Jul 13, 2017

Azure Stack: When Cloud Lands On-Premises

For years, software editors have been pushing cloud possibilities like never before. And we’ve all seen our favorite products get rebranded and migrated to new license models.

These cloud licensing transitions have brought challenges for IT Asset Management (ITAM) and Software Asset Management (SAM) teams as they familiarize themselves with SaaS, PaaS and IaaS licensing scenarios. Now that cloud products are established, we’ve settled in and are feeling safe and sound with our new cloud solution friends – and hope that no new disruptive changes will occur in the near future.

Stay Grounded! The Real Deal About Cloud

Unfortunately this is not what this article is going to confirm. Because, cloud is back! And this time, it’s landing on-premises.

I know that some of you will start laughing and say: “This is just ridiculous…” and others will scream: “Really?” But, let’s take a deep breath and review those changes together.

The new face of Azure

You’re probably wondering how Azure on-premises could be considered a benefit for customers. Simply put, Azure Stack extends Azure Services to a customer’s premises. In other words, this option satisfies the needs of those who previously weren’t able to utilize Azure in the cloud due to data security or other reasons.

With Azure Stack, these users can now implement Azure on-premises simply because they own the datacenter. This data will remain local and will no longer be sent to public clouds. Additionally, if it fits their needs, customers can disconnect their datacenters, and stay offline.

Think about Azure as a restaurant buffet: you can either choose to serve yourself food and eat it at your own at your table (Azure Stack), or you can just camp out in front of the buffet (Azure) and chow down. In either scenario, you’ll be eating the same food.

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More options for licensing and metrics

Since Azure Stack remains a cloud service and perpetual licenses aren’t available, this product is consumed and charged on a “pay as you go” offering available for EA and CSP agreements. Nothing groundbreaking here, right?

But now let’s consider that Microsoft’s main objective is to offer a consistent infrastructure between Azure and a customer’s premises. Here’s where it gets interesting: the solution to this goal is achieved through the collaboration between Microsoft and hardware manufacturers. This is why Lenovo, Dell EMC, and HPE now will distribute a new generation of “Hybrid Ready” servers with pre-installed Azure Stack on them. And IT Departments should get excited because those turnkey servers will require considerably less time investment during the deployment phase.

Alternatively, customers can also ask their Service Provider (SPLA) to rent their hardware together with Azure Stack instances. The needs of existing Volume Licensing customers are also met here since both Windows Server and SQL Server can be installed on Azure Stack servers. This means that they’ll pay a lower price for Azure Stack because they’re bringing their own licenses in addition to the hardware. However, just like any other License mobility scenario, customers who choose the Service Provider option should keep in mind that active Software Assurance will be required.

I hope this helps you to understand the reasons – and benefits – behind the new product release of Azure Stack. In the software licensing world, always remember: “There is nothing permanent except change” (Heraclitus).

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Topics: Cloud, Microsoft