Microsoft Azure Stack – A review
Azure Stack is the new private/hybrid cloud offering from Microsoft. Its beginning can be traced back to Windows Azure Pack (WAP), a bring-your-own-hardware private cloud solution. This implied that you could deploy it on your choice of hardware and be good to go. Though it had some problems, WAP differed in the fact that it was a more open strategy from Microsoft – that it did not force a vendor lock-in.
Now with Azure Stack, Microsoft has adopted a different strategy. The Azure Stack offering is suitable for enterprises that are predominantly Microsoft shops, and want to stay that way. Other small and big enterprises, especially those that already own commodity infrastructure, need to carefully weigh their options.
Let’s take a bird’s eye view of this product offering from Microsoft.
@ Hardware – Microsoft asks Azure Stack buyers to purchase hardware from three recommended partners – Dell, HPE and Lenovo. However, if you already have hardware suited to your needs from a vendor of your choice, a solution like Rovius Cloud might be able to provide more flexibility. This is because Rovius Cloud offers an abstraction away from specific hardware. It is truly a “bring-your-own-hardware” product.
@ Software – Azure Stack has the concept of an “integrated system”, which is very cohesive. This may be very apt for some enterprises, especially where there is no necessity to know what’s going on inside the software layer, and there are fewer moving parts that could break. For enterprises that have a heterogenous setup, a unified console that gives more visibility of the internals of their cloud infrastructure could be a life saver for them to provision their environment in the best manner, diagnose issues faster and make specific optimizations. Again, products such as Rovius Cloud provide added flexibility.
@ Pricing – If you are connected to the Azure public cloud, you can use their pay-as-you-use model. If not, another alternative is to use Microsoft’s native hourly meter to send statistical information continually to Azure. This way Microsoft can provide a consolidated bill of your usage. They also allow you to use existing Enterprise Agreements and Licenses obtained from them. Once more, this arrangement is appropriate when agreements with MS are already in place. But for enterprises that have additionally signed up for alternate public clouds and/or services, or those that have licenses from non-Microsoft vendors, this may become difficult to accommodate. What such businesses need is a cloud solution that assimilates all their existing software contracts and gives them flexibility of choice. With Rovius Cloud, all this can be achieved without discarding any pre-owned certificates and licenses.
Microsoft Azure Stack model could potentially work for enterprises that plan to use the Microsoft eco-system heavily – from public cloud, to services to hardware and licenses. For organizations that could feel slightly boxed-in by the constraints that this model comes with, Rovius Cloud is a viable, cost-effective and sustainable solution.