriptions.

Administrators can also meter consumption through the Azure Stack Portal or through a consumption API that Microsoft provides.

Image Source: Microsoft Mechanics

Additional management tools exist in the Azure Stack Portal, including the ability to view critical alerts and warnings. These events can also be sent to other IT management tools such as System Center Operations Manager (SCOM) or Nagios.

Image Source: Microsoft Mechanics

Update notifications are also exposed on the Azure Stack Portal which may include security patches, product fixes or new capabilities. Minimal downtime is achieved during updates by draining one host and dynamically relocating these resources to a different host. Microsoft will publish updates as frequently as possible, but customers can defer for up to six months.

Image Source: Microsoft Mechanics

Disaster Recovery

For customers who would like their primary services running on-premises, but require disaster recovery capabilities off-site, Azure Stack can replicate to the public Azure cloud. When required, customers can execute a fail-over and their services will come online in that environment.

Image Source: Microsoft Mechanics

Looking Forward

Azure Stack has been several years in the making and Microsoft is continuing to invest in the platform. Tewari describes three areas where Microsoft is investing in:

  • Scaling out Azure Stack, so customers can deploy to multiple regions with additional scale units.
  • More purpose-built monitoring and alerts with integration to Azure Log Analytics and OMS.
  • Automation of firmware updates into our patching and update framework.


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