Azure Stack technical preview goes live tomorrow

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Microsoft plans to kick off the technical preview of its Azure Stack cloud infrastructure offering tomorrow, finally enabling both Azure-based infrastructure as a service and platform as a service in private data centers.

Azure Stack, which was unveiled last spring, was designed to provide the best of both worlds to enterprises that want the benefits of Azure but are still wary of the public cloud. With Azure Stack, enterprises will be able to deploy Azure-based clouds within their private data centers, but because it's essentially the same technology Microsoft is using in its public cloud, enterprises should be able to easily put one foot in the public cloud.

This fits in well with Microsoft's hybrid cloud strategy, but there are still plenty of questions to be answered about licensing and how integrations between private and public Azure clouds will work. Of course, this is only the first technical preview, so it still may take some time for Microsoft to work out all the kinks and get the product ready for general availability.

It's also Microsoft's attempt to create an enterprise hybrid cloud environment that is consistent across both public and private cloud sides of the equation.

"Azure and Azure Stack have a standardized architecture, including the same portal, a unified application model, and common DevOps tools," wrote Mike Neil, corporate vice president of enterprise cloud at Microsoft, in a blog post. "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."

Also of note is the uniqueness of this offering. As a Network World article pointed out, Microsoft's biggest cloud competitors – Amazon Web Services and Google Cloud Platform – don't have a similar offering. That's not surprising, mind you. Both AWS and Google have generally maintained a focus strictly on public cloud, leaving private cloud offerings to partners and competitors. AWS has also taken little interest in developing its own PaaS – instead providing the infrastructure for customers to host their own PaaS offerings.

"Market validation is making Microsoft acknowledge that migrating to the cloud isn't as easy as flipping a switch. With Azure Stack, Microsoft is enabling enterprises to move gradually to the cloud with an on-premise product so that users can choose what workflows stay on premise and what workflows can be moved to the public cloud," said Kunal Rupani, principle product manager at Accellion, in an email to media. "This is a smart, strategic move. By investing in a hybrid future, Microsoft is allowing enterprises to prioritize their current needs without disregarding the CIO's dreams of a pure cloud future."

Microsoft will likely unveil more details about Azure Stack during a Feb. 3 webcast. It has yet to announce a general availability date.

For more:
- read the Azure blog
- read Network World's article

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