Why Microsoft’s Azure Stack is a game changer for hybrid IT

Could Microsoft’s not-so secret weapon get the edge on AWS?

The promise of the cloud is based on offloading processing and other data management tasks to offsite locations, but businesses of all sizes are gradually coming to realise that they’re better off running certain applications internally.

Microsoft are hoping Azure Stack will bridge this gap, giving Azure users the ability to run Azure consistent services in their own data centers. “Azure Stack will be a game changer in terms of how we run our data centres” predicts Mark Skelton, Head of Consultancy at OCSL, a Microsoft-friendly IT service provider. He adds:

It effectively creates Nirvana; one place to code, one place to develop and one platform to build upon.

Here are a few reasons why Azure Stack is in huge demand before it’s release.

Consistent Application Development

While public cloud promises greater flexibility, experts have noted a drawback: Developing cloud applications means relying completely on external hardware and services. In addition to noting the problems that occur when network connectivity is lost, cloud users have also come to realize that some tasks are better done on internal hardware.

With Azure Stack, developers can rely on the same programming platform for both public and private applications, simplifying software development. Furthermore, developers can seamlessly switch between these two types of processing, making it easier to tweak software on the fly. This unified interface looks to further solidify Azure’s place in the cloud field.

Integrated Solution with partnerships

Public cloud provides a largely transparent experience; developers don’t need to worry about hardware-specific quirks and features. With Azure Stack, Microsoft wants to ensure a seamless infrastructure that will maximize the performance of Azure Stack, which is the reason Azure Stack is only available through select hardware partners. Hewlett Packard Enterprise, for example, is offering HPE ProLiant for Microsoft Azure Stack, providing an integrated hybrid cloud solution that is coupled with the broad range of service and support services HPE is known for providing.

Microsoft’s Claude Lorenson spoke to us a few weeks ago about their joint product strategy with HPE. “We’ve invested with HPE on big assets” he says, in reference to their Azure Stack Innovation Centres which are “more than kicking the tires” on market readiness. Watch his chat with HPE’s Aaron Spurlock above.

Pay-as-You-Use Pricing

The pay-as-you-use pricing model has been a major driver in public cloud’s success; companies don’t have to risk heavy upfront licensing fees to try out cloud options, and they can easily scale their growth as their demands increase. One of the most innovative aspects of Azure Stack is bringing this model into private data centers. Below, Microsoft’s Global Leader for Microsoft’s Worldwide Channel Sales Alyssa Fitzpatrick explains why there is nothing else like it on the market.

Avoiding the cost of upfront software licensing makes Azure Stack a compelling option for both large and small companies. It makes it easier for any business to calculate the cost of increasing operational demands.

Perhaps the most attractive feature of pay-as-you-use pricing is its simplicity; being able to avoid licensing negotiations can be a significant boon for businesses.  HPE are offering pay-as-you-use pricing from the integrated hardware solution side as well, further simplifying the hybrid cloud experience.

Azure from your datacenter

Azure is known for its reliability, security, and flexibility; Azure Stack lets companies take advantage of these features in their own datacenters. Microsoft have announced a number of capabilities that will be available with version 1 (below).

The power of Azure goes beyond its virtualization capabilities, and its features may lead companies to switch some tasks previously done on other hardware to their Azure Stack environment. Microsoft has made it clear that Azure and its ecosystem are cornerstones of their future efforts, and businesses will be able to take advantage of improvements they make to the platform over the years.

The Azure platform has become a workhorse of business computing, and there’s no sign that demand for cloud computing is going to slow down any time soon. However, the cloud is constantly evolving, and Azure Stack promises businesses a flexible and powerful tool that will continue to cement Microsoft’s leading role in the cloud space.

The company have promised general availability of Azure Stack in “mid-2017” (like now?) but you can still download the technical preview here.