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After introducing it in 2015, Microsoft recently announced its Azure Stack platform is ready for customer purchase. Why is there so much buzz around this platform, and what does it mean for the enterprise customer?
There is a lot of interest around Azure Stack, and for good reason. Essentially, it offers the same functionality, performance and security that they offer in the public cloud, but with the added bonus of running it in your own data center. This gives you the privacy and data sovereignty you need. It’s a big deal for companies who want to take advantage of Azure’s powerful PaaS capabilities but are stopped by compliance and regulatory requirements, as well as complicated deployments where there may be little to no internet access. Azure Stack aims to address those regulatory concerns and streamline the deployment process by working directly with hardware providers to deliver integrated systems.
There are many kinds of cloud platforms available today, but they aren’t always easy to run. For example, open source cloud platform OpenStack is one of the biggest community projects in use, but it can be complicated to deploy and update, and Microsoft wanted to avoid that problem with Azure Stack. Therefore, the Azure team is offering delivery through something called an “appliance experience,” where hardware providers (and Microsoft partners) Dell EMC, Lenovo and HPE will offer specially integrated systems certified to run Azure Stack.
The idea behind this is to help customers avoid struggles with deployment as well as hardware issues later on. As the WannaCry and NotPetya attacks have proven, many companies don’t patch and update their systems regularly. This leads not only to major security problems like ransomware and malware but also compatibility issues with software and OS components if drivers aren’t installed regularly. Therefore, Microsoft has stressed that its partners will deliver Azure Stack on industry-standard servers (starting with four-node systems) rather than one-off machines that may not be up to date.
But as with any IT solution, Azure Stack isn’t one-size-fits-all. If you’re looking to bring cloud burst capacity to your own data center, for example, you’re out of luck. With Microsoft’s current hardware requirements, you cannot yet grow and shrink the physical hardware as needed with Azure Stack the same way you can with Azure public cloud. You will want to do careful research on your business’s current and future needs before deciding if Azure Stack is right for you.
Azure Stack has changed the cloud landscape significantly by offering the enterprise Microsoft’s public cloud capabilities to run within its own data center. This allows companies to run workloads in Azure without using Azure public cloud, while providing peace of mind to those who want to use their own on-premise infrastructure or adhere to regulatory compliance. But while this sounds like a good fit for many people, it’s not for everyone. It’s best to do some more research to see if it’s right for you. To learn more, visit the Azure Stack page.