When Azure Stack was launched, it was with the promise of bringing innovation at the speed of the Public Cloud to on-premises environments, and boy is it delivering. In the last few weeks alone, announcements have included:
Azure Stack 1804 Update was released, bringing features like:
- Visual Studio support for Azure Stack in disconnected scenarios using ADFS
- Av2 and F Series Virtual Machines
- Update to the SCOM Management Pack
- New Azure Stack PowerShell version
Azure Stack App Service Update 2 was released, bringing features like:
- Auto swap of deployment slots
- Testing in Production
- Azure Functions Proxies
- Updates to .Net Core support, NodeJS, and NPM versions
- Secret and Certificate rotation for admins
… and more besides.
Azure Stack is here to stay, and it’s growing and maturing much more rapidly than any on-premises solution ever has before. As ever though, the goal of Azure Stack is not to replace Azure, it’s to extend it to wherever Azure cannot go.
I talk to a lot of companies who specialise in delivering services from Azure, who are almost unanimously of the opinion than Azure Stack is there to enable hosting service providers to compete with Azure, or that they’ll never need to touch Azure Stack because they have Azure and it’s ‘better’.
To very quickly recap where I see Azure Stack actively being used today:
- Disconnected, low bandwidth, or high latency environments where access to Public Cloud is difficult or impossible.
- Highly regulated environments where data cannot leave an organisation’s premises, or cannot be managed by a company headquartered in the US.
- Where Azure Services are wanted, but the services cannot rely on connectivity outside of a building.
- e.g. a hospital may not trust connectivity to Azure with patients’ lives, but may make use of Azure Stack for some application purposes and Azure for others, with a common application and management model across platforms.
- Where a system of record on premises cannot move to Azure, but application innovation around it is desired.
- e.g. a large mainframe, or a heritage system that cannot move but still stores masses of valuable data.
- Azure Stack can deliver Azure innovation to that data within existing four walls.
- As a stepping stone to Azure. Sometimes moving to Azure doesn’t make sense until all applications or application components can be moved, so Azure Stack is used as an interim modernisation step within a datacentre. Once all modernisation activities are completed, the workload is moved to Azure.
- Typically in this scenario, an Azure Stack is not purchased, instead a Service Provider’s multi-tenanted Azure Stack is used in conjunction with co-location services.
All of these are scenarios that exist today and which are causing companies very real pain, but the reality is that the born in the cloud service providers aren’t necessarily in a position to help with them. Most born in the cloud providers have no datacentre facilities, and no large capex budget to buy into Azure Stack themselves, so most of them gloss over customers with these problems and focus on those who they can move straight to Azure today.
The Azure Stack Early Adopter Initiative was originally called ‘The Azure Stack Early Adopter Initiative for Service Providers’ for very good reason. Azure Stack needs high quality datacentre facilities to operate within, in areas where Azure does not, so it’s the traditional datacentre hosting industry that’s best placed to deliver on its promise. I firmly believe that those service providers who invested into Azure Stack in its infancy have now sewn up those regions into where they’ve deployed. There isn’t a need for multiple Azure Stack providers in a small region, so those who have held off ‘until it’s ready’ have simply allowed their competitors to gain a probably insurmountable lead in knowledge, market share, and mindshare.
In the UK, if you are an Azure services provider and any of the above scenarios resonate with you and your customers but you can’t deliver Azure Stack yourself, I wholeheartedly encourage you to get in touch to see how we can help. At Pulsant we’ve developed a fully rounded partner programme around Azure Stack, both for multi-tenanted purposes in our datacentres and for single-tenanted purposes either in our DCs or on customer premises.
451 Research published research earlier this year indicating that 48% of large and multi-national enterprises intend to will use Azure Stack services either to complement existing on-premises infrastructure, or as a stepping stone to public cloud. Microsoft’s strategy revolves around the Intelligent Cloud and the Intelligent Edge, with Azure Stack being the major enabler for edge scenarios. Working with Pulsant, born in the cloud Azure providers no longer have to leave the money that those opportunities represent on the table.
If you want to chat more around the hybrid cloud opportunity, then drop me a line on Twitter @KennyLowe, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.