This post was authored by the Azure Stack Team.
Building and deploying a hybrid cloud platform for your applications will make it easier for you and your business to build new applications that will add to the business’s topline. We continue to make progress on bringing Azure Stack to market and announced the third Technical Preview yesterday. We know many customers are eager to get started building solutions and applications for Azure and Azure Stack. We’ve put together a few tools and resources that can help them begin their work on Azure Stack now, so that they can be ready when Azure Stack is generally available later this year. In this blog post, We’re going to walk through the flow at a high level and provide some links to resources for anyone who wants to get going. Generally speaking, you need to: 1) get access to Azure; 2) Setup Azure Stack; 3) Get tools and configure policies in Azure; and 4) Start working.
Get into Azure
If you’re not already using Azure, the first thing to do is to sign up for an Azure Subscription. There are some nice benefits through the link that can get you going on up to 14 virtual machines, 40 SQL databases, or 8 TBs of storage for a month. Additionally, if you are already a Visual Studio subscriber, you can activate your monthly Azure credit.
Start using Azure Resource Manager
The key technology for how Azure and Azure Stack enable you to build once and deploy to either Azure or Azure Stack is Azure Resource Manager. Azure Resource Manager is a technology in Azure that helps you describe, deploy, and control your application resources in the cloud. It’s the same thing that we’re shipping in Azure Stack. To help you get started, read this whitepaper on how Azure Resource Manager works.
Learn about hybrid applications and think about use cases for your business
The next thing we recommend is that you really start envisioning and thinking about what you want to do. There are a ton of combinations for how and why you can use a hybrid cloud platform. Some are more process oriented, like Dev/Test in public cloud and deploy production in Azure Stack or Dev/Test in Azure Stack and deploy to production in public cloud. Others are more functional, like building a hybrid application where a part of the application resides in Azure and the other on-premises (e.g. a front-end in Azure and a back-end in Azure Stack).
Whatever your goal, we had Technical Fellows, Jeffrey Snover and Mark Russinovich, put some of their thoughts together in a video on what a hybrid cloud platform means in the big picture and illustrate what it can look like for your people, processes, and applications. There are a ton of demos throughout the video. In fact, one of the program managers who helped with the demos goes a little deeper into them in an additional session.
Get Azure Stack running for prototype validation
When we ship an Xbox, some time before the generally availability of the actual system, we release a developer kit that helps developers prototype their solution. The single server Technical Preview of Azure Stack can be used much in the same way. We’ve put a giant green download button on Azure so you can grab an Azure Stack “emulator” to validate the work you are doing in Azure. That said, you’ll need a physical server to run it (not a laptop) and then connect to it from your development environment (laptop). Run this script to make sure you have a machine that meets the spec. Once you have the server, downloaded Azure Stack, you can follow this step by step guide to get everything up and running. From there, you can configure Azure Stack to meet your needs, such as connecting tools, creating accounts, quotas, and operating system images in the marketplace.
Get Azure Stack Tools and configure Azure
To recap, we know what we want to build, we have a place to work in Azure, and we have an Azure Stack stood up to check our work. The next thing we need to do is get a few tools to help us work in Azure in a way that won’t cause us trouble later by using functionality that isn’t yet in Azure Stack. The main thing we need is the Azure Stack Policy module. This tool lets us configure an Azure Subscription with the same versioning and services as Azure Stack. What this means, is that when you try to create something in Azure that isn’t available on Azure Stack, you’ll get an error. As we continue with bringing API and Service consistency to Azure Stack through the development process, the delta of difference will close, but the policy module should help you get started now.
To help with how the policy module can be used in Azure, we got one of the Azure Stack PMs to sit down and do a video walking through it.
Start iterating and expanding
From there, you can start working to build your applications in Azure that you plan to run on Azure Stack later. As you become comfortable with the platform and tools, it will go a long way to start introducing new techniques, such as hooking up a Hybrid CI/CD pipeline. As you go, validate your work on the Azure Stack Technical Preview to ensure that you are not going “off the rails”.