A download button on Microsoft Azure

In the roadmap to its one consistent platform vision, the first technical preview of Microsoft Azure Stack is a significant milestone. If we stop running for a second and look back over our shoulders, it is just unbelievable what Microsoft has achieved in a very short amount of time. Starting with a CTP of Windows Azure back in 2008, their public cloud GA-ed in February 1, 2010. That is just 6 years ago. In the classic Operating System release cycle that means two OS versions. In the agile cloud, those release cycle numbers are easily exceeded, on a daily basis, per resource type.

With every innovation comes disruption. Things change. Although change can be hard initially, we learn, adapt and interact. Each person and each organization in its own pace. Microsoft is the only cloud company that not only acknowledges that, but also enable you in that process. Microsoft allows you to dynamically shift and choose in this transition to cloud services.

Ah yes, there it is again. That magic word which forms an umbrella for many different interpretations. We have all been in this situation. At a party, in a cab, a family reunion or some other social event, where someone walks up to you and, based on your introduction of your job, asks you what CLOUD is. We know how to answer that question to a technical person, but answering it to a non-technical person, isn’t always that easy.

I have a background in fabric and fabric management, but since Microsoft introduced Windows Azure I gradually moved up the stack, as an IT PRO seeking to understand the DEV. And it is interesting to see that DEVs are doing the opposite. These world are slowly coming together and even start to merge in this thing we call DEVOPS.

It’s about how, not where

Although IT PROs and DEVs are starting to communicate, there is one distinct difference between them. IT PRO tend to be very interested in the underlying infrastructure of cloud services. Where is it running and what is it running on. The DEVs on the other hand couldn’t care less. They want to know how they can access it and when. But when IT PROs look at the public cloud, they start asking the same questions as the DEVs.

Exactly six years (minus one day) after the GA of Windows Azure, Microsoft allows you to run a Technical Preview Microsoft Azure Stack. All their learnings with this massive hyper scale cloud are compressed into a powerful solution for you to install on a single server (not production of course). Which is impressive in its own right.

In the Microsoft Azure Stack announcement made yesterday, Mike Neil (Corporate Vice President, Enterprise Cloud, Microsoft Corporation) describes cloud as a model and not a place. No matter the location, the model is the same everywhere. Very true for the DEV, but what about the IT PRO?

Yes, they are in control over the on-prem infrastructure. But their true value is at the same layer as the DEV. We tend to forget from time to time, but there is only one reason why we do what we do. We enable end-users to do their work more efficiently. No matter if we are an IT PRO or a DEV. And end-users can do their work more efficiently with applications, no matter where these applications run.

One consistent cloud

Remember the non-technical person asking you what cloud is? My answer usually is, that you don’t know or care where your application is as long as you know how to access and work with it. Microsoft enables organizations to invest once and have return on investment everywhere. Microsoft Azure Stack makes it possible to not only see cloud as a model, but to use your investment in that model consistent across locations. That makes the model truly unique.

There is only one downside for the Microsoft Azure Stack community. A Microsoft Azure Stack tenant demo will be very dull. It’s going to be exactly the same as a Microsoft Azure tenant demo. The only thing different is the URI.

Call to action

No matter if you are an IT PRO or a DEV, there are common tools and technologies that are consistent across clouds. These tools and technologies are available today. You can learn the skills needed for Microsoft Azure Stack, by levering Microsoft Azure today. I’ll start with some keywords, explaining them in blogs in the upcoming weeks.

Azure Resource Manager, JSON, DSC, Github, Azure Service Fabric, Visual Studio