Microsoft readies new Azure Stack bundle for private cloud customers

Microsoft's Azure Stack combines elements of the Azure and Windows Server operating system platforms into a new offering for private cloud customers and hosting providers.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

Microsoft is rolling up a number of its cloud operating-system components into a new Azure Stack offering for hosting providers and businesses for running in customers' datacenters.

Azure Stack is a combination of Windows Server 2016, Azure Pack and Azure Service Fabric. Azure Pack is a set of Azure features that Microsoft makes available to its hosting providers and larger business users as a download that can run on top of Windows Server and Systems Center. Service Fabric is the new infrastructure technology Microsoft is building into Azure and Windows Server that will enable applications to be developed, deployed and managed in microservice form.

In many ways, Azure Stack is similar to an updated version of the operating system that Microsoft makes available on its Cloud Platform System (CPS) cloud-in-a-box appliances.

"With CPS, we took Hyper-V and Azure Pack and did all the heavy lifting to marry it with hardware," said Mike Schutz, General Manager of Microsoft's Cloud Platform Product Marketing. "With Azure Stack, we took our experience with us doing this ourselves and will deliver it on the hardware of customers' choice."

Azure Stack includes both Windows Server and Azure capabilities. Hyper-V and the Scale Out File server, as well as new storage and networking technologies coming in Windows Server 2016 are examples of Windows Server technologies in Azure Stack. From the Azure side, Azure Stack includes the updated Azure portal (formerly codenamed Ibiza) and infrastructure- as-a-service (IaaS) and platform-as-a-service (PaaS) technologies such as the Azure Resource Managerand Azure Resource Providers.

A preview of Azure Stack will be available later this summer, Microsoft officials said.

Microsoft will still continue to offer CPS systems for users who want a preconfigured appliance, Shutz said. A version of CPS based on Windows Server 2016 is in the works.

Microsoft also unveiled at Ignite the Microsoft Operations Management Suite, a set of Azure-hosted management services that can manage cloud services running not just on Azure and Windows Server, but also on AWS, Linux, VMware and/or OpenStack.

The Operations Management Suite, available immediately, brings together Operational Insights; Azure Automation; Azure Site Recovery and Azure Backup as one integrated suite. Microsoft plans to add more services to this bundle over time, Schutz said.

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