Azure Stack - From Appliance to Pack to Stack

Azure Stack – From Appliance to Pack to Stack

Third time’s a charm. Microsoft, back in May 2014 at the Ignite Conference, announced Azure Stack (or Azure, but from the safety of your own home datacentre). Stack will be the third evolution of their Azure for on-premises offering and will now overshadow the existing Azure Pack (which is more like a wrapper around System Center) and non existing Azure Appliance. This having been said, Microsoft will be running the Stack and Pack side by side, so you are not forced to jump ship to the next shiniest thing.

Late last month Microsoft announced the first technical preview of Azure Stack. Apparently it’s the only hybrid cloud platform that is consistent with the public cloud version. So, if you simply have to run a hybrid cloud, then this could bring you some consistency. It’s a case of ‘write once, deploy to Azure or Azure Stack’. Certainly the look and feel of the products are very similar and they share the same APIs and so on.

Azure Stack architecture summary

Azure Stack architecture summary

The folk at Microsoft get nearly 100,000 new subscriptions to Azure every month. Nice, but many businesses are still hung up on security concerns, or even data sovereignty situations, which means that they are not allowed to play in someone else’s cloud. Azure Stack will allow customers to run the services of Azure in their own cloud. This is all part of Microsoft’s commitment to becoming a cloud-first company, and this is despite the cloud offerings still being a smaller part of their revenue to date.

MS are going to continue adding services and content to Azure Stack over time. Services like Azure Machine Learning, Service Bus, or Azure SQL databases will get prioritised based on user feedback.


Ryan O’Hara of Microsoft said that Microsoft wants to enable what he called “one Azure ecosystem” that encompasses clouds and enterprise datacentres. Great for the future, but if you are happy with your Windows Server as is, it’s probably worth staying as you are for now. Certainly, if you do want to keep pace with Azure but not off premises, then crack open the technical preview.

Watch out OpenStack – there’s a new kid on the block.

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