What You Need to Know Before Deploying on Azure Stack

Azure Stack has earned its buzz.

At a time when the majority of enterprises are pursuing a hybrid cloud strategy, Azure Stack offers the only truly consistent hybrid solution on the market. Azure Stack’s “unique cloud capability,” according to Gartner, will “create new opportunities for service providers to extend their portfolios,” while Forrester expects it to “spark a jump in hybrid cloud computing” before 2019.

But Azure Stack isn’t ideal for every workload or organization. At Rackspace, we have deep experience with the leading public and private clouds, including Azure and Microsoft Private Cloud, and we’ve detailed the issues you’ll need to evaluate in a recent white paper, “Practical Considerations With Rackspace and Azure Stack Hybrid Cloud.”

Let’s take a quick look at two of these issues: the small but significant gap between Azure and Azure Stack, and the IT capabilities Azure Stack requires.

Key differences between Azure and Azure Stack

Microsoft has committed to feature parity between its publc and private clouds where it makes sense, but Azure Stack still lacks several features currently available on Azure. Other features may never be released because of hardware requirements.

Key Azure features now available in Azure Stack:

  • A, Av2, D, Dv2 and F series virtual machines
  • Azure Virtual Networks, Load Balancer and VPN Gateway
  • Azure Functions
  • Azure App Services
  • Blob, Queue and Table Storage
  • Managed Disks
  • Containers and AKS
  • Key Vault
  • Azure Backup
  • Azure Site Recovery
  • Marketplace Syndication With Public Azure

And be sure to check out the Azure Stack Roadmap, which gives you a six-month preview of feature updates and new capabilities.

Azure Stack IT capability requirements

Even if it looks like the Azure Stack features portfolio is a good fit for your organization, you’ll still need to consider its requirements, including management, capacity and backup.

  • Ongoing management. With public Azure, cloud operations are handled by Microsoft; with Azure Stack, you’ll have to operate and manage the environment yourself. That includes monitoring workloads, capacity planning, monthly patching and a host of other requirements. Additionally, Azure Stack will be evolving at a rapid pace to stay aligned with public Azure, and new features must be configured as they’re released. As Azure Stack allows you to provide Azure services from within your data center, you’ll need to be able to run and operate your own cloud environment.
  • Capacity planning. The cost-effectiveness of Azure Stack is heavily influenced by hardware utilization. Exceeding capacity can impact your bottom line and jeopardize application performance. Microsoft’s Azure Stack Capacity Calculator will help you choose the right Azure Stack hardware configuration for a hybrid or private cloud environment.
  • Backup. Azure Stack comes with a built-in backup feature for the system configuration and service data: Infrastructure Backup Service. It allows you to redeploy your environment with the existing configuration in the event of catastrophic loss. But note that it does not include the virtual resources your users may have created, so you’ll need to have another solution in place if you’re running production workloads in your environment.

Get the full story on Azure Stack

There’s a lot more to about think about as you weigh a transition to Azure Stack, which we cover in our new white paper, “Practical Considerations With Rackspace and Azure Stack Hybrid Cloud.”

Need help deploying and managing Azure Stack? Please reach out to us. Rackspace has been closely involved with Azure Stack ever since Microsoft’s first technical preview, and we operate one of the largest Azure managed services practices in the world.

Click to learn more about Rackspace Private Cloud Powered by Microsoft Azure Stack, or call us at 1-844-675-1140.

Amanda Clark is the product manager for Microsoft Private Cloud solutions at Rackspace, including Microsoft Azure Stack and Hyper-V. She has been a Racker since 2008 and has more than 17 years of experience in the IT industry. Amanda lives in Blacksburg, VA with her family, and you can also find her on LinkedIn.


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