• 5 min read

Azure Stack TP3 Delivers Hybrid Application Innovation and Introduces Pay-as-you-Use Pricing Model

Building innovative applications with a spirit of speed and experimentation is at the heart of the cloud revolution. We see companies around the world challenged to embrace digital transformation, rethinking how apps can become engine for delighting customers and driving new lines of business. We are excited to share the progress we’ve made in our work on Azure Stack, an extension of Azure, bringing the agility and fast-paced innovation of cloud computing to on-premises environments.

Building innovative applications on cloud technologies is critical for organizations to accelerate growth and create differentiated customer experiences. Applications leveraging cloud technologies with pay-as-you-use pricing are now standard. Our goal is to ensure that organizations choosing hybrid cloud environments have this same flexibility and innovation capability to match their business objectives and application designs. This is why we are extending Azure technologies on-premises with Azure Stack and today, are announcing several updates for Azure Stack:

  • TP3 available for download: Technical Preview 3 (TP3) is available for download today and has new features that enable: more modern application capabilities; running in locations without connections to Azure; along with infrastructure and security enhancements.
  • Packaging and pricing model: Azure Stack brings the cloud economic model on-premises with pay-as-you-use pricing.
  • Roadmap Update: Shortly after TP3, Azure Functions will be available to run on TP3, followed by Blockchain, Cloud Foundry, and Mesos templates. Continuous innovation will be delivered to Azure Stack up to general availability and beyond. TP3 is the final planned major Technical Preview before Azure Stack integrated systems will be available for order in mid-CY17.

Extending Azure on-premises

Azure Stack enables three unique hybrid cloud scenarios for organizations looking to build new apps and/or renovate existing apps across cloud and on-premises environments:

  • Consistent hybrid application development: Organizations investing in people, processes, and applications can do so knowing that it is transferable between Azure and Azure Stack. Individuals looking to develop skills can take those skills to any organization using Azure. Consistency between Azure and Azure Stack means organizations can draw from a worldwide pool of talent that can be productive on day one, easily moving from one project to another.  Individuals with Azure skills can move projects, teams, DevOps processes or organizations with ease. The APIs, Portal, PowerShell cmdlets, and Visual Studio experiences are all the same.
  • Azure services available on-premises: Infrastructure and Platform services fuel the next generation of application innovation. Delivering Azure IaaS and PaaS services on-premises empowers organizations to adopt hybrid cloud computing based on their business and technical requirements. They have the flexibility to choose the right combination of public, service provider, and on-premises deployment models. If they decide an app should be deployed in another location, they can easily move it without any modifications.
  • Purpose-built systems for operational excellence: To help organizations focus on work that drives their business, Azure Stack is delivered through integrated systems that are designed to continuously incorporate Azure innovation in a predictable, non-disruptive manner.

Hybrid use cases for Azure and Azure Stack

As we talk to customers about their cloud strategy, hybrid will be their steady state operating model and are looking to augment their cloud strategy with Azure Stack in a few key scenarios:

  1. Edge and disconnected solutions: Address latency and connectivity requirements by processing data locally in Azure Stack and then aggregating in Azure for further analytics, with common application logic across both. 
  2. Modern applications across cloud and on-premises: Apply Azure web & mobile services, containers, serverless, and microservice architectures to update and extend legacy applications with Azure Stack, while using a consistent DevOps process across on-premises and cloud.
  3. Cloud applications that meet every regulation: Develop and deploy applications in Azure, with full flexibility to deploy on-premises with Azure Stack to meet your regulatory or policy requirements, with no code changes needed.

Customers who have factory floor automation, remote use needs like cruise ships and mines, or requirements for isolation, like government systems, can all adopt modern designs, developing in the cloud and deploying in their locations. 

What’s new in Azure Stack TP3

With Azure Stack TP3, we’ve worked with customers to improve the product through numerous bug fixes, updates, and deployment reliability & compatibility improvements from TP2. With Azure Stack TP3 customers can:

  • Deploy with ADFS for disconnected scenarios
  • Start using Azure Virtual Machine Scale Sets for scale out workloads
  • Syndicate content from the Azure Marketplace to make available in Azure Stack
  • Use Azure D-Series VM sizes
  • Deploy and create templates with Temp Disks that are consistent with Azure
  • Take comfort in the enhanced security of an isolated administrator portal
  • Take advantage of improvements to IaaS and PaaS functionality
  • Use enhanced infrastructure management functionality, such as improved alerting

Roadmap Update

As part of our continuous innovation model, we will be adding Azure Functions, VM Extension syndication and multi-tenancy shortly after TP3. This will be followed by new workloads such as Blockchain, Cloud Foundry, and Mesos templates.  We will continue to refresh TP3 until we GA in mid-CY17.

In mid-CY17, the Proof of Concept (POC) deployment will be renamed to the Microsoft Azure Stack Development Kit. This single server dev/test tool enables customers to prototype and validate hybrid applications. It is a key piece of the continuous innovation model that Azure Stack will use to bring new functionality from Azure quickly to customers. It provides a way for new updates to be distributed early to customers so that they can experiment, learn and provide feedback.  

TP3 is our final planned major Technical Preview before GA.  The Azure Stack Development Kit will be released as GA first and at the same time we will release the software to our hardware partners so that they can finish the last mile of co-engineering work required to deliver multi-server Azure Stack integrated systems, mid-CY17.

After GA, we will continuously deliver additional capabilities through frequent updates. The first round of updates after GA are focused on two areas: 1) enhanced application modernization scenarios and 2) enhanced system management and scale. These updates will continue to expand customer choice of IaaS and PaaS technologies when developing applications, as well as improve manageability and grow the footprint of Azure Stack to accommodate growing portfolios of applications.

Extending cloud economics to on-premises with pay-as-you-use pricing

Azure Stack brings the cloud economic model on-premises, with pay-as-you-use pricing. As with Azure, there are no upfront licensing fees for using Azure services in Azure Stack and customers only pay when they use the services. Services are transacted in the same way as they are in Azure, with the same invoices and subscriptions. Services will be typically metered on the same units as Azure, but prices will be lower, since customers operate their own hardware and facilities. For scenarios where customers are unable to have their metering information sent to Azure, we will also offer a fixed-price “capacity model” based on the number of cores in the system.

Customers will acquire Azure Stack hardware from our hardware partners, Dell EMC, HPE, Lenovo and (later in the year) Cisco. We are excited to work with our hardware partners to provide a flexible range of buying options, including pay-as-you-go, for the hardware that underpins the integrated systems.

Customers can reach out to their Microsoft and hardware partner account representatives for detailed pricing information.

Final thoughts and next steps

Every company in every industry around the world transforming from an organization that simply uses digital technology, to a digital organization. We are dedicated to helping organizations grow by creating continually evolving products for their customers.

Azure and the Azure Stack integrated systems enable businesses to focus on investing energy and talent on turning their application portfolio into a strategic differentiator for their business. This approach enables customer choice and flexibility of deploying and operating their application where it best meets their business needs. IT can deliver far greater value by empowering development teams with self-service provisioning and cloud services while partnering with them to establish DevOps workflows that meet business policies and requirements.

Learn more about Azure Stack and download Azure Stack TP3.

Jeffrey Snover
Azure Infrastructure and Management Technical Fellow
Follow me on Twitter at @jsnover