Microsoft puts the Azure Stack in customers' boxes

Microsoft announced its Windows Azure cloud computing service back in late 2008, brought it to market in early 2010, and dropped the "Windows" part of the name in 2014. Until now, Azure software ran exclusively on hardware owned by the software giant. That's changing, however. Starting in September, enterprise customers will be able to run the new Azure Stack on servers purchased from a small group of approved vendors including Dell EMC, Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), and Lenovo. All three companies have Azure-ready systems available for preorder now.

Azure Stack has the same development and management tools as the Azure cloud service and shares the same usage-based fee structure. However, the fact that companies can run the Azure Stack in their premises should enable Microsoft to sell it to customers who previously couldn't use its cloud services due to regulatory or security-related reasons. The system requirements are rather vague, but all Azure Stack systems will be dual-socket servers. The hardware requirements specify a minimum of 96 GB of system memory, though Lenovo's ThinkAgile systems come equipped with a "mere" 64 GB.

HPE is the only vendor saying anything about pricing, and even then is only offering estimates of $300,000 to $400,000. Cisco and Huawei are also expected to offer Azure Stack-compatible systems. Server shipments are expected to begin in September. Curious gerbils can read Microsoft's Azure Stack whitepaper or read the documentation.

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