Microsoft updates Azure Stack preview with promised services

Microsoft is making previews of some services for its Azure Stack hybrid preview. It's also offering a roadmap for Windows Azure Pack, a predecessor to Azure Stack.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

A couple of weeks after making available a first technical preview of its Azure Stack hybrid cloud environment, Microsoft has provided the promised service previews for Azure Stack.


"Today we're making additional Azure PaaS (platform as a service) services and DevOps tools available for you to deploy and run on top of your Technical Preview deployments," said the Azure Stack team in a February 8 blog post.

The tools and services available today include:

  • Web Apps feature in Azure App Service
  • SQL and MySQL database resource providers
  • Updated Azure software development kit, including PowerShell support and cross-platform CLI support
  • Native Visual Studio support for Azure Stack

The Web Apps and SQL/My SQL PaaS services are in "early preview," the team notes, so that user feedback can be incorporated before Microsoft releases the next preview of Azure Stack.

Azure Stack is a stack of technologies Microsoft is designing for customers and partners to run in their own datacenters on their own hardware. Azure Stack includes "experiences" and programming interfaces that Microsoft offers via its own Azure public cloud.

In related news, Microsoft last week made available a roadmap for Windows Azure Pack, a close cousin to Azure Stack. Azure Pack, which runs on top of Windows Server and System Center, is/was an earlier attempt by Microsoft to provide large customers and hosters with a way to create an Azure-like environment in their own datacenters.

According to the Windows Azure Pack (WAP) roadmap, Microsoft plans to continue to deliver quarterly update releases for WAP, both in terms of new features and fixes. WAP will be updated with Windows Server 2016 and System Center 2016 later this year.

Mainstream support for Azure Pack ends July 11, 2017, the same time that mainstream support for System Center 2012 R2 ends. But extended support, meaning the period during which Microsoft will continue to deliver security updates, won't end for Azure Pack and System Center 2012 R2 until July 12, 2022.

It sounds like Microsoft is working on some kind of migration tools and technologies to go from Azure Pack to Stack.

"Azure follows a distinctly different design pattern than virtualization-centric solutions (based on Windows Server Hyper-V and System Center infrastructure). We are working on solutions to help customers and partners bridge from one architecture to the other; for example, Hyper-V virtual machines offered in IaaS modes may be portable," the roadmap says.

While Microsoft's first preview of Azure Stack required Windows Server 2016 Technical Preview 4, the company's ultimate goal is for Azure Stack to deploy directly on the metal. Like Azure itself, Azure contains some Windows Server technologies at its core.

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