Announcing the Microsoft Azure Stack

Guest post by Natalia Mackevicius, Partner Group PM Manager, Microsoft

Change is in the air! I love the change of seasons, especially this time of year when days get longer and we get to watch our gardens come to life with spring blooms. Every spring, I think I can rely on the patterns from the seasons before, but I quickly find I have to adapt to a new reality. 

IT Disruption

IT is going through a similar transformation. Over the last two years, there has been lots of buzz on the transformation in the industry to cloud computing. The traditional model of IT is evolving to make way for agile, cloud service delivery. Business units in pursuit of agility are looking for self-service approaches, with the promises of reliability, availability, scale and elasticity. This has been driving flight to the public cloud where developers and business units are going around good IT practice in order to innovate – often introducing risks to their companies that they were never held accountable for in the past and are not equipped to deal with today. In 2014, 40% of IT spending is occurring outside the IT organization, up from 36% in 2012 according to Gartner. There is a large opportunity for Corporate IT to embrace the new patterns as an alternative to “shadow IT.”

Harnessing the Change

Corporate IT is still responsible for the impact applications make on a company’s operations and, often times, apps can’t move to a public cloud. Traditional IT makes large investments in datacenter hardware for scale, reliability and availability. Control of physical access & security, change configuration and bandwidth & latency minimize risk in the infrastructure. Yet these controls are not only expensive, but can also slow down innovation. Corporate IT needs to evolve to create private and hybrid cloud offerings that can support both traditional and cloud-born application models. There is a huge opportunity for IT to embrace and support the business transformation and improve business efficiency. Our vision is to establish a new paradigm in the cloud era for successfully working with applications and infrastructure. Our goal is to enable rapid innovation and change while carrying forward the hard learnings of traditional on-premises IT. We do that every day with Microsoft Azure. Today we are delighted to announce that as part of the 2016 wave of products we are bringing Azure to your Datacenter with the Microsoft Azure Stack, equipping you to transform your organization. 

If you deconstruct Azure, or any public cloud, at the heart is a world-class datacenter with managed servers, storage and networking. Operations and automation give the cloud its heartbeat, as clouds require tight integration of servers, networking, storage and the OS. This is similar to the physical datacenter you run today. And while the cloud infrastructure can reduce hardware costs and provide elasticity, and virtualization can help with mobility, it is the services and new development patterns that make it a cloud. A cloud provides self-service capability coupled with elasticity, scalability and automated management. Where traditional datacenters are designed to minimize access and change, the cloud in general, and Azure in particular, is designed to encourage it.

That said, we know that our customers don’t typically need to operate their own infrastructure at the scale of Azure. But they need the flexibility and efficiency that it enables. The Microsoft Azure Stack brings true Azure cloud services and development paradigms to your datacenter in a way that enables IT with the control they need.

IT Transformation

This transformation begins with a fundamental change – presenting IT as a service. Traditional IT is based on classic distributed servers with strong regulation of users, limiting choice to manage risk and security. In a cloud infrastructure, most of these traditional business processes have to change to meet the customer’s desire to leverage on-demand services. One of the ways to meet these new customer needs is through next generation application support. This is where cloud infrastructure offerings excel, providing quick application/service deployment, iteration and robust data to show business results. Moving forward, administrators need to not only control their infrastructure, but abstract applications through services providing flexibility to their business users.

Why the Azure Stack

Given the significant investments Microsoft has made in Azure to support the increasing velocity of business expectations, we are uniquely positioned to bring those learnings to your on-premises datacenters, helping IT transform the role of technology. Microsoft Azure Stack enables you to transition from traditional IT control, towards providing vision and innovation in a services-based approach. Microsoft is providing Azure tools, processes and infrastructure so you can best support your users. Our cloud is the edge of your datacenter; your services can be the edge of our cloud.

Agility and Predictability

The Microsoft Azure Stack has its origins in a true public hyper-scale cloud. We are bringing our innovations from running Azure at hyper-scale to our customer and partner on-premises and hybrid datacenters.

Microsoft Azure Stack will meet the business needs of agile development and operations by enabling self-service cloud experiences and APIs, helping IT effectively manage risk and changing demands.   Azure Stack will support both “cloud-native” applications and traditional enterprise-grade applications.  The Microsoft Azure Stack gives application owners the ability to “write once, deploy anywhere”, whether it be to your private cloud, a service provider’s cloud, or the public Azure cloud. Developers will have the broadest access to application development platforms across Windows and Linux to build, deploy, and operate cloud applications using consistent tools, processes and artifacts. One Azure ecosystem across public, private and hosted clouds will allow you to participate in a unified, robust partner network for Azure clouds.  Partners can further extend the ecosystem by providing software, services and tools, as well as hardware, to run on Azure Stack clouds. Private or hybrid cloud deployments will be simplified with a software foundation optimized for converged infrastructure.   

Microsoft Azure Stack delivers an Azure unified application development model and self-service IaaS and PaaS experiences supported by cloud-inspired infrastructure. The Azure-based services deliver a “consistent core” of Azure capabilities that can be deployed to any datacenter. IaaS and PaaS will be delivered as Resource Providers under common Azure Resource Manager, Portal, IT and Dev tools. Azure Stack shares infrastructure and service implementations with Azure cloud.  Azure Stack will provide more than just API compatibility – a significant part of the Azure Stack will be comprised of the same exact code that runs in the public Azure cloud. Azure Stack is a truly shared implementation of the cloud-scale technologies.

Reliability and control is provided through Windows Server and Azure technologies in the Azure Stack. Significant innovation in the cloud-inspired infrastructure provides software defined datacenter technologies, including investments in networking, storage and security; increased flexibility and improved efficiency.

System Center and Microsoft Operations Management Suite (OMS) will fully manage the Azure Stack services and cloud-inspired infrastructure.

The Microsoft Azure Stack brings Azure to any datacenter. It creates an ideal private or hybrid cloud infrastructure with consistent APIs, tools, and shared ecosystem. Only Microsoft delivers a true hybrid infrastructure. 

The Microsoft Azure Stack will be available as part of the 2016 wave of products. Those interested in our vision can start the journey by trying the new Azure Portal and Azure Resource Manager, or with Windows Server 2012 R2, System Center 2012 R2, and the Azure Pack.  

Today’s announcement marks a significant milestone in helping our customers meet their agile development needs while providing the control corporate IT requires by bringing the power of Azure to their datacenter.  

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Comments (0)

  1. Steve says:

    Natalia so where does ITSM come in to the picture, ITSM is a vital aspect of Delivering any service, either if its in the public- private- cloud and I haven’t seen any initiatives around ITSM from Microsoft in many years. What are your future plans for
    Service Manager or Cloud Based ITSM. Should we rely on third party tools or will we see some investments in this Area?

  2. Anna says:

    MSFt private cloud has been there from a long time now under Azure Pack. What is this new thing then? Microsoft is confusing customers

  3. Aslak Jonhaugen says:

    Will Azure Search be available in Azure Stack PaaS?

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