On premise cloud? Azure Stack is here!!

Microsoft released public technical preview of Azure stack

It’s been almost a half decade since when public cloud became a well known term. AWS is still a champion when it comes to the public cloud, But Microsoft’s Azure just became no. 1 in cloud platform, by providing a way to run their infrastructure privately, on their own premise.

What is Azure Stack?

Azure Stack, to starts with, is a bundle of Azure Public cloud’s offerings brought to your privately owned data center. It allows you to use all of the Azure services starting from compute to relational and non relational Databases, storage, Azure active directory and back up mechnisams, everything you have been using on Azure’s public cloud.

Under the hood Azure Stack is running Microsoft’s Hyper-V, Windows, and Microsoft networking and storage, but you don’t see any of that. When you stop and think about it, you are “running Microsoft’s Azure in your datacenter!”

The Problem: Why Private Cloud?

Consider a corporate law firm having records of all of the clients and their private confidential information, that can turn the table in the court. Where would they store such information? Will they use public cloud for such data management? Another example is, CFO’s of some organisations never prefer putting their information on public cloud like AWS or Azure. It’s highly secured and managed solutions for all our infrastructure needs, And corporate firms uses them for all Human resources management apps, Accounting apps in Azure but, when you ask them about hosting such information in public cloud, they will cite the security, compliance, and assured reliability.

It is true that CFOs and Corporate firms don’t prefer to host such information to public cloud. They want data where company people have access to. They will never trust and they are right at their own place. Here’s where Azure stack comes in the picture.

If something very precious to you, would you store and save it outside of your trustable places? No, You don’t. You keep it where you trust, with you all the time. That’s how it works. You don’t put corporate and financial records on public cloud. You build your own datacenter to protect it.

The Solution: Azure Stack

Now you have to build your own infrastructure and it should support all of the fancy facilities provided by public cloud providers, if not that much, you are still remaining with Security, Scalability, Availability, Backup and Zero downtime.

We’ve thought of application scalability as “adding more servers.” If you need more power, you add more servers. A decade ago, that meant buying another physical server and putting it in a rack. With virtualization (VMware, HyperV, OpenStack), it has greatly simplified scalability because we could simply “spin-up” another virtual machine without having to immediately buy more hardware.

But, when you think about it on large scale, each and every time you spin up a new virtual machine, you have the underlying overhead of an operating system (Windows/Linux), likely an underlying core application (Microsoft SQL, MySQL, Oracle, Apache), and yet another “system” to patch, maintain, and manage. You also have the challenge of inserting a “node” into a clustered VM environment, and removing the node while keeping the application running continuously. How much overhead do you have today to simply run a Web application, or a Data storage application when you are running dozens of “virtual machines” to host the application.

Azure stack and even all public clouds take responsibility of such tadious tasks on their shoulder and provide a infrastructure as per our need, when we need. Azure Stack (and Azure public) still allows us to import virtual machines (Windows, Linux, etc) up into the environment and run VMs the way we’ve been doing for years with VM management, but you have the option of running Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) with VMs as well as Platform as a Service (PaaS), in company’s private data center, including the perk of using all of the Azure’s fancy services.

In Action: Azure Stack

Azure Stack in action

As you can see in the architectural diagram of Azure Stack, Your data center will use the Microsoft Azure to interact with your owned data center resources. So previously, you pay high enough to build a data center and invest in computing resources, but along with it, you also pay fees to get those costly softwares licensed. Here, Azure Stack will take care of everything. You will get licensed Softwares services and readymade templates to get things going in a small amount of time.

Azure public cloud web admin portal
Azure private cloud web admin portal

As you can see in previous two captured screenshots, it seems identical. With Azure Stack you’re able to use the same intuitive interface to deploy web applications, virtual machines, cloud databases and other services that you already use in public Azure.

If you’ve worked with Azure Resource Manager (ARM), then you have probably deployed services by using ARM JavaScript Object Notation (JSON) templates, and you’ve seen how powerful those are. The Azure development team hosts a bunch of Azure Stack QuickStart Templates at GitHub to give you a leg up on deploying services in your own Azure Stack private cloud.

Azure Stack deployment prerequisites

The Azure Stack host system requirements are unapologetically steep. Here are some “highlights”:

Image credit: Microsoft

You can see that it requires 4 physical disks, 96 GB of RAM, 12 physical core systems to get the Azure stack up and running.

In order to get the “Services on demand”, the idology behind the cloud platform, these requirement makes sense. It will gives you the ability to achieve what any public cloud host is providing.

So yes — you’ll need a firm bedrock of compute resources to allocate to your users’ platform-as-a-service (PaaS) and/or infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) requirements. You can download the Azure Stack Technical Preview installer package (a 10GB file) from the Azure website. The Technical Preview can be installed only in a single location.

It is believed that Azure Stack’s public version will allow the same kind of geo-redundancy as is found in public Azure. You can see real time Service Health Map to check your service availibity.


So should you use the Azure stack in the production now? No, Azure docs clearly states that Nobody should attempt to use technical preview in any kind of production capacity.

What you should be doing is, you should try it at your data center and get your infrastructure ready when it is publicly ready to use in production. If you are looking into private cloud with all public cloud feature, Azure Stack is going to be the only option. So better, you brush up your Azure skills, especially, if you are coming from the AWS background.