Azure Stack is Finally Here — What’s Next?

After a lot of anticipation and speculation, Microsoft Azure Stack was formally released Monday at the annual Inspire conference in Washington, D.C.

For those of you who don’t follow Microsoft closely, Azure Stack is their solution for customers who want to consume Microsoft Azure public cloud services but need the added security, customization and control that comes with a private cloud.

If you’re in an industry with strict regulatory requirements such as healthcare or financial services, this is great news — you now have access to powerful Microsoft cloud services that were previously unavailable due to security and compliance concerns. But the benefits don’t stop there.

Because it uses much of the same code base as the Azure public cloud and has the same user interface, Azure Stack is (and will continue to be) appealing to a wide variety of businesses with legacy applications or existing data stores that require single tenant infrastructure. These businesses were previously unable to utilize the power and efficiency of the Azure public cloud. Azure Stack changes all that.

Here’s how I see this new technology playing out over the coming months and even over the next couple of years. Spoiler alert, it’s probably not what you were expecting…

For starters, the release this week is by no means a full GA release. Azure Stack as it was released at Inspire is core functionality that will be added to over time from Microsoft — similar to how Microsoft would add Features to SharePoint. The difference is that Microsoft will be managing the update process.

The announcement at Inspire made Azure Stack available to it’s OEM providers to certify on their gear. Microsoft has stated that they expect the first stacks to role off the lines and be available for customers in early September.

So, what do you do between now and when the multi-node Azure Stacks are available?  That’s an easy one — you start working immediately with the single node deployment. This will allow you to figure out how to get your application(s) to work in Azure Stack.

That work is the same if you’re using one server or one hundred servers. The only difference a single server makes is that you won’t be able to test your application for performance — all your other work will be reusable.

A great way to give this process a try is through the Azure Stack proof of concept Rackspace began offering back in March. We have one node deployments available today that can be spun-up for you on dedicated gear within a number of hours.

Compare that to having to buy a new server, get it racked, cabled and then install Azure Stack. Rackspace will have this done for you within a number of hours and you can book these month-to-month, without long-term contracts.

If you’re really serious about deploying the world’s only true hybrid cloud, contact Rackspace today or visit us online for more information. Our Azure experts will walk you through the process and support you need, every step of the way.

Jeff is a chief technologist for Rackspace. He has been working with SharePoint since the early 2003 product year and is the architect and builder of Rackspace’s SharePoint support offering. Jeff has designed and installed over 150 SharePoint farms for companies ranging from small businesses to Fortune 100 firms. Today he is the GM of the Rackspace Microsoft Private Cloud group.

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