At an event earlier this year I was able to chat with individuals who are working closely with the Microsoft teams to produce a strategy around the company’s Hybrid Cloud offerings. Despite working on ways to bridge the gap between on-premises and Azure, the company has faced internal struggles as to which strategy is best. Microsoft first introduced the Azure Pack which provided a synching conduit between the on-premises and in-cloud realities. Last year, the company announced it would replace Azure Pack with Azure Stack. And, this is the crux of the struggle. Azure Pack connects the existing environment to the cloud while Azure Stack is a full-fledged layer that allows companies to run the cloud on-premises with special hardware. Azure Pack can run today, while Azure Stack takes significant expenditure, infrastructure, and investment.
The problem with the Azure Stack strategy has been that Microsoft has had no way to certify that existing hardware could run efficiently enough to be successful. Some thought that the company would reengineer its Azure StoreSimple solution to be used to deliver Azure Stack, but unfortunately, the solution has quietly disappeared into oblivion.
So, it’s interesting, but not surprising, to hear that Microsoft has both delayed Azure Stack until 2017 and is taking a different, more partner-agreeable approach to delivering it.
Mark Jewett, Senior Director Product Marketing, Cloud Platform Marketing has posted an article on the Microsoft blogs describing in more detail, the announcement made about this at WPC 2016.
According to the post, Microsoft will be tapping HPE, Dell, and Lenovo to start, to provide Azure Stack certified hardware and services to help companies create internal clouds based on Microsoft’s One Azure Ecosystem model:
As we shared today, we will prioritize delivering Azure Stack via turnkey integrated systems in the initial general availability release, combining software, hardware, support and services in one solution. We’ve been working with systems vendors on integrated systems for a while now and see this as the best approach to bring Azure innovation to customer datacenters reliably and predictably. We are co-engineering these integrated systems with Dell, HPE, and Lenovo to start.
Microsoft sits in a unique position against the likes of Amazon and Google, in that the software company sold to businesses for on-premises operations long before it began offering cloud solutions. Amazon, Google, and others have never had the experience of working directly with businesses, which is why both are having troubles making the huge inroads inside the corporate infrastructure. Even though Microsoft is coming from behind in the cloud wars, it is coming from a position of power that the other cloud providers just can’t muster. By allowing partners to provide the hardware and implementation services, Microsoft can move more quickly into position.
Incidentally, Microsoft didn’t touch on the future of the Microsoft’s Cloud Platform System’s Azure Pack. Azure Pack loses mainstream support on July 11, 2017, which could coincide with the official delivery of Azure Stack as a full-on replacement. However, extended support for Azure Pack reaches until July 12, 2022.
So, while Microsoft may have limited things to say about Azure Pack and Azure Stack at its mega-conference, Ignite, this year, IT/Dev Connections 2016 has plenty. Here's a couple examples: