Back in January this year, Microsoft made available the first technical preview of its Azure Stack hybrid cloud solution. Azure Stack was designed to be an extension of the Azure platform which would enable customers to deploy Azure cloud services from their own data centers.
Under the hood, Azure Stack is supported by Microsoft's Hyper-V, networking and storage technologies, along with a number of Windows and Linux virtual machines each running various services. While the first technical preview of Azure Stack was vendor-agnostic in terms of the underlying hardware, that situation has now changed according to an announcement by Corporate Vice President, Enterprise Cloud Mike Neil who said:
To best meet these requirements, we will prioritize delivering Azure Stack as turnkey integrated systems in the initial general availability (GA) release, combining software, hardware, support and services in one solution.
At this stage, general availability of Azure Stack is targeted for mid-2017 in partnership with Dell, HPE and Lenovo, who will each "co-engineer integrated systems for production environments" with Microsoft.
Despite Microsoft's revised focus on its turn-key appliance approach, the company has not ruled out the return of deployments to custom hardware, and said:
Over time, we will look to broaden the ecosystem of supported systems and implementation approaches, based on customer feedback and ensuring we can meet all of our customers’ unique needs.
While this leaves a faint glimmer of hope for those wanting to avoid purchasing integrated solutions from the three initial hardware partners, it could still be years before Microsoft makes this a supported possibility.
A second technical preview of Azure Stack will arrive sometime before the end of this calendar.