By 2020, 90% of the businesses around the world may shift to hybrid cloud infrastructure. Hybrid cloud offers companies the scalability, flexibility, and cost-effectiveness of public cloud combined with the security and compliance benefits of private cloud. But this cloud computing environment also has certain challenges including the need for skills, tools, and application models to handle multiple platforms, a difference in user-experience across cloud boundaries, and risk of data leakage due to the interaction between various cloud environments.
Azure Stack, a hybrid cloud platform, is an extension of Microsoft Azure. It helps businesses move on hybrid cloud by reducing platform-related challenges and allowing you to utilize Azure services and capabilities from your datacenter or your service provider's DC while providing cloud autonomy and addressing business and technical requirements like compliance to regulations. It helps you overcome some of the challenges of deploying hybrid cloud solution in the following ways:
- Azure and Azure Stack require common skills and tools and provide a unified user experience across cloud boundaries when used together.
- Azure Stack allows you to use the same application model, self-service portal, and APIs as Azure with Azure Resource Manager. The open-source platform enables you to keep workloads on-premise or move them to the private cloud as required.
- It provides security for your sensitive data with strong security and privacy controls, encryption for data at rest, and key compliance standards and controls including PCI-DSS and the Cloud Security Alliance's CCM matrix.
Though Azure Stack may seem like an ideal solution for all hybrid cloud environments involving Azure, there are some things you need to know before selecting this platform.
Things to consider before deploying with Azure Stack
Hardware requirements & restrictions
Azure Stack is not a vendor-agnostic platform. It is offered as an integrated system and comes pre-installed on the hardware of select partners - Cisco, Dell EMC, Lenovo, HPE, and Huawei to provide stability and performance on cloud. Currently, the systems can only scale from 4 to 16 physical server nodes, which may not be ideal for large deployments.
Azure Stack is not a solution for non-cloud native applications including legacy apps and third-party software that can not run on Azure. Other Microsoft platforms like Hyper-V based Microsoft Systems Center or Windows Server 2016 can work for such applications.
Some Azure features are yet to be introduced
Azure Stack is still a relatively newer solution and does not provide all of Azure services. Though some more features could come up in the future, Azure Stack may not be able to provide you with the full-range of Azure features as some of these require Azure Stack to have more control over the private cloud infrastructure and data.
Payment model & cost involved
Azure Stack requires a substantial initial investment in on-premise hardware. Like Azure, Azure Stack is also billed according to consumption with a per month or per-hour model but is more economical than the former. Base VMs, VMs with Windows Server, Blob Storage, Tables and Queues Services, and Azure App Services are charged on vCPU by the minute or by storage in GB. Azure Stack is generally treated like on-premise hardware for licenses, which are also billed by consumption.
Backup & disaster recovery
Azure Stack’s Infrastructure Backup Service offers integrated backup for restored subscriptions, storage, and network quotas, but do not include VMs, network configuration, or storage resources. You may need to install Azure Backup Server or Azure Site Recovery for full backup and disaster recovery.
If you are moving to a hybrid cloud, you need to not only deploy the solution but also operate it and manage requirements including workload monitoring and capacity planning. You need staff with adequate knowledge and skills to do the job for you. Even if you have been previously working with Azure and have the required in-house capabilities for Azure Stack, you may need more workforce for the new solution.
Simplify deployment with a cloud managed service provider
Azure Stalk offers you many unique benefits and use-cases, especially for manufacturing, healthcare, and financial services and Government organizations. While making hardware or software decisions for your hybrid cloud, you need to consider the above points and, most importantly, look at your business’ needs and do your research to find the right fitment.
You can hire a cloud managed service provider who can simplify moving on hybrid cloud with Azure Stack by taking care of the above points on your behalf and deploying the solution for you. The cloud managed service provider can also operate and manage the continuously-evolving platform and provide backup and disaster recovery. Outsourcing the operations helps you save cost as hardware is included in the contract.
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