Microsoft Goes After Amazon Web Services With Tech That Lets Azure Cloud Run In Data Centers

Microsoft on Tuesday unveiled its first Technical Preview for Azure Stack, a new type of software that lets customers take advantage of Azure public cloud functions from within the friendly confines of their data centers.

The Azure Stack preview, which will be available Friday, lets Microsoft customers run private clouds that are compatible and interoperable with the Azure public cloud.

Customers that run Azure Stack on premise, in conjunction with the Azure cloud, will benefit from a "standardized architecture, including the same portal, a unified application model, and common DevOps tools," Mike Neil, Microsoft's corporate vice president for enterprise cloud, said in a blog post Tuesday.

Alex Brown, CEO of 10th Magnitude, a Chicago-based Microsoft Azure partner, described Azure Stack as a step toward giving customers a common infrastructure that spans the private and public cloud.

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"Azure Stack is basically like running the Azure public cloud in a private data center," Brown told CRN. "It offers a seamless operating experience that will be interesting and compelling to large corporate clients that want to run the hybrid cloud model."

[Related: Microsoft Partners: Fed-Up VMware Customers Are Switching To Azure Cloud]

As part of its hybrid pitch, Microsoft is including Infrastructure-as-a-Service and Platform-as-a-Service in Azure Stack so organizations can make them available to their end users without switching management tools, said Neil in the blog post.

Azure Stack also uses APIs that are "identical" with the Azure cloud, making it easier for developers to write apps in Microsoft's .NET or open source programming languages, Neil said in the blog post.

Brown sees Microsoft's Azure Stack efforts as being primarily focused on Amazon Web Services, the public cloud kingpin, as opposed to VMware, its main data center rival.

"The story here is more about AWS than it is about VMware, as the VMware ship has already sailed," Brown told CRN. "Azure Stack enables an incredibly important and compelling hybrid story that is very important for many organizations."

An AWS spokesman declined to comment.

Brown said 10th Magnitude has had success in getting VMware customers to use Azure Site Recovery (ASR), a service that replicates VMware workloads into Microsoft's public cloud for disaster recovery purposes.