The marketplace continues to evolve and force industry leaders to embrace cloud-based solutions for their businesses. The new normal is here - virtualization reduces number of servers that further lowers operating expenses. Cloud providers collaborate and operate data centres with massive server farms and allow enterprises to outsource their IT infrastructure. However, the issue is that many enterprises are incapable of outsource or transit easily due to regulatory and compliance restrictions, especially for mission-critical applications.
Several vendors offer on-prem or cloud options to address these constraints while allowing users to reap maximum profits from cloud services. The biggest players across the industry such as AWS or Microsoft Azure are providing on-prem enterprises application modernization.
While primarily focusing on addressing data regulatory restrictions, each vendor has its own distinct approach on how it is stepping into the market with IaaS, hybrid or multi-cloud implementations. The following is a brief overview of each company's on-premises solutions:
- Amazon Web Services Outposts (AWS Outposts): It is an IT-as-a-Service solution offering AWS infrastructure and select services such as Elastic Kubernetes Service (EKS), Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), and Elastic Block Storage (EBS) to a customer using AWS data centre hardware, at the choice of the latter’s location. This would serve as core of a hybrid or multi-cloud framework for the customer.
- Microsoft Azure Stack Hub: This provides services similar to the Azure public cloud offering for more disconnected environments. It also comprises the Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS) that replaces the earlier Azure Container Services for implementing and managing containerized applications. This too acts as a packaged cloud solution that can be deployed at client’s location of choice, often as part of a hybrid or multi-cloud model.
A well architected uplift, easy shift for your on-prem infra
AWS Outposts is fully configured hardware and software for enterprise data centres that enables them to run their mission-critical apps from any location. Users can purchase a hardware rack with pre-installed AWS services. It offers two variants. One that runs VMware Cloud on AWS and another that runs compute and storage on-premises, using the same APIs.
The important fact is that AWS Outposts are interconnected with the nearest AWS region directly to deliver a seamless operational experience across on-premises and cloud environments. The Outposts infrastructure, AWS services, and updates are fully managed by AWS.
AWS Outposts allow enterprises to run AWS services locally while connecting to various services available in the local AWS region. They can also run applications and workloads on-premises using a family of AWS services, tools, and APIs. The Outposts solution is designed to support workloads and devices that require low latency access to on-premises systems, local data processing, data residency, and application migration with local system interdependencies.
Scale your on-prem infra with AWS Outposts
Outposts provides a customized, hybrid architecture that enables you to:
- Manage where your workloads run and where your data is stored
- Meet specific requirements such as local data residency or ultra-low latency processing
- Process data in local regions using AWS services, tools, and APIs
- Streamline hybrid IT operations through a single AWS console
- Meet regulatory standards allowing for disaster recovery within the same country
AWS Outposts vs Microsoft Azure Stack
Now that we have understood what AWS Outposts brings to the table, let’s delve into some differences:
- AWS Outposts users begin with one node. In contrast, the minimum requirement for Azure Stack is four nodes
- AWS owns the entire hardware and software stack while introducing new features like hardware-dependent networking capabilities. Azure Stack, on the other hand, collaborates with several OEMs
- AWS Outposts can be subscribed through the AWS console, making deployment extremely simple. With Azure, users can initiate the procurement and deployment stages with the help of an Azure Stack Partner.
- AWS provides fully managed services, including managed updates but Azure Stack cannot be managed or updated due to the involvement of multiple vendors.
|Parameters||AWS Outposts||Azure Stack|
|Cloud services supported||
Compute, storage, containers, databases
Compute, storage, containers, databases, IoT, data analytics
Need to buy from AWS
Accessible through different vendors
Based on cloud services adopted. Additional charges for data egress, software licenses, etc
Bases on cloud services used. Additional charges for data egress, software licenses, and more
In my own backyard: When you want apps to run, on-prem
Most enterprises are modernizing IT environments including hardware acquisition and management. When implementing on-premise solutions, these vendors provide multiple options that enable customers to gain benefit from their existing hardware. The good news is, AWS Outposts is designed to support business with on-prem apps. AWS Outposts uses the same hardware rack as the AWS public cloud does to offer a uniform experience.
On the other hand, Microsoft Azure Stack Hub chooses certified hardware partners over DIY infrastructure for smooth implementation, updates, and monitoring. Nodes within an Azure Stack must be the same such as CPUs, memory space, storage, and firmware. Customer don’t have access to entire Azure Stack hosts even if they have paid for the hardware. Therefore, it is a substitute for existing on-premises and cloud-based virtualization solutions, not their replacement.
The future of the cloud lies with application portability
Portability is one of the advantages of containerized apps. It allows enterprises to shift applications between development, test, and production environments without disturbing base configurations. For instance, Microsoft Azure Stack supports Docker and provides customers various architectural options such as Azure App Services and Azure Functions.
On the other hand, AWS is continuously improving its Amazon Elastic Container Service (ECS) to make it a leading container orchestration tool. Deploying containers and standard Kubernetes for container orchestration enables businesses to use an open and portable app on multiple cloud environments without vendor lock-in.
Setup differences between AWS Outposts and Azure Stack
The setup of AWS Outposts is similar to AWS public cloud as both containerized and VM workflows are supported. In addition, it also supports database and big data processing workloads using both containerized and non-containerized solutions. Conversely, the Microsoft Azure Stack allows enterprises to deploy and manage virtual machines and infrastructures on-premises. It supports multiple VM sizes that are a subset of the public Azure offering.
These offerings limit resources to avoid overconsumption. Microsoft is expanding its support - adding key capabilities to synchronize Azure Stack and Azure functionality. In contrast, AWS Outposts support only a subset of services and claim that more services will be added in the future.
Platform maintenance and upgrades: The difference in operational effort
To manage the on-prem solutions easily, AWS Outposts simplifies the management by linking to a parent AWS region. AWS also monitors and maintains the underlying instruments. If any hardware fails, AWS replaces the hardware and instructs the IT teams on how to repair the faulty hardware.
Microsoft Azure Stack sends updates regularly and asks customers to update it for continuous support. These updates involve security and bug fixes, and new functionalities to keep Azure Stack upgraded. Azure Stack Hub hardware partners oversee the hardware-related firmware services and deliver update packages.
A single pane view: Unified hybrid and multi-cloud management
Enterprises are embracing multi-cloud environments through a mix of public and private clouds as their preferred strategy. An effective solution gives a unified view to manage all resources.
AWS provides an active connection to core cloud so these solutions can be managed via their respective UIs. For instance, AWS Outposts are linked with the parent AWS region. Customers can launch Amazon EC2 instances and use other AWS services on Outposts with the same APIs.
Doing this differently, Microsoft Azure Stack deploys Azure Resource Manager. This is a technology that enables customers to access multiple portals at a time. These days, customers demand a unified Azure Stack portal to manage the different units and regions. This is where Microsoft Azure Arc comes in. It helps manage container-based applications across a multi-cloud environment.
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