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Microsoft readies first technical preview of Azure Stack hybrid-cloud bundle

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Microsoft’s first technical preview of its Azure Stack hybrid-cloud operating environment will be available by the week’s end.

About six months later than originally anticipated, Microsoft is ready to make available the first public technical preview of Azure Stack, its customized cloud bundle.

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Microsoft officials originally outlined the company’s plans for Azure Stack last May at the Ignite conference and said to expect a preview of the technology later last summer.

On January 29, this Friday, Microsoft will make that promised technical preview available. Microsoft is aiming to make Azure Stack generally available in the fourth calendar quarter of 2016, officials said.

What is Azure Stack? Check out the lovely architectural diagram from Microsoft in this post above to get the big picture.

In short, Azure Stack is a “stack” of technologies that customers and/or hosting partners can run in their own datacenters. It’s meant to encourage customers who can’t or won’t move to the public cloud to still get some of the technological and operational cloud-computing benefits with an on-premises product.

“This is different from Amazon with AWS saying ‘our datacenter is for everyone,'” said Partner Director of Program Management Ryan O’Hara.

“Azure Stack is an extension of Azure,” O’Hara said. “The experiences are the same as in Azure, the application programming interfaces are the same, so artifacts, like Azure Resource Manager, are portable across (the two).”

The first technical preview of Azure Stack will include a host operating system, plus a number of Windows and Linux virtual machines that can run various services. The host operating system is not some version of Windows Server; instead, it is a number of Windows Server technologies customized to run on approved hardware components selected by the customer.

Microsoft plans to offer Azure Stack a list of qualified components from which to choose to build their Azure Stack systems. Microsoft published the hardware requirements for running Azure Stack Technical Preview 1 late last year. Moving forward, Microsoft also plans to work with server vendors to ultimately build these systems as preconfigured offerings, O’Hara said.

Microsoft’s overarching goal with Azure Stack is to provide users with a standardized architecture that is common to both the public and private cloud. Azure Stack and Azure will include the same portal, unified application model and common dev-ops tools. The application model is based on Azure Resource Manager, and the shared tools include Visual Studio and PowerShell.

Between now and the fourth quarter of the year, Microsoft plans to release a series of technical previews of Azure Stack that will add more services and content, including operating system images and Azure Resource Manager templates. Like Azure, Azure Stack will allow users to host “cloud-native” (platform-as-a-service) applications, as well as traditional applications via infrastructure-as-a-service workloads.

Users can sign up now to be notified of availability of the Azure Stack technical preview.

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