Azure Stack


What is Azure Stack?

The simple answer is that Azure Stack brings Azure to your Data Center, but what does that mean?

Azure is a Cloud computing service and by definition that must mean it has all the characteristics of Cloud:

Self Service on Demand use of compute resource

The pooling of resources, or multi-tenanted

Elasticity or rapid Scalability of services up or down

Quantifiable units of consumption of resource

With Azure in your Data Center you have created your own Private Cloud with all the above attributes. This Private Cloud can be used by Enterprises and Organisations as their owned Data Center or it can be utilised through Service Providers that offer Azure Stack based Cloud Services to their clients.

Microsoft first offered Private Cloud with Windows Azure Pack, making use of Hyper-V and System Center. At Vigilant.IT we have designed and built some of the largest Azure Pack based Private Clouds in Australia for the Service Provider community. Azure Pack whilst offering a true Private Cloud is however fundamentally different to Azure Public Cloud and whilst the two can be connected to form a Hybrid Cloud there are immediate issues such as System Center as used to manage Azure Pack cannot really manage resources in the Azure Public Cloud.

Azure Stack provides a subset of Azure Public Cloud services as software that can be deployed in Enterprise and Organisations Data Centers or in Data Centers run by Service Providers, as shown below.

With Azure Stack we now have the ability to create a truly consistent Hybrid Cloud that lets your Azure Stack based on-premises environment or Service Provider environment take advantage of the innovation and agility that Azure Cloud technologies offer, no matter where that resides.

This approach brings with it a number of benefits, for example: You can now move workloads (Applications and Data) between Azure Stack and Azure Public. Furthermore, Azure Stack includes Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS) options, so developers can create applications using both approaches without being concerned where the application will run. Organisations can easily balance their workloads across Private Cloud on premise, Private Cloud with a Service Provider and Public Cloud with Microsoft.

Managing your infrastructure gets simpler. Microsoft has run a Public Cloud for many years, and they have learned a great deal about how to build and manage Cloud infrastructure. Azure Stack brings this expertise to Enterprises and Service Providers, letting you benefit from that experience. In much the same way Vigilant.IT have gained knowledge of deploying in and building Azure Pack and Azure Public. This expertise is tried and tested in our own development environment.

The services provided in the first release of Azure Stack include the following:

  • Compute:

    Provides Azure Virtual Machines (offering Windows and Linux VMs on demand) and VM Extensions (allowing VM customization).
  • null

    Storage:

    Provides Blobs (for storage of unstructured data), Tables (a NoSQL key/value store), and Queues (letting cloud software communicate via messages).
  • Networking:

    Provides Virtual Networks (allowing the creation of isolated networks in the cloud), Load Balancers (for spreading requests across replicated instances of an application), and VPN Gateway (allowing connections among virtual networks and more).
  • null

    PaaS application platforms:

    Provides App Service (supporting Web Apps, Mobile Apps, and API Apps created using .NET, Java, PHP, or other technologies) and Service Fabric (providing a foundation for microservices applications).

  • Security:

    Provides Key Vault (for securely storing encryption keys).
  • Automated deployment and more:

    Provides Azure Resource Manager (exposes RESTful APIs to Azure Stack services and allows creating templates to automate deployment of Azure re-sources).
  • Management:

    Includes Azure Stack Portal (providing a graphical tool for working with Azure Stack services) and support via Azure Resource Manager for other clients (Visual Studio, PowerShell, and a command-line interface (CLI) for Linux, Macintosh, and Windows).

When you deploy Azure Stack, your computing resources are grouped into regions, as shown be low and in much the same way as Azure Public Cloud, computing resources are organised into regions like Australia East and Australia Southeast.

When deploying, Azure Stack an organisation might have just a single region, like the service provider, or it might have multiple regions, like the enterprise shown in the figure above. You architect your deployment in the way that best fits your organisation’s needs. While the initial Azure Stack release will have some constraints, regions are designed for large-scale use. For instance, a single region can potentially include multiple data centers, with Azure Stack hiding the seams between them.

+ Azure Stack

The simple answer is that Azure Stack brings Azure to your Data Center, but what does that mean?

