Throughout this Success with Hybrid Cloud series, I’ve emphasized the importance of linking private and public clouds – and Windows Azure Pack (WAP) is that link. WAP provides a consistent experience between Windows Azure and private clouds, and this allows service providers (hosters) and enterprises to offer their “customers” Windows Azure like capabilities, hosted within their own data center.
WAP leverages the same console and API technology used in Azure, and this brings a consistent platform of portal + API between private, public, and hosted clouds.
WAP offers a series of services to its consumers by providing an Azure-like experience that includes a consistent interface, as well as a common API, that enables a consistent way to consume these services. These services include, but are not limited to, IaaS, Web PaaS and Database as a Service (DBaaS).
The architecture of this consistent experience looks like this:
WAP architecture is an amalgamation of different web services which, when combined, offer an array of service layers.
There are two portals that makes up the WAP solution.
- Admin Portal
This portal lets you configure the different services offered via WAP, as well as defining plans (what services can be consumed and how much), and mapping these to subscriptions (who can consume services) so tenants can start using those services via the customer portal. The admin portal also offers the possibility to manage automation and metering for services consumed by customers. The admin portal resides inside the datacenter as an interface for WAP administrators.
- Customer (tenant) Portal
This portal allows tenants to consume services from WAP. These services include IaaS, Web PaaS, and DBaaS – and it enables 3rd party extensions to be used by customers. Using the WAP Tenant Portal, customers can manage these services in a way that’s very similar to how services are managed in Azure. The WAP portal experience is almost identical and offers very similar capabilities for the service listed above as in Azure.
To understand how these two portals look side-by-side, consider this illustration:
WAP is made of a series of sites and endpoints responsible for different functions. Each component (sites & endpoints) use web services (REST DATA). The WAP service can be illustrated in the following way:
The two WAP deployment options are:
- Express Deployment
- All WAP Portal and API services deployed on a single server
- Distributed Deployment
- Components are separated for security
- Increased numbers of servers to address performance
- Scale out all nodes for high availability
Windows Azure Pack and System Center
Windows Azure Pack uses System Center 2012 R2 for IaaS. Windows Azure Pack uses Service Provider Foundation (a new component in System Center) to manage IaaS. Service Provider Foundation (SPF) provides a multitenant interface to components of System Center. System Center uses SPF as an interface to communicate with Virtual Machine Manager and Operations Manager to deploy, manage, and delete VMs using VMM. System Center also uses SPF to extract usage from SCOM for metering and usage in WAP.
By using SPF, WAP can use multiple “stamps” and scale the environment when needed for IaaS service.
Windows Azure Pack Customization and Extensibility Capabilities
One of the strengths of WAP is its rich extensibility model. The different extensibility and customization capabilities include:
- Custom Management Portals
- Custom Theming
- Usage Service
- Custom Resource Providers
Custom Management Portals
While WAP provides a consistent UX with Windows Azure, you may want to use your own portal to offer cloud services to your tenants. WAP supports this setup and it allows organizations to build or use their own custom portals while leveraging the WAP Service Management API as it allows organizations to programmatically perform tasks that are accessible through the default WAP portals.
WAP allows you to customize the theming of the tenant site with your organization’s logo, colors, and icons. You can refer to this site for more details on WAP custom theming.
A very important aspect of the cloud services provided through WAP is that the consumption usage of those services and resources is captured – thus, service providers can extract that data for analytic purposes and for billing their tenants for the resources they consume.
While WAP does not provide an out-of-the-box implementation of a billing system, it does provide a Usage Service REST API. Service Providers can then develop a Billing Adapter that acts as the interface between the WAP Usage Service and the service providers own billing service.
Custom Resource Providers
WAP offers clouds services using Resource Providers. Out of the box, WAP includes the Web Sites, VM Clouds, SQL Server, My SQL and Service Bus Resource Providers. When these resource providers don’t provide the cloud services you would want to offer, WAP allows you to create Custom Resource Providers that can offer additional cloud services to your tenants by leveraging the Service Management API.
For more guidance on custom Resource Providers refer to the Windows Azure Pack Custom Resource Providers section in the Windows Azure Pack Developers Kit. For a jumpstart on using Custom Resource Providers go ahead and download, deploy and evaluate the “Hello World” sample that is included in the WAP Developers Kit.
Windows PowerShell support for WAP is provided in two different ways:
- Administrative tasks (such as feature configuration, plans, and resource management) are provided via the PowerShell cmdlets that are included when you install WAP.
- The PowerShell cmdlets for the management of tenant resources (available under a specific subscription) are included as part of the Windows Azure SDK and can be obtained from this link.
Windows Azure Pack has a list of partner solutions which enrich the experience for given scenarios. In particular, check out:
- Cloud Cruiser
Enables billing (Finance Management) for WAP Services which enable the service provider to bill for the services consumed by tenants. More info here.
For More Information:
- Windows Azure Pack Overview from the Building Clouds Blog.
- Windows Azure Pack: Installing & Configuring Series.
- Intro to Troubleshooting Installation & Configuration of Windows Azure Pack.
- IaaS Usage and Service Reporting using System Center 2012 R2 and WAP.
- Service Management Automation: Getting Started with SMA Runbooks.