In 2015, Microsoft announced Azure Stack at the Ignite Conference in Chicago. Azure Stack is developed as the on-premises version of Microsoft’s enterprise-grade public cloud platform. It comes with a set of software and tools to enable enterprises to build hybrid applications in on-premise environments. In July, Microsoft announced Azure Stack-powered systems from several leading hardware manufacturers – Lenovo, HP Enterprise, and Dell EMC. These companies plan to roll out Azure Stack-powered systems in September.
Likewise, Cisco and Huawei are expected to launch their Azure Stack-powered systems in near future. The enterprises can take advantage of Azure Stack simply by plugging in these systems to their data centers. The integration will enable enterprises to extend their data centers with a variety of Azure services. Microsoft even allows users to choose from a number of pricing models and pay only for computing capacity used by them.
Valuable Azure Stack Features That Make It Popular
Extension of Azure
Azure Stack is an extension of the popular public cloud platform – Azure. Both Azure and Azure Stack use the same tools, processes, and APIs. But an enterprise can host Azure Stack on-premises. Also, it can deliver Azure Stack from its data center through third-party integration systems. Hence, an enterprise can take advantage access a variety of Azure tools, services, and APIs while retaining its on-premise data center.
Hybrid Cloud Environments
Many enterprises nowadays opt for hybrid cloud to extend their on-premise infrastructure through robust public cloud resources. Azure Stack enables enterprises to build a variety of applications in hybrid environments. An enterprise can use Azure Stack-powered system to deliver Azure services directly from its data centers. It can even make developers productive by enabling them to develop and deploy the apps on Azure and Azure Stack in the same way.
Azure Stack Integrated Systems
As mentioned, several hardware manufacturers have announced their plan to roll out Azure Stack integrated systems. The integration systems make it easier for enterprises to access and deliver Azure Stack from their existing data centers. The user can simply plug in the integration system into his data center and deliver consistent Azure experience. He can even use the system to integrate Azure Stack with various monitoring and identity services. The integration system even helps users to access the new features and tools provided by Azure.
Accelerate Application Development and Deployment
Both Azure and Azure Stack use the same tools, APIs, and processes. A developer can accelerate development of cloud-based applications by accessing application model and APIs through Azure Resource Manager. Also, he has option to work with widely used technologies like PHP, Java, Python, NodeJS, Cloud Foundry and Docker-integrated containers. At the same time, Azure Stack delivers continuous deployment and integration experience through a set of DevOps tools.
Azure Stack Development Kit (ASDK)
Microsoft has developed ASDK as a single-server deployment option. All components of the single-node deployment for Azure Stack are installed in virtual machines. These virtual machines further operate through a single host machine. Hence, the developers can use ASDK to prototype applications that will run seamlessly after being deployed to a multi-server production system after web application development.
Two Pricing Models
The enterprises can use Azure Stack based on any of the two pricing models – pay-as-you-use and capacity-based. The pay-as-you-use model enables businesses to pay only for the cloud computing resources and tools used by them. On the other hand, the capacity-based model requires users to pay an annual fee according to the number of physical cores in their systems. Hence, an enterprise can use Azure Stack according to its precise requirements and budget.
Alternative to OpenStack
The components of OpenStack make it easier for enterprises to manage private and public cloud platforms efficiently by integrating private cloud and AWS-compatible platforms. Microsoft promotes Azure Stack as a robust alternative to OpenStack. Unlike OpenStack, Azure Stack enables enterprises to leverage benefits of hybrid cloud while using their on-premise data centers and servers. The integration systems provided by leading hardware manufacturers will make it easier for enterprises to build cloud applications in hybrid cloud environment, while using their on-premise infrastructure.
At present, Microsoft is the only leading public cloud vendor who enables enterprises to combine their on-premise and cloud infrastructures. It has designed Azure Stack as an integration system extend on-premise infrastructure through cloud services. But the enterprises have to use Azure Stack-powered systems developed by certified manufacturers to build applications in hybrid cloud environments. Also, they have to use Azure Stack based on pay-as-you-use pricing.