Coming soon to a datacenter near you : Azure Stack

Hello Readers!

Since the announcement of the upcoming release of Microsoft Azure Stack during the Ignite event in Chicago earlier this month, many of you have been enquiring about where to learn more about the associated technologies, how to prepare, and when evaluating Azure Stack will be possible. This blog post will provide guidance on all these items.

What is Azure Stack?

Microsoft Azure Stack will bring proven innovation from Microsoft’s hyper-scale public cloud (Azure) into your datacenter, providing agility and productivity for application owners, flexibility and control for IT, and assurance that corporate assets are protected.

Using Azure Resource Manager, you get consistent application deployments every time, whether provisioned to Azure in the public cloud or Azure Stack in a datacenter environment. This approach is unique in the industry and gives your developers the flexibility to create applications once and then decide where to deploy them later - all with role-based access control and audit logging to meet your compliance needs.

Azure Stack also leverages a cloud-inspired infrastructure, packaging Microsoft’s investments in automated and software-defined infrastructure from our public cloud datacenters and delivers them to you for a more flexible and secure datacenter environment. Furthermore, Azure Stack will simplify the complex process of deploying private/hosted clouds based on our experience building the Microsoft Cloud Platform System, a converged infrastructure solution.

Where can I learn more about Azure Stack?

Here are few links:

What are the options to evaluate Azure Stack?

There will be a public preview of Azure Stack later during this calendar year, and we will announce more details at the time.

For service providers and enterprises looking to provide early feedback on Azure Stack and willing to partner more closely with us by allocating time and resources during the evaluation process, it is also possible to apply for the preview program which encompasses the next releases of Windows Server, System Center and Azure Stack. For this, you can get in touch with your current Microsoft account team contacts and refer to this blog post. They will reach out to us to get the nomination process started (you can name the author of this blog post). A final note: Azure Stack is part of the same preview program as Windows Server 2016 and System Center 2016, so if you are already part of that program, you're all set!

Is there anything I can do today to prepare?

Yes! In particular, Azure Resource Manager (ARM), Azure Portal and Azure IaaSv2 are available today in preview in Microsoft Azure. Which means you can learn ARM concepts and try to create a few templates (there are many samples to start from). And once you have access to Azure Stacks preview bits, you will be able to test the same template on premise as well, and provide us valuable feedback. Other items that you can research today would relate to how you can work with post-installation configuration and deployment steps in Azure today, for instance using VM Extensions. The scripts you create there would be reusable, and you could even use them today in your current post-provisioning processes like VM Roles in Windows Azure Pack. It may also be a good opportunity to evaluate using Desired State Configuration (DSC) for those scripts in VM extensions, if you haven’t had a chance to do so.

Thanks again for your interest in Azure Stack!

ECG CAT team and Azure Stack team