In 2012, Steve Ballmer, Microsoft CEO, familiarized all of us, and the Microsoft fans of the things developed in the past 30 years in particular, with the company's mission: "a computer on every desk and in every home". Of course, the path to this declared mission began with the launch of the revolutionary and controversial Windows 8 platform, which was designed to be present on all devices, from desktop to laptop, to mobile phones, tablets and XBOX consoles.
Microsoft had to wait another two years until Bill Gates decided to fill in the "Founder and Technology Advisor" position, to fire the former CEO, replacing them with Satya Nadella, the former manager of the Cloud platform and technology division. Due to this welcomed change, Microsoft brings the new company vision to the entire worlds: "Our mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more!", Satya Nadella CEO Microsoft.
As IT specialist who dedicated 20 years of Microsoft technologies, the last 16 years being devoted to training and consultancy for server and desktop platforms, I must admit that I was completely fascinated by this company's "WHY" into which I invested my entire trust and admiration, when it comes to revolutionary products. Don't we all aim at this, all of us who invested years of study and hard work to understand the technologies being launched every year? I was fascinated by Microsoft's cloud solutions since 2010, once the ephemeral Bussiness Productivity Office Suite (BPOS) platform became Office 365, and the first Private Cloud technologies, based on Hyper-V and System Center, were launched.
In 2013 I witnessed how Microsoft Cloud Platform technologies became more mature, once the exquisite Windows Server 2012R2 product came to play and once the Windows Azure platform, renamed Microsoft Azure, was rekindled.
I added new platforms to my sphere of interest, completing the Microsoft suite with Microsoft Intune, Enterprise Mobility Suite and watching, many times exhausted and perplexed the speed with which the Office 365 and Azure platforms redefined themselves from one semester to the other. However, nothing made me more enthusiastic than the launch of the new Microsoft vision, which enables the expansion of proprietary data centers through a vast network of strategic partners and cloud service providers. This was possible due to the Azure Stack Developer Platform, which reached its Technical Preview 3 at the beginning of March 2017, the last before its official launch scheduled for mid-2017.
The adventure of installing the first TP from AzureStack began on a desktop unit with only 32GB memory and an 8-nucleus processor, being continued, with the November launch of TP2, on a Cisco UCS server with 24 cores and 128GB memory. After three days of work, the AzureStack platform showed its entire splendor, enabling me to create the first Bittnet "Azure-based data-center".
I had the chance to discover the intimate architecture of the cloud Microsoft Azure platform, where I managed to implement , within the limits of the server gracefully received from Cisco Romania, IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) resources computing Windows and Linux, networking, storage and even PaaS (Platform as a Service) Web application, MSSQL and MySQL.
From the moment I went through the clear and very detailed Microsoft documentation, the AzureStack mission was clear: "it is a hybrid platform enabling companies to deliver services on the Azure platform in its very own data center". In other words, Microsoft manages to advance companies to the digital age, transforming them into digital companies, which can deliver resources, cloud services, using their own hardware resources and which are now no longer restricted by the limitations of keeping company data in data centers outside the company country.
Being an extensible platform, AzureStack enables the supply of a wide range of Azure services, being able to be integrated with the MarketPlace Azure platform and managing to function very well in hybrid environments with the help of Microsoft Azure Pack connector, designed to integrate itself with the IaaS resources from the Cloud Platform System.
The architecture of the AzureStack platform has been improved on a continuous basis, reaching, at the current moment 15 virtual machines hosted in the company data center. These fulfill the following roles:
MAS-ACS01 Azure Stack storage services.
MAS-ADFS01 Active Directory Federation Services (ADFS).
MAS-BGPNAT01 Edge router and provides NAT and VPN capabilities for Azure Stack.
MAS-CA01 Certificate authority services for Azure Stack role services.
MAS-CON01 Console machine available for installing PowerShell, Visual Studio, and other tools.
MAS-DC01 Active Directory, DNS, and DHCP services for Microsoft Azure Stack.
MAS-ERCS01 Emergency Recovery Console VM.
MAS-GWY01 Edge gateway services such as VPN site-to-site connections for tenant networks.
MAS-NC01 Network Controller, which manages Azure Stack network services.
MAS-SLB01 Load balancing multiplexer services in Azure Stack for both tenants and Azure Stack infrastructure services.
MAS-SUS01 Windows Server Update Services, and responsible for providing updates to other Azure Stack virtual machines.
MAS-SQL01 Internal data store for Azure Stack infrastructure roles.
MAS-WAS01 Azure Stack user (tenant) portal and Azure Resource Manager services.
MAS-WASP01 Azure Stack administrative portal and Azure Resource Manager services.
These roles are complemented, by storage services:
ACS Blob Service Azure Consistent Storage Blob service, which provides blob and table storage services.
SoFS Scale-out File Server.
The hardware and software recommendations made by Microsoft for implementing AzureStack POC are:
For a clearer platform image, you can consult the following document.
Eventually, all that is left is to enjoy the platform which will enable us to step into the future. Microsoft's bet with the global cloud service market is as bold, as it is revolutionary. In just one year, Microsoft manages to fascinate the large public, by drawing the attention of those who, until now, resisted the tendency of using the cloud resources of the present time.
Most certainly, the AWS and Google competitors will buckle up to catch the wave of these latest changes. However, the merit of bringing the cloud on company servers will belong to Microsoft.
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