In my previous post I looked at hybrid IT (and cloud) and introduced the forthcoming game-changing technology from Microsoft – Azure Stack. Expanding on that,  this blog will go into a bit more detail on why you might want a private cloud in the first place and why specifically you would choose to use Azure Stack inside your own datacentre or for customer cloud solutions.

Obviously the cloud still allows the use of virtual machines (VMs) but increasingly companies are drawn to the benefits of running infrastructure as a service (IaaS), as well as platform as a service (PaaS), which commoditises these elements and focuses time and effort instead on providing solutions to end customers. Azure Stack now takes this core idea with the benefits of public cloud and allows a company to replicate this on-premises (in their datacentre).

What will Azure Stack be good for?

Azure Stack for ISVs and dev/test is just one of the applications. If a company has already invested in a robust IaaS (VM) solution and if all it plans to do is build more VMs and run them in Azure Stack then the benefits may be harder to prove. One of the real world scenarios for Azure Stack is to offer ISVs, who want to take advantage of the cloud, a consistent environment where they can build applications and services in private Azure Stack and then simply move these to public Azure without having to re-engineer them.

[easy-tweet tweet=”Public Azure makes perfect sense for an ISV” user=”PulsantUK” hashtags=”cloud, tech, ISV”]

Right now many ISVs are developing and moving their applications to Azure (public). Azure provides geographically redundant global datacentre environments that are externally hosted and scaled to the need of an ISV’s customer quickly and easily in all of the regions that ISV/application is serving. Azure (public) makes perfect sense for an ISV in that respect.

However, as much as ISVs like the idea of the infinitely scalable dev/test environment that Azure (public) provides, they often need and want better control during the development process and where the code (the intellectual property) resides. They want development capacity in private environments with the ability to add resources as required for compilation and processing whilst doing so in an environment that is similar, if not identical, to the one in which the application or service will be deployed. Azure Stack provides the ability to completely control the physical location and allocated capacity of the dev/test environments. Because development is happening in Azure Stack (on-premises), the application can then be easily shifted from dev/test into Azure (public) because the two environments are effectively the same.

Azure Stack for secure environments

Another scenario that Azure Stack is ideal for is organisations that want and need the scalability that Azure (public) provides, but in a private, certified, highly secure environment. In my last post it was pointed out that one of the blockers to using public cloud (in spite of security improvements) are the very real issues of data governance and security. For those organisations that have applications they want to scale and manage in a cloud environment but require a level of governance and security, mandated by local or global standards (PCI, FSA, SOX etc.,) Azure Stack provides that capability. Not only can this be done within a datacentre but with the use of Azure Stack appliances the ‘private environment’ on which an application, service or data resides can be physically and easily moved to any secure location as required.

Of course, once in this environment, there’s nothing to prevent a company, local public sector organisation, or bank from shifting from a private to a public model. Azure Stack gives an organisation a pathway to a public model, if and when they choose to, at any point in the future. An obvious use case would be for emergency services or for bodies such as the UNHCR or Red Cross. They can move an Azure Stack appliance with the necessary SaaS services and applications on it to the disaster hit region. This gives them a secure cloud environment in which to work, but with the ability to burst into the cloud to offer a ‘public’ facing web application, for example, to allow refugees to sign up for services or to collect data.

[easy-tweet tweet=”Azure Stack gives an organisation a pathway to a public model” user=”PulsantUK” hashtags=”tech, cloud”]

Azure Stack for hosting companies

Hosting companies and managed service providers have a unique opportunity in differentiating their services leveraging Azure Stack. The world of third-party hosted virtual machines has quickly become a commoditised market as organisations have spun up datacentres, calling themselves “cloud providers,” and effectively just hosting virtual machines. Azure Stack will allow hosting and managed service providers to provide such an environment and to differentiate themselves from their competitors. This is especially relevant as increasingly enterprises are beginning to realise that scalability and agility are of paramount importance, and these in turn are dependent on having a secure, private and above all a consistent platform that spans both public and private clouds

Conclusion

[easy-tweet tweet=”Azure will provide highly scalable and globally distributed public cloud services” user=”PulsantUK” hashtags=”tech, cloud”]

When you look at the current cloud landscape and the main players (Google, AWS, Microsoft Azure) it is clear that Azure Stack will give Microsoft a unique position in the marketplace. Azure will provide highly scalable and globally distributed public cloud services while Stack provides organisations with the ability to run the exact same applications, capabilities, and cloud scalable and redundant services on-premises. For hosting providers, this will be  a very easy way to extend reach globally by deploying Azure Stack appliances anywhere in the world, be that datacentres or on customers sites, and to manage those private clouds as one seamless Azure environment – one CONSISTENT and seamless Azure environment.