Microsoft Azure Stack - Taking the Cloud Local

Microsoft Azure continues to evolve at an extremely fast pace. This week, Microsoft released yet another update. This time, it is the Microsoft Azure Stack Technical Preview 3, which is available now. This is expected to be the last technical preview prior to the availability of orders later this year.

What Is Microsoft Azure Stack?

If you are not familiar, Microsoft Azure Stack is a hybrid cloud version of Microsoft Azure that companies can run on-premises. The underlying architecture, infrastructure, and services for Azure Stack are the same as the cloud-based Azure. More importantly, it is designed to use the same portal and tools as cloud-based Azure.

Things such as the APIs, the use of Visual Studio, the use of PowerShell cmdlets, the same application model, the same deployment scenario, and other experiences are the same on Azure Stack as they are on the public Azure cloud. The end result is that a company can maintain control locally, but then also be able to easily move to the cloud with little effort. For a developer, the experience is consistent across both. Code and apps you, as a developer, write for Azure or Azure Stack are the same.

Azure Cloud Stack TP 3
Figure 1: Azure stack is consistent with Azure.

Prerequisites for Using Microsoft Azure Stack

Of course, Microsoft Azure Stack is not a system for the faint of heart. Rather, this is a full-fledged system expected to run enterprise-grade applications and services. You’ll need to have a minimum of a dual socket system with at least 12 physical cores, as well as 96 GB of RAM. You’ll also need at least 200 GB available on a disk. You’ll want a system certified for Windows 2012 R2 as well as BIOS that is Hyper-V enabled. You can find a more detailed list of requirements as well as a link for confirming that your hardware will work on the Azure Stack deployment prerequisites page.

What’s Added in Azure Stack TP3?

Azure Stack TP3 builds on the previous preview. Microsoft indicated that the new features include infrastructure and security enhancements along with the ability to run in more locations without connecting to Azure. There also are additional modern application capabilities. Some of the things you can do with Azure Stack TP3 include improvements to IaaS and PaaS functionality, enhanced management of infrastructure functionality, the ability to deploy with ADFS for disconnected scenarios, and numerous other features. You can find a list of things that Azure Stack TP3 customers can do on the Azure team blog.

Doing Proof of Concept (POC) with Azure Stack

Microsoft has also provided the Azure Stack Proof of Concept (POC) deployment that will be renamed to the Microsoft Azure Stack Development Kit when the Azure Stack is released the middle of this year for general availability. This is a single server testing tool that allows you to prototype and validate hybrid applications that you build. You’ll also be able to use this tool to evaluate the new features that Microsoft pushes out for Azure Stack. You can expect updates to continue to happen on a continuous basis going forward.

Accessing Microsoft Azure Stack

The technical preview 3 is available now. You can get it as well as get additional information on the following page:

https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/overview/azure-stack/

Here is a bit more from Channel9 about what developers can gain from Azure Stack:

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