It's Game on for Azure Stack
Microsoft has a lot riding on the success of Azure Stack because it's the foundation of its true long-promised hybrid cloud platform.
The first Azure Stack appliances are set to ship this month from Dell EMC, Hewlett Packard Enterprise and Lenovo. Microsoft has a lot riding on the success of Azure Stack because it's the foundation of its true long-promised hybrid cloud platform.
Early signs suggest there's a lot of interest, even if actual production deployments are typically few and far between at first. Overall, I've heard much higher levels of enthusiasm about the potential of Azure Stack than I did five years ago when Microsoft launched Windows Azure Pack (WAP). The latter fell short for several reasons: Incentives for hosting providers and partners to deploy WAP weren't very compelling. Also, it only partially delivered on the promise of a hybrid cloud platform. WAP essentially provided a veneer over System Center to bring the Azure Portal to both Windows Server 2012 and Azure.
Unlike WAP, Microsoft says Azure Stack is the Microsoft Azure cloud scaled to run in enterprise datacenters, colocation facilities, and remote locations such as ships and oil rigs. Likewise, Azure Stack will allow a broad base of cloud services providers to deliver fine-tuned versions of Azure. That's not what WAP delivered, but, frankly, Azure itself was in a much different place back in 2012—it didn't even have Infrastructure as a Service yet.
The Azure cloud has come a long way since then and it appears so has Azure Stack. While WAP may have been ahead of its time, expectations for Azure Stack are much higher. If it falls short, it'll be a major blow to Microsoft.
Just like any other new technology, the proof will be in how well it works and its economic deliverables. Later this year and next year, respectively, Cisco and Huawei will deliver their Azure Stack solutions and customers will vote with their wallets.
Jeffrey Schwartz is editor of Redmond magazine and also covers cloud computing for Virtualization Review's Cloud Report. In addition, he writes the Channeling the Cloud column for Redmond Channel Partner. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreySchwartz.