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An early look at Azure Stack and what it means for IT

Posted on 4 februar, 2016

Last week we made available the Technical Preview for Azure Stack the latest phase of our hybrid cloud strategy which for the first time, gives you Microsoft Azure services to run your data center like a service provider. As outlined in yesterday’s webcast with Mark Russinovich and Jeffrey Snover, Azure and Azure Stack share a standardized architecture, including the same portal, a unified application model, and common DevOps tools. This gives you the freedom to decide where applications and workloads reside without being constrained by technology.

Today, on Microsoft Mechanics, Jeffrey Snover, Chief Architect, Enterprise Cloud, demonstrates the specific advantages of Azure Stack for those of you in IT.

The main idea with Azure Stack is that everyone wins, developers no longer need to go around IT to quickly get the required resources for their apps with Azure, businesses get the services they want faster and IT ideally spends less time cleaning things up after the fact.

Azure Stack, allows you as an IT professional, to transform your on-premises datacenter resources into Azure IaaS/PaaS services for their application needs. As we demonstrate on the show, you can then set specific quota limits on services such as storage, network bandwidth and compute by creating what we call a Plan. Applying policy controls also allows you to determine who has access to the Plan, what they have access to and even control whether or not the application is deployed on-premises or in the cloud based on your compliance and business needs.

Plans can be developed to support different use cases, for instance the needs of a dev-test environment are different to those of a production environment. Importantly, the Plan becomes the contract between you as an IT Professional and your developers and as Jeffrey demonstrates on the show, a plan is made available to your developers by creating an Offer.

An Offer can comprise a single or multiple plans and as developers consume the Offer for their applications, IT has full visibility of resource utilization with the same management and automation tools that Microsoft uses to operate Azure. For example, you are able to quickly get an aggregate view of capacity across multiple servers.

In fact, by focusing on architecting the right plans, IT plays a critical role in administering the right control and oversight, while ensuring the right balance between what gets deployed on-premises or in the public cloud.

What helps make this possible, is that the APIs for Azure and Azure Stack are the same. The unified application model is based on Azure Resource Manager (which was covered on a previous Microsoft Mechanics show with Corey Sanders). This template-based approach enables developers to take the same declarative method 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.

On the show, Jeffrey demonstrates how a developer can define a SharePoint App with an Azure Resource Manager Template and consume the Offer comprising the specified resources and services allocated within the Plan defined by IT.

To learn more watch the show, try it for yourself and check out our technical guide.