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Organizations are rapidly turning to the cloud to increase business agility and drive faster innovation. At Microsoft we’ve seen this first-hand rapid adoption of Microsoft Azure, where we’re seeing nearly 100,000 new subscriptions every month. However, we know many enterprises still have business concerns around moving fully to the public cloud, such as data sovereignty or regulatory considerations. This leaves them in a complicated position, with one foot in the public cloud and one on-premises.

To manage this complexity, Microsoft believes enterprises have to approach cloud as a model – not a place. This model cuts across infrastructure, applications and people, and requires a hybrid cloud approach that provides consistency across private, hosted, and public clouds. To translate this model into reality, customers need a consistent cloud platform that spans hybrid environments. Only Microsoft is able to deliver on this need in a manner where the platform is proven in hyper-scale public cloud and extended to private and hosted clouds.

Today, Microsoft is delivering on the next phase of its hybrid cloud strategy with the first Technical Preview of Microsoft Azure Stack – the only hybrid cloud platform that is consistent with a leading public cloud. Born from Azure, Azure Stack helps organizations deliver Azure services from their own datacenter.

With Azure Stack, Microsoft is bringing proven innovation – including IaaS and higher level PaaS services – from hyper-scale datacenters to on-premises, enterprise-scale environments to meet customers’ business requirements.

Why does a consistent hybrid cloud platform really matter? Because it provides customers access to the rich Azure ecosystem, empowering developers, IT and organizations to do more:

  • Application developers can maximize their productivity using a ‘write once, deploy to Azure or Azure Stack’ approach.  Using APIs that are identical to Microsoft Azure, they can create applications based on open source or .NET technology that can easily run on-premises or in the public cloud. They can also leverage the rich Azure ecosystem to jumpstart their Azure Stack development efforts.
  • IT professionals can transform on-premises datacenter resources into Azure IaaS/PaaS services while maintaining oversight using the same management and automation tools that Microsoft uses to operate Azure. This approach to cloud enables IT professionals to have a valuable seat at the table – they are empowered to deliver services to the business quickly, while continuing to steward corporate governance needs.
  • Organizations can embrace hybrid cloud computing on their terms by helping them address business and technical considerations like regulation, data sovereignty, customization and latency. Azure Stack enables that by giving businesses the freedom to decide where applications and workloads reside without being constrained by technology.

How does Azure Stack deliver this consistency across the public cloud and your datacenter? Just like Azure, Azure Stack is a comprehensive platform for hosting modern business applications.  Azure and Azure Stack have a standardized architecture, including the same portal, a unified application model, and common DevOps tools. The application model is based on Azure Resource Manager, which enables developers to take the same declarative approach to applications, regardless of whether they run on Azure or Azure Stack. Tooling-wise, developers can use Visual Studio, PowerShell, as well as other open-source DevOps tools thereby enabling the same end user experiences as in Azure.

Through a series of Technical Previews, Microsoft will add services and content such as OS images and Azure Resource Manager templates to help customers start taking advantage of Azure Stack. Also, Azure has 100s of such applications and components on GitHub and as the corresponding services come to Azure Stack, users can take advantage of those as well. In this context, we are already seeing early excitement from partners – especially open source partners –  like Canonical, who are contributing validated Ubuntu Linux images that enable open source applications to work well in Azure Stack environments.

We believe that Microsoft can uniquely deliver this hybrid cloud platform in a way no other technology vendor can. We have a rich set of assets and investments across on-premises and public cloud.  We have a deep understanding of enterprise requirements for both developers and IT professionals acquired through many years of delivering transformational datacenter technologies. We have rich experiences and learnings building and operating hyper-scale datacenters. And with Azure Stack, we’re now doing the hard work of translating these learnings for on-premises environments so customers can benefit from speed and innovation of the cloud model without location constraints. Microsoft is the only company that can bring the full power of a true hybrid cloud platform to our customers.

The first Technical Preview of Azure Stack will be live this Friday, January 29. I hope you’ll take some time to try it out and let us know your thoughts. We’ll also be sharing much more information on Azure Stack over the next couple of weeks, starting with a webcast hosted by Mark Russinovich (CTO, Microsoft Azure) and Jeffrey Snover (Chief Architect, Enterprise Cloud) on February 3. And, be on the lookout for lots more Azure innovation coming to your datacenter this year!

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