Azure Stack: Why You Should Be Excited

Let’s start this post with references to three, high quality information sources which will help build a theme.

The first, is Jeffrey Snover’s Azure Stack presentation from June of this year:

Azure Stack: It’s More Radical Than You Think

Snover states:

Azure Stack is new and you should not project your past experience onto it.

and later…

The cloud is a method, not a location…

The second is an article by David Linthicum titled, “Will your cloud smarts be rewarded?”

David states:

As a pattern, I see executive leadership promote those in IT who have the least vision and the greatest political instincts. Case in point: those who have been advocating for cloud computing internally for years not getting promoted or even recognized. In some cases, it has even negatively impacted their career.

Indeed, those in IT who have pushed back on cloud computing have generally held their position in the company’s IT department, or have even been promoted. In some cases, they have gotten credit for the movement to cloud, when they were actually an impediment.

And finally, there’s this article by James Beswick titled, “Slay The Beast: Fighting the Corporate Kraken with the Cloud

James states:

“…infrastructure is rarely connected to customer features, and it tends to be an area that’s horribly under-skilled in companies because good infrastructure people are hard to find. These trunks of code touch everything, change rarely and there’s risk in doing anything here. Yet this is the area where cloud has the most number of drop-in of alternatives.”

Yesterday at Microsoft Inspire, Azure Stack’s availability was announced.

This is a significant moment for the evolution of cloud adoption, regardless of which cloud platform you favor, because it helps us to address the problems identified by Linthicum and Beswick.

How will Azure Stack do this?

  • Enterprise IT will not engineer or deploy Azure Stack; it will be provided as a cloud appliance from a pre-approved set of vendors that directly ties your data center (Azure Stack) resources to Azure
  • The removal of a ‘build your own’ or bespoke option guarantees consistency across Azure Stack instances and Azure (portability) and eliminates the risk of unevenly skilled IT teams getting it wrong
  • Consistency is critical to the creation of an application ecosystem that just works (think: the Apple app store)
  • Azure Stack’s closed, consistent and immediately cloud-ready nature will force IT to change its operational model to be software and not infrastructure focused
  • Different skills will be required and those who don’t adapt will disappear from the industry or be relegated to the shadows of increasingly marginalized legacy systems which can’t immediately be turned off
  • Azure Stack will build cloud skills (Snover: ‘the cloud is a method, not a place’)

The soul-sapping problems and practices detailed by Linthicum and Beswick are made possible, in large part, by the server-fixated, customer needs unaware character of many enterprise IT shops.

One of the ways of addressing this is by changing the model from ‘rockstar’ or ‘guru’ or otherwise navel-gazing IT, building excessively complicated infrastructure in silos to IT as a utility.

This is the true value of cloud computing (and not simply hosting VMs off-site which is nothing more than the ‘someone else’s computer’ criticism often leveled at cloud technology).

Azure Stack will provide an on-premises gateway to cloud methods; accelerating the retirement of business as usual in IT and the beginning of an interesting and dynamic new stage.

Which is why I’m excited and it’s why I think you should be too.

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