Microsoft Wants To Bring Azure To Your Data Center

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Microsoft has always been big on the hybrid cloud, which is no surprise given its focus on enterprise customers. This week, however, it’s taking this idea even further with the announcement of the Microsoft Azure Stack. This new service extends Azure’s application development and deployment model to any data center, whether that’s an enterprise on-premise data center or that of a hosting company.

Azure Stack will bring Microsoft’s technologies for software-defined networking, pooling direct-attached storage, handling (and securing) virtual machines and monitoring this cloud to on-premise data centers. It’s essentially a new private cloud solution for IT pros and makes it easier for developers to scale their apps across their existing data centers and then boost to the cloud if they need more capacity on short notice.

Azure Service Fabric, Microsoft’s new service for running microservices, will run on Azure Stack, and developers can use the new Azure Resource Manager to consistently deploy applications to either the public Azure cloud or to an Azure Stack data center.

For now, the focus of Azure Stack is on running Windows and Linux virtual machines, though. That’s where Microsoft believes most of its enterprise customers still are (though containers are starting to make inroads there, too). Over time, Microsoft plans to bring more Azure services to Azure Stack, too.

The service will also integrate the Azure Preview Portal, so developers can self-provision the services they need on their local cloud (or burst up to the public cloud). The service is integrated with lots of enterprise billing solutions. Currently, enterprise IT regularly deals with groups that decide to route around it in order to provision cloud servers. With this new solution, developers shouldn’t have to do this anymore.

Microsoft general manager for cloud platform marketing Mike Schutz told me Microsoft wants to make the customer’s data centers the edge of its cloud and its customers should be able to think of Azure as the edge of their cloud.

Azure Stack will go into preview later this summer and should become generally available in 2016, once Windows Server 2016 becomes available, too.

Microsoft also today announced the Operations Management Suite. The idea here is to make it easier for IT to manage and monitor on-premise and cloud-based applications, no matter where they run and what they run on (Azure, AWS, Windows Server, Linux, VMWare and OpenStack). The company says the new tool integrates much of what the Azure team has learned from running its cloud.

The suite combines four services: log analytics, security tools, automation tools, and application and data protection services. Over time, Microsoft plans to add cloud-based patching, inventory, alerting and container management to the service, too.

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