The Best Of Both Worlds: Hybrid Cloud With Microsoft Azure Stack

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ADVERTORIAL: Private and public cloud strategies have their advantages and disadvantages, but why not combine both? Pulsant and Microsoft Azure Stack can help deliver mature hybrid cloud

Cloud computing has the ability to transform business, but choosing the right model is not a decision to take lightly. Do you go to the public cloud or keep things in-house with a private cloud? Both have advantages and disadvantages, but many organisations are increasingly opting for a combination.

The hybrid cloud combines multiple clouds for a more balanced and long term strategic solution, especially for organisations previously not ready to make the jump or bound by regulations, and it keeps on evolving

Last year Microsoft announced its own hybrid cloud platform: Azure Stack, which many consider a ‘game-changing’ development. It will allow organisations to access the benefits of Azure from any data centre: their own, their IT provider’s or Microsoft’s public cloud.

This gives organisations enormous flexibility, scalability and the potential to optimise their IT cost and performance, through Azure Stack’s true service portability.

It is set to arrive in mid-2017 and the combination of Azure Stack, Dell architecture and Pulsant’s hybrid cloud management, cross-platform support and UK data centres will give customers the best of both worlds.

The Hybrid Cloud

hybrid cloudSo what exactly is the hybrid cloud? Well, a hybrid cloud typically combines both public and private components, both of which perform different functions within the same organisation. These two services operate independently of each other, but they also interact with each other and combine to form the services delivered to users and customers.

The hybrid cloud is an increasingly popular option for organisations as it maximises existing on-premise investments, reduces costs and increases flexibility, whilst retaining control of the service. It can be tailored to meet specific business requirements, and is a scalable solution that can come at an optimum price point when compared to a private cloud.

The hybrid cloud also solves a number of problems associated with the public cloud, as some businesses have strict security, regulatory and compliance requirements that a public cloud simply cannot satisfy. Some businesses also have core business applications that are not permitted outside of the data centre.

Typically, a hybrid cloud can be implemented in a number of ways. Organisations with their own private clouds could sign up to a public cloud service which they then integrate into their infrastructure.

Alternatively, different cloud providers can partner up to provide both private and public services as an integrated service. And finally, an individual cloud provider can offer a complete hybrid package.

Microsoft Azure Stack

Microsoft Azure Stack enables an organisation to deliver Azure services from within its own data centre. This gives companies the power to host an Azure cloud and move workloads seamlessly between their own data centre, or a provider like Pulsant, and the Azure public cloud.

awsThe beauty of the Microsoft Azure Stack is it can provide all the benefits and updates of the Azure platform, but in a private data centre that can still be controlled by the business. It is fair to say that its arrival has been quite a disruptive development in the cloud industry as IT departments can still call the shots over where they keep the organisation’s data and applications.

So how does it work? Well, the Microsoft Azure Stack will run Microsoft’s vNext technology ‘stack’, Window Server 2016, Hyper-V and Microsoft networking and storage. Microsoft has decided that Azure Stack has to be an appliance, with Dell, HPE and Lenovo as main partners. Essentially, it is an identical copy of Azure in a private environment, with certified hardware guaranteed to work with the solution.

But this means that the Azure Stack is not something people will be able to build for themselves. Customers will have to source the relevant skills and equipment themselves, or alternatively use a service provider that can offer a one-stop solution. Remember, Microsoft updates Azure every day and the complexity of testing, hardware and APIs will be a massive undertaking for any organisation.

Pulsant and Dell: The Best of Both Worlds

Many enterprises would like to would like to host Azure within their data centres for performance, security or compliance reasons, and many service providers would like to offer Azure-compatible services for data sovereignty or other targeted services.

The Azure Stack is not something people will be able to build for themselves. But experienced service providers such as Pulsant can step into the breach and deliver a reliable, secure and scalable hybrid cloud solution.

Pulsant is a recognised hosting specialist with network of datacentre facilities across the UK, and it can offer customers a new and exciting Azure Stack service. Pulsant has a well-established relationship with Dell, one of the few companies that can supply Azure Stack certified hardware and is an organisation that has a long relationship with Microsoft.

Pulsant also has a great deal of experience of being able to analyse whether the adoption of a public or private cloud would benefit the strategic goals and requirements of the customer. Its experience here means it is well positioned to assist hybrid cloud customers who aren’t quite ready (or unable) to move workloads to the public cloud.

Pulsant’s solid relationship with Dell means that any Dell equipment in Pulsant’s data centres will get updates as soon as Microsoft releases them.

What Next?

retailThe arrival of the Microsoft Azure Stack promises to be a ‘game-changing’ event in the cloud environment, and will provide Microsoft with a unique position in the marketplace.

Businesses now need to start considering the benefits it can offer them, and evaluate how it will tie in with their existing cloud landscape. Organisations should identify an IT provider that can help them access and maximise the benefits of the Azure Stack, and a provider that has the skills and experience to help integrate their existing environment to obtain the best hybrid IT solution for their business.

Azure of course offers a highly scalable and global distributed public cloud service, whilst Stack provides businesses with the opportunity to run the same applications, capabilities and functionality from within their own data centre.

It will change radically how organisations manage large-scale IT services and will positively impact the ‘Dev/Ops’ lifecycle, particularly for complex, secure or high-performance workloads.

If you are considering using the Microsoft Azure Stack then please contact hosting provider Pulsant, to discuss how it’s real world experience, infrastructure and capabilities, its close relationship with Dell, and its Azure Stack service will best suit your organisation.