Azure Stack on-premises & how it’ll blow your mind

Azure Stack Summary

Today I watched Ultan Kinahan (from Microsoft Global Black Belt Consulting team) presentation on Azure Stack.

Short summary – it blew my mind.

It reminded how powerful Microsoft really is. And how advanced things are. And that really not many competitors have resources or capacity to build cool stuff like this.

Before today, I had no idea you can run Azure on premises.

Yep. Say you have requirement that data can never leave premises. But you want to take advantage of all coolness from Azure. Well now you can!

Below are some of the random notes I scriblled while listening to presentation.

Azure Stack is an extension of Azure which you can run on-premises.

– there are 50 Azure regions
– Azure services are available on-premises. There is a lot of services that are in development, just haven’t been announced yet.
– Data Lake – 10,000 servers
– Smallest services is Azure backup takes 38 servers to run. Its changing to 12 servers soon.
– Moving Container services to Kubernetes – this is new way to do containers??
– Azure Stack has its own marketplace. Each partner that gets accepted, agrees to support their offering in regular Azure and in Azure Stack (on-premises)

Use Azure Stack for:
– latency
– connectivity
– local data processing

Azure Stack use cases:
– Military
– space
– planes
– submarines
– oil rigs
– on back of Humvees for military
– space & SpaceX

Regulations to consider:
– government
– industry
– region

You can deploy Azure Stack in two ways:
– connected to internet
– disconnected – never connected to anything. You can run this completely disconnected from anything in the world

Azure Stack Competitors: 

  • AWS is dabling with something similar. AWS competing product is GreenGrass.  However, its going to be pretty hard for them, because they don’t own software products it takes to run this end to end.
  • Google doesn’t have any competing offers for on premises.
  • IBM doesn’t either – and they dont know what they have to begin with.
    Google is much better spot to compete with something like this. – is single source of truth.

Differences between Azure and Azure Stack:
– endpoints
– API versions (most will never be same)
– capabilities (adding a lot more scale, storage, services, etc)
– content (marketplace, a lot of stuff in the pipeline)

Which to developer means: you now have to deploy to two end-points. There are customers that already have 14 different Azure Stacks.
Azure Stack Policy Pack – you can apply to your Azure subscription (sounds like its easier to spin up a new subscription vs. fixing existing one?)
Right now they test on all OEM kits, before new service?? goes live.

Two ways to purchase Azure Stack
– system you manage
– managed service

Cheapest Azure Stack you can get today is 4 node one, it will cost between $150K to $400K. 12 node – goes for up to $1MM.

You can not re-purpose any hardware you have today for Azure Stack.
Because things inside are very specialized. Almost like appliance.

Support is integrated into MS. When needed goes to OEMs.

Hardware pieces a single Azure Stack unit consists of: (this is called Scale Unit🙂
– redundant power supply
– switches (40GnE
– management switch
– Hardware Lifecycle Host (HLH) – monitoring, alerting, updates
– the rest are servers: 4 servers minimum. 16 max. All servers are EXACTLY same
– The unit is optimized for specific purpose

LRS – local redundant storage

Managing customer network is challenging.

Partners today that can build Azure Stack units are:
Wortmann AG

As an example, it took 20 minutes to deploy 80 VM, and 28min on Azure Stack for one of the recent customer. In comparison it used to take abou 6 weeks for that customer to spin that many machines up before.

When to use what?
– Azure with Policy
– Azure Stack Development Kit – to update you have to completely burn and re-deploy basically
– Azure Stack OEM Solution

What is for:

– First consistent Hybrid Cloud Platform
– integrated system with Iaas and PaaS
– Regularly updated to Azure-consistency
– Truly open and flexible (just like azure)

What its not for:
– Basic Virtualization-replacement solution
– DYI infrastructure
– static system you deploy and forget
– .NET/Win only

As admin you are now change roles – you have to guard capacity of the box.
Admin sets Quotas.

One nice feature, is you can price services out to and then charge your internal users.

Azure Stack Pricing

SQL/mysql is just connector

Currently working on designing how to deploy SQL Server

They are now modeling how they going to bring in SQL Server into Azure Stack

Mark Questions / thoughts:
– can sysadmin able to RDP to a certain Server – answer is no. each server is on Win Core.
– how do you get a test box to play around with? Because it seems that after you buy this, you going to want to test things out. And not necessarily on your prod Azure Stack.
– licensing – didn’t understand how things are priced if you want to install SQL server on Azure Stack. Is license extra, same??

Azure Stack reminded me what mainframes were. It seems a bit like aBetterServer or Server v2. Now – it’s a closet with a ton of hardware. Expensive. Big. Heavy. Only big customers can afford it.

You have to agree – mainframes have some similarities. But if this offering gets popular, then price, weight, size will start to shrink.

And Azure Stack can be easily become new type of “server v2” where parts are redundant, plugged into cloud. If you think about it, the way server should be…if you were building one from scratch today.

Let our expert SQL Server Consulting team handle the technical complexities, so you can focus on driving your business forward with confidence.

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Mark Varnas

Hey I'm Mark, one of the guys behind Red9. I make a living performance tuning SQL Servers and making them more stable. I channel my SQL into our SQL Managed Services, SQL Consulting and our internal database products.

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