Azure Stack: the last mile in Hybrid Cloud

Lee Cox, Cloud Solution Architect

What is Azure Stack?

In its simplest form, Microsoft Azure Stack is an on-premises extension of Microsoft Azure. The question most often asked after explaining this is “Why would I want to do that?” The answer to that question is anything but simple.

Since the beginning of Public Cloud, there have been many reasons why a workload can’t be moved, from physical or connectivity constraints to technical requirements preventing migration. Some workloads run in environments that have specific regulatory or government controls that prevent Public Cloud access. In other words, many edge cases keep certain applications or business functions from fully embracing the benefits of Azure.

Microsoft understands that certain functions or parts of business-critical applications won’t be able to fully transition to Azure. We invested in the creation of Azure Stack to provide our customers and partners another option in realizing a true API-compliant Hybrid Cloud model.

What do I get with Azure Stack?

Here’s the current list of Microsoft Azure Stack services you can deploy:

As you can see, most standard IaaS services are available, with the addition of several key PaaS platform services. Check out the Azure Roadmap for more capabilities on the horizon, which include:

Service Fabric* IaaS Containers* Azure Container Service (AKS) Managed Disks
Av2 & F Size VMs 16 Node Scale Units Azure Backup Support Azure Site Recovery Support

*Recent additions to the generally available services for Azure Stack.

Microsoft Azure Stack offers a significant set of capabilities already, and an extremely healthy pipeline of additional functionality will be coming to support larger environments, increased capacities, and current technologies for both Infrastructure and Cloud Native applications.

In addition, you get an integrated billing experience through the Cloud Solution Provider program (CSP) and Enterprise Agreements (EA) and Azure Stack extensibility through integration with the Azure Marketplace. Check out the current list of solutions and software. Microsoft Azure can improve your service offerings and capabilities as your environment transforms—including integrated testing, patch, and lifecycle management.

Where can I buy Azure Stack?

Here’s where the rubber meets the road: We’ve solved two main problems for you. First, you need only work with your hardware vendor of choice to buy a pre-certified Integrated System in the size you need. You can see a full list of the approved vendors here.

Secondly, the software licensing for the Microsoft Azure Stack platform is delivered through the consumption of services on the Integrated System. Though it does mean paying for consumption after purchasing the system, it’s at a vastly different rate than what is paid on Azure proper. The Azure Stack Pricing Datasheet can be found here, and you can see an excerpt of that difference in rates below:

Service Price
Base virtual machine $0.008/vCPU/hour ($6/vCPU/month)
Windows Server virtual machine $0.046/vCPU/hour ($34/vCPU/month)
Azure Blob Storage $0.006/GB/month (no transaction fee)
Azure Table and Queue Storage $0.018/GB/month (no transaction fee)
Azure App Service (Web Apps, Mobile Apps, API Apps, Functions) $0.056/vCPU/hour ($42/vCPU/month)

Not to mention you can further reduce the costs by leveraging existing licenses you or your customer may already own—which means that the cost per VM can drop significantly.

It’s tough to spin up A series VMs for $72 per month. But Microsoft Azure Stack can run an onsite VM for $72 per year.

So what isn’t Azure Stack?

As cool as Microsoft Azure Stack is, it isn’t going to run or replace everything. It isn’t designed to replace large virtualization environment. It isn’t a custom “set it and forget it” implementation or a DIY approach to implementing a Hybrid Cloud environment.

Some services, such as those that spin up large pools of virtual machines to process in a specific way, may never be available on Microsoft Azure Stack. These include Microsoft Azure Cognitive Services, exceptionally large HDInsight environments, and Microsoft Azure Data Lake Store. Services which are best consumed in a Hyperscale Cloud will run on Azure, while services that best fit an enterprise environment transforming to Cloud will go in Azure Stack.

Customers can pick the Microsoft Azure services which best fit their requirements from either side of the Azure ecosystem. Service are brought together with the same deployment language and engine. Leveraging Azure Resource Manager (ARM) and ARM Templates to provide a common services layer across both environments. ExpressRoute circuits can terminate into an Azure Stack from Azure, allowing direct access to the Azure network and resources.

How can I get started today?

Customers and partners don’t have to own Microsoft Azure Stack to start developing solutions and applications. Getting started today will put your customers ahead of the pack. Check out these options to get you started:

The last mile of any race is the hardest. This is especially true in the race to Cloud. Organizations face a myriad of roadblocks to onboard their workloads in a cloud environment, which is why Microsoft is offering Azure Stack. It’s an Azure cloud solution for those last-mile challenges. We’re delivering your customers the technology they want from Public Cloud in private environments, to deliver cloud not as a destination, but as a model for transformation.

Community call

If you’d like to hear more on this topic, register for the Applications and Infrastructure Community call on Friday, May 18 at 10 a.m. The call will provide insight into what’s most important in the Microsoft Partner ecosystem. We’ll have a conversational dialogue between two technology professionals that’s designed to appeal to technical, sales, and business professionals.

Register for the May 18 Community call 

Applications and Infrastructure Technical Community