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Thursday, August 11, 2016

Microsoft explains why Azure Stack will initially work on only a handful of servers

Vijay Tewari, principal group program manager, Enterprise Cloud Solutions
Vijay Tewari, principal group program manager, Enterprise Cloud Solutions.

Microsoft today explained its reasoning for restricting the forthcoming Azure Stack to servers from Dell, HPE and Lenovo — a restriction that caused some consternation among potential customers when it was announced last month.

In online comments, those customers made it clear they’d prefer to use the hardware already in house, rather than having to buy anew in order to take advantage of Azure Stack.

Azure Stack promises to bring the power of the Azure cloud onto customers’ premises. It’s a key part of Microsoft’s hybrid approach to cloud computing.

“Azure Stack is a brand-new product, and along with it comes a responsibility to keep it updated at the pace of Azure services,” said Vijay Tewari, who runs the team building it, during an 11-minute video. “That means new services emerging all the time, and existing services being updated. For that approach to be workable, we need hardware we know well, where we know what version of firmware needs to be run. That is not feasible on systems we have never seen before. The variety of systems people have in data centers is huge.”

Updates must be validated so that workloads don’t go down, which requires “continuous validation of the system,” Tewari said.

The servers Azure Stack will work on aren’t terribly expensive or rare, he said. “They are industry standard, not high-spec or ‘gold-plated,'” he said. “With Microsoft and its partners taking the responsibility of keeping the systems up, customers will have to spend a lot less time validating them. They will get a much better operational cost compared to trying to build it themselves.”

Will customers ever be able to use Azure Stack on their own choice of servers, switches and other hardware? Perhaps, Tewari said.

“As we learn more, we can expand the diversity of hardware we run on, and eventually maybe even allow customers to run on hardware they already have,” he noted.

Azure Stack will be usable with as few as four servers, ensuring that customers needn’t spend more on hardware than necessary, Tewari said. It’s expected out in public Technical Preview 2 form later this year.

Here’s a link to the video.

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