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Microsoft Bolsters Azure Stack with PaaS, DevOps Tools

On the heels of the long-awaited debut of the Azure Stack technical preview, Microsoft has released additional features for the solution.

Azure Stack is designed to enable apps developed for the Microsoft Azure public cloud to run on Windows Server 2016 in dedicated environments. The new Azure Stack features, which Microsoft announced last week, are the Azure SDK that includes Windows PowerShell support and cross-platform CLI support, the Web Apps feature to the Azure Apps Service, SQL and MySQL database resource providers that are designed to support the Web Apps data tier, and, for developers, native Visual Studio support.

"We're making additional Azure PaaS services and DevOps tools available for you to deploy and run on top of your Technical Preview deployments," Microsoft said in a blog post. "This represents the first installment of continuous innovation towards helping you deliver Azure services from your datacenter."

There are now over 70 Azure services. When Microsoft released the Azure Stack technical preview in late January, the company signaled it would roll out functionality or services incrementally. The initial release consisted of the core Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) stack, said Jeff DeVerter, chief technologist for Rackspace's Microsoft practice. DeVerter shared his observations during an interview last week at the Rackspace: Solve conference in New York.

"They initially gave us storage, compute. SDN was there and Resource Manager was there. It was literally a handful of things. And then what they're doing is lighting up additional features as resource packs after the fact, which is what they did this week when they gave Database as a Service for both SQL and MySQL databases and the Web sites component," DeVerter said. "The behavior this week suggests they're going to give it in packs. Which gives you some idea as to how Azure is built. It's built as a service framework with capabilities that hang off it."

DeVerter, who said the Azure Stack technical preview "is pretty clean," believes the quick release of the second set of features is a positive sign.

"It bodes well," he said. "It also tells you that at some point they will be comfortable with that service framework that is Azure."

The Azure Stack technical preview does have one surprising limitation: Microsoft has limited it to running on a single hypervisor. Also, Rackspace had to acquire new hardware -- quad-core servers with 128GB of RAM -- to deploy Azure Stack in its test labs. It's too early to say how much hardware Azure Stack will require once it becomes generally available in the fourth quarter, DeVerter said, since the current preview has the one-hypervisor limit.

About the Author

Jeffrey Schwartz is editor of Redmond magazine and also covers cloud computing for Virtualization Review's Cloud Report. In addition, he writes the Channeling the Cloud column for Redmond Channel Partner. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreySchwartz.

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