If you haven’t heard yet, Microsoft’s Azure Stack was made available in preview-mode early February. I know what you might be thinking – “Another piece of cloud technology? I don’t have time to keep up with all this cloud stuff.” There is one major difference here: Azure Stack allows organizations to implement cloud architecture in-house, plugged right into their existing infrastructure. IT departments will be able to install and set up a flavor of Azure on their own hardware, and developers in the organization can adopt programming paradigms that are well suited for forward-thinking, distributed, scalable systems.
Common fears of moving to the cloud revolve around the loss of control, be it in the hardware, access, or security. More and more reports have been written specifically addressing these issues, but building trust for a new technology can sometimes only be accomplished by experiencing it in a way that you can fully touch and get your hands dirty with. If you’ve been tossing the idea around of modernizing any part of your software framework and moving to Azure, Azure Stack can be the impetus that gets you to take the first step. Your software can be re-tooled to adhere to the architecture and patterns of cloud design, and you won’t have to worry about moving your data beyond the doors of your office, since it will all be taking place in your current IT infrastructure.
Testing can proceed at the best pace for your organization, as you gain comfort and skill using your personal cloud. Eventually if (when) your need to scale out hardware outpaces the value of keeping it in-house, you can easily switch to using the full Azure Platform-as-a-Service options. Development tools like Visual Studio would remain identical: you would simply deploy the solution to Azure instead of Azure Stack. The same management and automation tools that the IT department had been using to maintain the Azure Stack machines will be used for Azure as well. Even if the ultimate decision is to keep your data in-house and not migrate to the cloud, your software and infrastructure are ideally now tuned for scalability and best suited to accommodate future growth demands.
What have your experiences using Azure Stack been like? Do you have strong opinions on cloud vs. on-premises software deployment? Please let us know by writing a comment below.
At the time of this writing, Virtual Machines, Virtual Networks and blob/table storage are available in the Azure Stack technology preview, with more features to be rolled out as they are ready for testing. The full release version of Microsoft Azure Stack is slated for Q4 of 2016.