Betting on Azure Stack: Why it can be a game changer

Azure Stack Technical Preview 3 was released recently. That made me kind of excited because I’ve been series editor for a number of free eBooks from Microsoft Press that have covered various System Center technologies, and Microsoft Azure Stack is basically an evolution of Microsoft’s previous Windows Azure Pack (WAP) while WAP itself was, of course, basically a combination of Windows Server, System Center, and Microsoft Azure technologies all rolled up together. Of course, Microsoft has been at pains to convince us that WAP has not actually been superseded by the newer and more powerful Azure Stack. For example, this blog post on TechNet says clearly that “Microsoft Azure Stack is not the new version of Windows Azure Pack” and that the “Azure Stack release in 2017 won’t kill WAP” and that “they will co-exist together for a long time” but we all know from experience that Microsoft quickly loses interest in older technologies they’ve developed once they’ve released something new that seems to catch on with their customers. Besides, the newer Azure Stack has some definite advantages over the older WAP bundle of products, which was quite difficult to deploy and configure, as the series of articles I wrote concerning WAP a couple of years ago here on makes pretty plain.

But having moved on to other areas in my work, I’ve had to let go somewhat of what’s been happening with Azure Stack and where Microsoft might be taking this new platform, so to catch up a bit I recently interviewed Steve Buchanan, a regional solutions director with Concurrency, five-time Microsoft MVP, and author of several technical books focused on cloud and datacenter management. Steve is an expert in Azure Pack and other Microsoft technologies, and in his 17-plus years as an IT professional he has held positions ranging from infrastructure architect to IT Manager. His current focus is on transforming the position of IT into a strategic partner of the business and driver of digital transformation through ITSM, DevOps, and CloudOps. You can find out more about Steve and his activities from his website,where he blogs about his adventures in the world of IT, and you can also follow him on Twitter.

TECHGENIX: Hey, Steve, thanks for taking some time out of your busy schedule for us to interview you for TechGenix. How about starting off by taking us briefly through the history of Microsoft Azure Stack.             

betting on azure stack
Steve Buchanan

SB: It seems to be a better fit for larger enterprises due to the investment in hardware. However some smaller and midsized business can definitely benefit from it as well. Let’s say for example if you are one of those startup companies that is leveraging technologies to disrupt a market and part of those technologies are cloud but for whatever reason you can’t run your tech in the public cloud, you can use Azure Stack and have the same access to the technologies that are up in public cloud.

TECHGENIX: Can you integrate Azure Stack with a non-Microsoft cloud solution like Amazon Web Services? Or will AWS customers be left out?

SB: Yes, you actually can! You have to do this via a third party company named Cloud Assert. They have an add-on for Azure Stack that allows you to run your IaaS on Amazon AWS.

TECHGENIX: Neat! So what capabilities would you most like to see incorporated into Azure Stack that currently aren’t present?

I believe we are going to see some amazing scenarios lit up from both Microsoft and from customers pushing the boundaries of Azure Stack and hybrid cloud — Steve Buchanan

SB: I would personally like to see Azure Automation and DevTest Labs come down to Azure Stack.

TECHGENIX: I agree that would be awesome, and knowing Microsoft, it is probably already underway. But to end off here, where do you think Microsoft might be heading in the future with their hybrid cloud offerings? Is Azure Stack the last word or do you see more evolution coming in this technology area?

SB: Azure Stack is only the beginning. Azure Stack is an extension of Azure and therefore it is adding a whole new platform to your datacenter. I believe we are going to see some amazing scenarios lit up from both Microsoft and from customers pushing the boundaries of Azure Stack and hybrid cloud. I like to compare Azure Stack to the introduction of PowerShell. Like PowerShell, Azure Stack is going to be a game changer. For anyone: IT pros, devs, DevOps folks out there that are not already exploring Azure Stack, I would get in on this hot new technology now. There is something in hybrid cloud for everyone, and IT will be a good career move for you.

TECHGENIX: That certainly sounds like good news for those still making their way with IT as a career. Thanks a lot Steve for talking with us and all the best with all your future endeavors!


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