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Microsoft Azure Stack Q&A

When Microsoft announced that the Microsoft Azure Stack would be a thing, I had to stop and think about the fundamental impact on the cloud. I'm a co-host of the In Tech We Trust podcast, and when this was announced on an episode, I latched on to it.

This is a very important time for IT practitioners. Everywhere I look, the cloud and service provider angle becomes an option in how datacenters are run, leveraging key technologies like virtualization and modern storage systems. The benefits of the cloud model are clear, with a crucial differentiator: the applications used. What I would call a cloud-stack application model vs. a traditional application-stack model is an important decision point for an enterprise.

However, the Azure Stack bridges an important gap here. The cloud style of consumption and user experience is provided, yet the application offerings are right in line with what IT practitioners have deployed and supported for years. Now, those offerings have been expanded with capabilities like containers.

Consider also the advantages of running Azure on your own infrastructure. I'm doing this now, and think you should, too. To that end, I've created a simple Q&A to help you get started:

What is the Azure Stack? It's a way to run the Azure experience on your own infrastructure. Azure Stack provides Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) and Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) capabilities.

Does it only work with Microsoft OSes and applications? No. You'll see Linux images and third-party applications in the form of Azure Resource Manager templates.

Can I just throw it in to my environment as a VM? Not really. The Azure Stack has some significant requirements, and they should be taken seriously. Things in this document to note:

  • 128 GB of RAM and 2 sockets with 16 cores recommended -- but not enforced
  • Windows Server 2016 Datacenter Edition TP4 needs to be installed and updated
  • A Microsoft Azure Active Directory account must be in place (Azure Active Directory costs $6 per user, per month)

Will I have to use PowerShell? Unfortunately for some, yes. A lot of the Azure Stack configuration elements in the preview are PowerShell scripts. The good news is that most of the scripts are provided, and that the finished product will be a Web experience that consumes the IaaS and PaaS resources.

I expect the Azure Stack to be a game-changer in the datacenter. It will answer many IT questions about its validity, and help determine if the cloud model will meet an organization's requirements.

Posted by Rick Vanover on 03/08/2016 at 9:19 AM


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