In my previous post, I gave a general overview of Azure Stack, Microsoft’s new private cloud solution. Today, we will take a closer look at the Azure Stack features.

Azure Resource Manager ^

The Azure Resource Manager is the common control panel used across all Azure services. With the ARM, you get template-based deployment of applications, which will describe your application’s resources, leading to users installing your app with a few clicks from a marketplace. You’ll also get unified role-based control.

Azure Resource Manager

Azure Resource Manager

The PowerShell CLI, chef, puppet, and ansible (among other tools) can point to either Azure Stack or Azure Cloud.

You can do your work on the platform ecosystem anywhere because Azure will be distributed throughout the world in the following places:

  • 22 Azure regions run by Microsoft with another 8 coming online soon
  • Hundreds of service providers that provide Azure as a Service
  • Thousands of enterprises running Azure in their own datacenters

Azure resource groups

From the Azure portal, resource groups can combine related resources for an application (for example, website and DB VMs), so we can manage the resources together as a template. Details including individual VM network adapters, DNS settings, and storage pools are managed here. Consistency is down at the API level.

You will be able to, for example, connect to public Azure with PowerShell, set your deployment region, and specify parameters of a VM you want to create with a script. You can then simply change your connection to Azure Stack, set your deployment region, and again create an identical VM with the same parameters and the same script you used for the public cloud.

Azure Stack CLI Demo

Azure stack CLI demo

Azure Storage Explorer ^

Azure Stack will have the same blob storage capabilities as Azure. For example, you can build a storage container within your Azure Stack named StorageBlob1 with an empty “MyPhotos” container.

Azure Storage Containers

Azure storage containers

The Azure Storage Explorer is a tool used to browse your Azure Stack or Azure Cloud storage containers. We can use the tool to connect to Azure Stack and upload a photo into the Azure Stack storage blob container.

Azure Storage Explorer Demo

Azure Storage Explorer demo

We can switch back to Azure Stack, refresh our container, and see our file. Azure will then produce a URL for the file, which we can then copy into a web browser and view the picture online.

Azure stack storage container demo

Azure Stack storage container demo

There are just a few other items to mention about Azure Stack. At any given point, Azure Stack as a cloud ecosystem will need to have a consistent set of APIs; therefore, updates will be released that will upgrade the entire Stack. The release status for Azure Stack GA is set for fourth quarter of 2016. The Technical Preview 1 has been released and will be updated throughout the year. It’s a good idea to get used to the Azure application model now and work with the Azure Resource Manager because Azure on premises will essentially be the same as what’s in the cloud.

To get started with Azure Stack Proof of Concept, you will need to do three things:

  1. Register for Azure Stack pre-release here.
  2. Register for and install Windows Server 2016 Datacenter Edition Technical Preview 4
  3. Because you will need an Azure AD instance for Azure Stack tenants, register for a free Azure trial here.

It may take a while to get your Azure Stack pre-release download after registering; in the meantime, let’s install Server 2016 Technical Preview 4 with Desktop Experience and then set up our Azure AD instance and a portal account that will be used by our first Azure Stack tenant.

In my next post, I will give an introduction of how to install Azure Stack.

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