Microsoft Azure Stack – We’re All In!

Today Microsoft announced Azure Stack Technical Preview 3 (TP3) – a major milestone in the journey to release the initial GA Azure Stack offerings with follow-on releases planned to further expand and enhance capabilities.  With this release, you’ll see a wide array of new capabilities to work with in order to learn about how to deploy this transformational set of technologies in your data center.

New features include Azure Virtual Machine Scale Sets, allowing users to start working at scale with big compute and big data projects.  Users in secure air-gapped environments will see the nascent beginnings of support for air-gapped environments with ADFS – a huge win for those operating in classified or otherwise secure environments.  Another transformative feature is Azure Marketplace Syndication, allowing Azure Stack users to consume applications and platforms made available through the Azure Marketplace.

And you can do all sorts of stuff that you couldn’t in Technical Preview 2.   Following TP3, serverless computing with Azure Functions will become reality.  Following Functions, Microsoft will allow for secure distributed ledgers with blockchain support webscale application development with Mesos, and (drumroll) Cloud Foundry support.

The Dell EMC difference

Along with all the new features in Technical Preview 3, the Azure Stack team at Dell EMC is working to bring to bear our experience building cloud platforms of all stripes to benefit our implementation of Azure Stack – simplifying the consumption and operation of on-premises cloud.  Our current Dell Hybrid Cloud System customers are already enjoying the streamlined, automated deployment of private cloud delivering rock-solid infrastructure as a service based on Hyper-V, System Center, and Windows Azure Pack.  And when it comes to updating all the components, they have a simple consolidated update payload to apply to their systems without disruption.  Of course, the Dell EMC Azure Stack platform takes those experiences to the next level – the integrated system based on hyper-converged infrastructure will extend and improve that model to include the network components as well as all of the new functionality inherent in Azure Stack.

This experience directly with Microsoft (and other) cloud platforms will decrease risk, complexity, cost of ownership and time to value for Dell EMC Azure Stack customers.

Beyond the benefits that our experienced core engineering team brings, we’re extending Azure Stack with our best in class data protection and security for running applications in any portion of the cloud with confidence;  incredibly important for any hybrid cloud initiative.

Cloud-native applications are transforming industries!   Our customers have clearly told us they want one hybrid cloud platform that will support both their IaaS and PaaS initiatives, which is exactly what we’re working to deliver.  We’ve adopted a DevOps model within our business to facilitate our own transformation and we’ll integrate the best practices and learning from that experience to the direct benefit of the Dell EMC Azure Stack customers.

Getting started (before release!)

The Technical Preview 3 announcement means we are all in the home stretch before launch, and we are EXCITED.  So excited in fact, that we don’t want anyone to wait on getting started with Azure Stack with Dell EMC.  You can schedule a briefing and demonstration with our experts at the Dell Solution Centers and Microsoft Technology Centers to get some hands-on experience and start the thinking about your Azure Stack adoption.

Customers can join our early adopter program soon, which brings such benefits as exclusive access to workshops, hackathons with live multi-node equipment, and webinars, along with the engagement of Dell EMC trusted advisors to assist you throughout your adoption journey, from pre-release planning to deployment and all the way through business expansion.

You will soon be able to order a single node from Dell EMC which is based on the Microsoft Azure Stack Development Kit.  This single node configuration will run both the Technical Preview 3 code as well as General Availability code when available – which is expected mid-calendar year 2017. You can get started thinking and practicing on how to plan for your production environment and exploring the Azure Admin and tenant portal on-premises.  This is a great way to develop and learn how you can leverage ARM templates to deliver DevOps with Infrastructure as Code, try out Azure Services such as App Services, Service Fabric and integrate with PowerShell or Visual Studio tooling.

You can then leverage that experience for planning production environments, multiple Azure Stack instances, enable multi-tenancy, and develop applications on Azure Stack.  This is hands-down the least expensive way to get started with Azure Stack hands-on with your own equipment, and continue using the equipment for development after release.

Remember that a pillar in Microsoft’s Azure Stack strategy is local service providers.  They will provide you with differentiated service levels, unique offerings, and their own integrations and value adds.  So, your preferred managed service provider will also be a key point of contact in your journey; join them for insights into how they will deliver their own flavor of Azure Stack to their customers.

This Azure Stack train is rounding the corner to its final stop before launch.  We could not be more thrilled to be part of this launch.  We will see you at Dell EMC world in May, where we’ll have piles of more details to share!

About the Author: Paul Galjan

Paul leads product management and engineering for the Microsoft Hybrid Cloud program at Dell EMC. He started his technical career working on a DARPA project helping develop software monitoring systems to detect clandestine nuclear tests. He moved into an infrastructure role on that project where he eventually managed a prototype data center for the monitoring framework supporting the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. From there he joined NetApp, where he worked with the US Marine Corps, helping develop mobile information infrastructure deployable in the adverse conditions found by the Marine Expeditionary Forces during the Iraq war, and later spearheading NetApp’s entry into the Navy-Marine Corps Intranet. After moving to New England, he joined EMC, where he supported Mid-Market Commercial as a Microsoft Specialist, and then managing the application specialists for Mid-Market before taking the role of Global Functional Lead for Microsoft, which he held for the three years prior to his current role.