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.

Comments closed
    • Chrispy_
    • 2 years ago

    This morning, whilst reading this article in fact, I was busy deleting our entire Azure estate having recently migrated everything to our own hardware in a co-lo.

    Microsoft Azure’s interface was awful. They keep changing it having had a classic portal and a new portal running concurrently for years, but both portals have exclusive features meaning that you can’t ditch either. Does that sound like the schizophrenic Windows 8/10 modern/classic interface to you?

    There were also multiple bugs. We had to raise tickets that required developer intervention to resolve with seemingly simple things like renaming containers and moving disk blobs around. Stupidly simple stuff that’s quite embarrassing to even encounter, let alone require escalation to fix.

    Thirdly, the billing side of the whole process is complex and needlessly disjointed from the management portals. We really didn’t have a complex estate but the pricing and inflexibility of their systems turned it into a considerable job to keep track of.

    So yeah, if you’re going to the effort of buying a whole stack to cloud-sync there are better, cheaper, easier, faster, more reliable, more consistent, more mature and more professional solutions that Azure, period.

      • tanker27
      • 2 years ago

      I cannot argue with you. My company is tied to M$ for the long haul and its up to me as the dev/admin to make heads and tails of it all. But definitely Azure is a nightmare to manage.

        • Chrispy_
        • 2 years ago

        You can stay 100% Microsoft if you want without getting bogged down in Azure. Technically I am tied to Microsoft but only at the topmost software layer. The subsequent layers are VMWare or “other”. Given Azure’s abysmal joining and management between software layers, I’m even less keen to pay their high prices at the hardware layer too. Hell, there are vps hosts that do a better interface and management solution than Microsoft Azure….

        AFAIK there are no major software tools Microsoft make that you can’t run elsewhere on non-Azure hardware.

    • bjm
    • 2 years ago

    $300,000 to $400,000 upfront cost, yet still have to submit to a usage-based fee structure? That’s bold.

    Spicy bold.

      • tanker27
      • 2 years ago

      It is no different than what currently exists with on prem installations. Hardware isn’t free ya know. That rack of servers just didn’t magically appear. Someone had to purchase it. And that software on it…..Its all Licensed, whether it be traditional or through CALs.

      • Waco
      • 2 years ago

      Nothing new for the industry.

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