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The Truth About Azure Stack

July 5, 2017

If you have any interest in technology advancements within the Microsoft world you will no doubt have heard of the Microsoft Azure Stack (Stack). Soon to launch and much hyped, the Stack is an on-premises and hybrid cloud platform that enables you to leverage much of Microsoft’s Azure functionality in your own data centres. Put simply, you can leverage many of the public cloud benefits, but on your own servers, with your data under your own control. Sounds good?  Well, it will be. Instead of traditional infrastructure and virtualisation options you will be able to leverage additional services and benefit from a level of elasticity, resilience, security and innovation that is truly ground-breaking.

However, while this all sounds great some consultants are rushing clients to move to the Stack. This is where some caution is needed when considering your strategic approach to the incorporation of Azure Stack into your organisation. Here are some facts that you need consider:

  1. Availability has not been announced formally but it has been talked about as ‘mid 2017’. There is no absolute certainty of when it will launch and when the certified hardware options are available with the pre-installed platform. Our indication from our partners at Microsoft and HPE is that this will not be before September.
  2. At ‘general availability’ (Microsoft’s term for “Version 1.0” or “launch”) the functionality set will be limited; this will include core Infrastructure as a Service functionality, some basic Platform as a Service options, and some preview offerings. Adopting Azure Stack means buying into the roadmap rather than having anything like the full public cloud functionality in your data centre on day 1.
  3. You can ONLY build the Technical Preview 3 today as a Proof of Concept (POC). Azure Stack POC must NOT be used as a production environment and should only be used for testing, evaluation, and demonstration – that means you should be very wary of anybody offering anything more than that!
  4. Specific hardware is required (Dell, HPE, Lenovo and Cisco later in the year). Whilst most of Microsoft’s hardware partners have already identified the hardware they will be offering Azure Stack on the pricing model, support options and Service Level Agreements are unknown – therefore difficult to budget and plan for at this early stage.
  5. Pricing will be an OpEx model, and will be lower than Azure Public (as hardware is not included) however each hardware partner will offer a slightly different service and the cost of the hardware will be baked into that.
  6. Geo-redundancy is not going to be available at launch – this is on the roadmap but is not going to permit different regions for redundancy yet (e.g. Jersey/Guernsey/Isle of Man/etc.)

At C5 we are working closely with our partners HPE and the Director of the Azure Stack Program at Microsoft, but given the timescales and lack of information currently available publicly, we believe the Stack should absolutely be on your radar and something you are preparing for – but not something you ‘sign up’ for immediately.

Next week C5 will be attending Microsoft’s World Partner Conference “Inspire” in Washington DC in force and look forward to sharing the latest news whilst we are there and on our return. Provided it’s not under NDA of course; we’re not permitted to share all the information we are provided but will always be happy to steer our clients in the right direction.

If you would like to talk about Azure Stack and how it could benefit your business, please email me and I’d be happy to have a chat with you.  Meanwhile avoid hype, avoid hard selling and make sure that Azure ends up stacked in your favour.  🙂