The Azure Stack Promise
- Posted on February 8, 2018
- Estimated reading time 4 minutes
This article was originally written by Avanade alum Steve Buchanan.
What is the Azure Stack promise? Is it the three use case scenarios (edge/disconnected, meet regulatory requirements, and bring cloud on-premises) we normally hear mentioned? In this blog post, we will dive deeper into what you can utilize Azure Stack for going beyond the three typical use case examples. We are going to explore services that can be run on Azure Stack.
Let’s start out explaining what the Azure Stack promise is. According to Microsoft's official whitepaper "Azure Stack: An Extension of Azure," Azure and Azure Stack enable three core promises for customers:
- Azure Services Available on-premises
- Consistent Application Development
- Integrated Delivery Experience
The promise is consistent with Azure being a true extension of Azure, it is having the same cloud power you get with Azure down in your data center. This opens many possibilities such as having the power of Azure at your fingertips while being able to meet certain regulations that won't allow you to run workloads. It also opens the possibility to leverage cloud services in edge and disconnected scenarios.
For example, if you are an energy company and you want to run or develop an app that utilizes a micro-services architecture in a part of your environment that is closed off to the internet, you could deploy Azure Stack and run Service Fabric or something like Cloud Foundry.
With Azure Stack you also have access to utilize the same DevOps tooling as you can in Azure. DevOps tooling allows organizations to move much faster fostering digital transformation in their organization. If you want the same tooling and power of technology that disruptive organizations are using but need it to be on-premises you can use Azure Stack to accomplish that. Notice how the three use cases are woven into the promise. That is because the promise of Azure Stack delivers in these three areas and more.
Azure Stack has not been in the market that long and therefore it currently has a subset of core Azure services. The core subset of services currently includes:
- Azure IaaS
- Azure Virtual Machines (A, D, and Dv2 sizes), Azure Virtual Machine Scale Sets
- Azure Storage (blobs, tables, queues)
- Azure Networking: Virtual Networks, Load Balancer, VPN Gateway
- Azure Key Vault
- Azure PaaS
- Azure App Service: Web Apps, API Apps, Mobile apps
- Azure Functions
- Standalone Azure Service Fabric clusters on IaaS VMs, deployable to Azure Stack or Azure
- Azure Container Service (ACS) Engine support (includes Docker Swarm, Mesosphere DC/OS, and Kubernetes container management templates)
- MySQL RP
- SQL Server RP
- DevOps Tooling integration
- Visual Studio
- Visual Studio Team Services (VSTS) (Coming soon)
- Azure CLI 2.0
- Azure Automation
- Desired State Configuration (DSC)
- Identity integration
- Azure Active Directory (AAD) multi-tenant support
- Active Directory Federation Services (ADFS) support
As you can see from the core set services that are available in Azure there is a lot of functionality that can be offered to end-users and the business. These services are what can be offered out as a part of the 3 use cases and get to the core of what can be offered to your customers from Azure Stack. The capabilities that can be offered to end-users and the business does not stop there. As Azure Stack continues to mature we will see more and more Azure services lit up in Azure Stack, extending the capabilities that can be offered. We don’t have to wait as there are further capabilities we can offer in Azure Stack today.
Further capabilities can be realized on Azure Stack through 2 ways:
- Simply through IaaS using ARM templates
- Through the Azure Stack Marketplace
Many ISV's, hardware partners etc. are making their solutions available directly in Azure Stack via images and can be pulled down to Azure Stack using Marketplace Syndication. Marketplace Syndication allows you to connect Azure Stack to an Azure subscription and pull market place items from that Azure subscription into your Azure Stack's market place. Some examples of items available through the Marketplace are:
- Kemp has made their load balancer technology available via a marketplace item specifically for Azure Stack.
- Pivotal Cloud Foundry has committed to enabling first-class microservices hybrid scenarios with Azure Stack. They are doing this with a new Pivotal Cloud Foundry image available for Azure Stack to enable the ability to deploy apps written Java and Spring across Azure or Azure Stack. The marketplace image has 70% fewer VMs. This makes it ideal to use in edge locations, or departmental solutions that want velocity.
- Gridpro lets you run a service catalog on your Azure Stack along with integration into your ITSM systems such as ServiceNow, Cherwell, System Center Service Manager and more.
- Bitnami has a plethora of IaaS images already out on Azure spanning many workloads. Some of the applications are content management systems (Drupal, WordPress), Learning Management Systems (LMS), CRM, open source database platforms, an open source OneDrive like service, open source version control systems, eCommerce and more. They have worked to make these compatible on Azure Stack as well. Some of the application images available are:
Beyond this we can expect to see and have already many other capability images available via IaaS ARM templates for services like Blockchain, SharePoint 2016, MySQL and more. The best place to find these are in the Azure Stack quick start templates Github repository.
To sum this up you can see that Azure and Azure Stack are a powerful combination and true hybrid cloud solution that delivers on its promise. The idea here was to shed light on the capabilities available today in Azure Stack beyond the core functionality.
Microsoft Azure Stack is changing the game in hybrid cloud platforms with a true hybrid cloud experience. For the first time, you can have a common, single vendor platform across cloud and on-premises data centers. To meet various industry needs, Avanade can provide a fully managed solution delivered on-premises in your data center, at remote locations or hosted in Avanade's data centers. Avanade’s deep operational knowledge and experience with Microsoft Azure and Azure Stack provides you with a single trusted partner for all your Azure needs.
Learn more about Avanade’s Solution for Azure Stack.
Microsoft MVP Steve Buchanan, one of Avanade’s newest to join the cloud transformation team in Minneapolis, has recently published a book about Azure Stack by Pearson Publishing in its popular “Unleashed” series. “Microsoft Hybrid Cloud Unleashed with Azure Stack and Azure” is available in both paperback and Amazon Kindle formats. The book was co-authored by five Microsoft Cloud and Datacenter Management MVPs. Microsoft Hybrid Cloud Unleashed brings together comprehensive and practical insights into hybrid cloud technologies, complete CloudOps and DevOps implementation strategies, and detailed guidance for deploying Microsoft Azure Stack.
For more information about the new Azure Stack book, check out Steve's blog post on it.