We’re pleased to announce the next step in delivering the power of Azure in your datacenters: Azure Stack Technical Preview 2! Since we released the first Technical Preview, we’ve been blown away by the conversations with customers about the solutions they want to build and the problems they want to solve with Azure Stack. They see Azure Stack as a natural extension of the Azure environment. It enables them to implement new solutions to meet their business challenges and address the root causes of Shadow IT. Because Azure Stack is truly consistent with Microsoft Azure, it can be used in situations where business goals bump up against business realities such as regulatory constraints, data sensitivity concerns, latency, and custom functionality requirements. A consistent cloud platform means that applications, processes and skills can be equally applied without translation between environments – paving the way for the cloud IT revolution to take place behind the corporate firewall as well.
Many of the ideas we hear from customers come from industries that are not the first-in-line users of the public cloud. Think heavily regulated financial institutions, manufacturing companies with factory floors in remote locations, or cruise ship companies with data-intensive applications that need to run, literally, in the middle of the ocean. What this diverse set of customers all have in common is the desire to harness the rapid innovation of the public cloud and extend its capabilities to the places where they need it to unlock new business opportunities.
Azure Stack enables lots of application patterns but the one that has got developers and business leaders most excited is the new hybrid application pattern. This pattern delivers a solution designed from the beginning to span Azure and Azure Stack to deliver the best of both worlds. Using this pattern developers gain access to resources in real time and low risk, and IT business planners can blend cost models to best satisfy their customer expectations and effectively manage bottom lines and business rules. A consistent application platform available both in the public cloud and their own datacenters is what makes all the difference here. Consider a global app rollout; with consistency, an application can be designed to have components deployed in different ways, yet maintain uniform behavior and management with no extra work. It could now be that in the US components deploy to Azure. When the same app is deployed in Germany, where privacy rules diverge from the US, components could deploy to private datacenters or a local service provider datacenter, and so on. Only the combination of Azure and Azure Stack delivers this.
Onboarding new Azure services
We have learned a lot running a global scale public cloud. As my buddy Mark Russinovich says, when it comes to cloud computing, the only constant is change. Azure itself is built in a way that provides a continuous flow of innovation and agility both quickly rolling out new technology to drive new value creation for our customers. The ability to easily onboard new services and extend your cloud environment is one of the key value propositions of Azure Stack. With the TP2 release, we’ve added new foundational services (in the box), including Azure Queue storage for application messaging and Azure Key Vault for managing application secrets. We will also be sharing new updates for additional services, such as App Service in the coming weeks. In each case, the design point is for seamless on-boarding and updating of these services.
Azure inspired cloud infrastructure management
With Azure Stack our goal is to enable enterprises and service providers to take advantage of that same flexibility operating Azure Stack that we’ve built in Azure. Accordingly, this release includes significant investment into the provider functionality and experience for Azure Stack.
Azure changes constantly with updates and new services and has gotten very good at introducing change without drama or outages. We’ve begun the work of building the Azure operational processes into the platform in such a way that applying these updates should be intuitive. We believe it’s paramount that existing IT personnel bring their skills and expertise to bear on creating the next generation of cloud solutions. With TP2, we introduce the infrastructure management technologies used to manage Azure Stack. This release contains a version of the management technologies scoped to a single server deployment so that cloud owner/operators can begin to see how the system works. We will continue to enhance this functionality in subsequent technical previews and post GA.
A single server that packs a punch
The one-node, proof-of-concept, deployment configuration remains the most expeditious way to experience Azure Stack ahead of the commercially available integrated systems. You can install the Technical Preview 2 on a single server to explore, learn about, and prepare for the power of Azure services in your datacenter. We will continue to make available the single server option even after the integrated systems are released with general availability. We firmly believe that the one-node POC is an important part of the overall Azure Stack experience and will continue to play a role in solution prototyping, learning and demonstration scenarios.
This is a very exciting moment for our team and we hope for all of you as well! This release reinforces that as Azure functionality grows over time, so do the capabilities of companion Azure Stack clouds. We’re looking forward to a great week at Microsoft Ignite in Atlanta where we can share the progress with you and listen to your feedback on what is exciting and what else you’d like to see in Azure Stack.