Azure is a Cloud computing service and by definition that must mean it has all the characteristics of Cloud:

Self Service on Demand use of compute resource

The pooling of resources, or multi-tenanted

Elasticity or rapid Scalability of services up or down

Quantifiable units of consumption of resource

With Azure in your Data Center you have created your own Private Cloud with all the above attributes. This Private Cloud can be used by Enterprises and Organisations as their owned Data Center or it can be utilised through Service Providers that offer Azure Stack based Cloud Services to their clients.

Microsoft first offered Private Cloud with Windows Azure Pack, making use of Hyper-V and System Center. At Vigilant.IT we have designed and built some of the largest Azure Pack based Private Clouds in Australia for the Service Provider community. Azure Pack whilst offering a true Private Cloud is however fundamentally different to Azure Public Cloud and whilst the two can be connected to form a Hybrid Cloud there are immediate issues such as System Center as used to manage Azure Pack cannot really manage resources in the Azure Public Cloud.

Azure Stack provides a subset of Azure Public Cloud services as software that can be deployed in Enterprise and Organisations Data Centers or in Data Centers run by Service Providers, as shown below.

With Azure Stack we now have the ability to create a truly consistent Hybrid Cloud that lets your Azure Stack based on-premises environment or Service Provider environment take advantage of the innovation and agility that Azure Cloud technologies offer, no matter where that resides.

This approach brings with it a number of benefits, for example: You can now move workloads (Applications and Data) between Azure Stack and Azure Public. Furthermore, Azure Stack includes Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS) options, so developers can create applications using both approaches without being concerned where the application will run. Organisations can easily balance their workloads across Private Cloud on premise, Private Cloud with a Service Provider and Public Cloud with Microsoft.

Managing your infrastructure gets simpler. Microsoft has run a Public Cloud for many years, and they have learned a great deal about how to build and manage Cloud infrastructure. Azure Stack brings this expertise to Enterprises and Service Providers, letting you benefit from that experience. In much the same way Vigilant.IT have gained knowledge of deploying in and building Azure Pack and Azure Public. This expertise is tried and tested in our own development environment.

+ Services

The services provided in the first release of Azure Stack include the following:

  • Compute:

    Provides Azure Virtual Machines (offering Windows and Linux VMs on demand) and VM Extensions (allowing VM customization).
  • null

    Storage:

    Provides Blobs (for storage of unstructured data), Tables (a NoSQL key/value store), and Queues (letting cloud software communicate via messages).
  • Networking:

    Provides Virtual Networks (allowing the creation of isolated networks in the cloud), Load Balancers (for spreading requests across replicated instances of an application), and VPN Gateway (allowing connections among virtual networks and more).
  • null

    PaaS application platforms:

    Provides App Service (supporting Web Apps, Mobile Apps, and API Apps created using .NET, Java, PHP, or other technologies) and Service Fabric (providing a foundation for microservices applications).

  • Security:

    Provides Key Vault (for securely storing encryption keys).
  • Automated deployment and more:

    Provides Azure Resource Manager (exposes RESTful APIs to Azure Stack services and allows creating templates to automate deployment of Azure re-sources).
  • Management:

    Includes Azure Stack Portal (providing a graphical tool for working with Azure Stack services) and support via Azure Resource Manager for other clients (Visual Studio, PowerShell, and a command-line interface (CLI) for Linux, Macintosh, and Windows).
+ Deployment

When you deploy Azure Stack, your computing resources are grouped into regions, as shown be low and in much the same way as Azure Public Cloud, computing resources are organised into regions like Australia East and Australia Southeast.

When deploying, Azure Stack an organisation might have just a single region, like the service provider, or it might have multiple regions, like the enterprise shown in the figure above. You architect your deployment in the way that best fits your organisation’s needs. While the initial Azure Stack release will have some constraints, regions are designed for large-scale use. For instance, a single region can potentially include multiple data centers, with Azure Stack hiding the seams between them.


If you would like to know more about Azure Stack please contact us for a demonstration or design session with one of our certified Azure Architects.