Let’s talk business: MAS vs WAP

Azure Stack

Azure Pack with System Center

Availability Targeted for mid-CY2017 as part of an integrated system. Available.
Hardware Azure Stack will be part of an integrated out-of-the box hardware solution provided by Dell, HPE and Lenovo. Over time, Microsoft will broaden the ecosystem of supported systems and implementation approaches. Choose your own hardware.
Model Uses a cloud consumption model. Uses the traditional model with classic Azure services.
Marketed An ‘Azure in-a-box’ platform acting as an extension of Azure in smaller hosted and private clouds. It provides Azure services in local data centers at enterprises and cloud service providers. Enabling new Hybrid scenarios in a consistent multi-cloud experience with new PaaS services where customers, over time, gradually transition to. System Center with Hyper-V is used as a highly flexible and customizable on-premise infrastructure management suite. It eases the deployment, automation and day-to-day management of traditional infrastructure. Windows Azure Pack (WAP) on top adds a multi-tenant Azure classic portal and automation with classic IaaS cloud services.
Scenario When companies want to use Azure Cloud services (IaaS, PaaS, SaaS) in a new cloud consumption model and have their motives (hybrid, data, latency, regulation etc) to consume them in their own private cloud or in the hosted cloud through a cloud service provider. A trusted cloud service provider with custom Azure service offerings with additional managed and advisory services, guiding customers with their (hybrid) cloud journey. System Center with Hyper-V is used to deploy and manage traditional virtual infrastructure components. In new or existing on premise environments, enabling structured deployment flexibility and options. WAP adds a multi-tenant Azure classic service provider framework with consumable IaaS services. Adding more control in provisioning resources and usage insights via a portal or development tools.
Proven Technology Azure Stack runs battle-hardened hyper-scale Azure services implemented in a smaller local hyper-converged software-defined data center solution made possible by Windows Server 2016 using software-defined storage and network technology from Azure. System Center with Hyper-V is a mature and enterprise adopted virtualization automation product with a large supporting user base across all industries. WAP is on the market for several years now and already proved its success as a mature and competing IaaS solution.
Under the hood Azure Stack can be seen as an exact software copy of hyper-scale Azure slimmed down to run at smaller scale on own hardware in your local data center. It’s a mature, highly automated and extensible service provider orientated provisioning platform. Offering end users Azure’s IaaS and PaaS pay-per-use services fitted and built on top of new software-defined storage, network and compute virtualization layers introduced with ‘Window Server 2016’. Enabling a new elastic, scalable and resilient hyper-converged scenario controlled by the software on top. System Center with Hyper-V can be seen as a flexible virtual infrastructure component deployment and management tool. Offering the IT professional and administrator highly customizable and manageable infrastructure aligned with traditional IT solutions and business processes. WAP extends and manages this infrastructure through the proven Azure classic portal and API’s in a consumable but older IaaS approach to end-users, IT admins and developers.
Scale A turn-key out-of-the box integrated hardware and software solution designed for an elastic environment. Scaling and resiliency are primarily handled by the solution itself, software and configuration is automatically deployed when a new server (resources) is added to a scale unit (cluster). Scaling is done manually and involves a manual and time intensive deployment of hardware and software.
Customization At platform services level via the portal as the administrator. Offering custom resource providers, offers, plans, market place items and pricing. At hardware level, customizing the integrated solution by differentiating in memory, processor, storage and networking. There is no customization possible at the Azure Stack software infrastructure management layer itself. At infrastructure component level through the management console or PowerShell. You are totally free to choose your own hardware and customize and configure software on the management and infrastructure servers to your organizational needs. When using WAP, customization is done through the portal and API’s. Offering custom plans, automation, VM roles and much more.
Learning curve Azure Stack is Azure in your data center. You need an Azure skill set for managing but also using all IaaS, PaaS, SaaS and all the complimentary services around them. It can be a steep learning curve, certainly when you’re new to Azure. Azure Stack infrastructure host deployment and management is only of importance for the initial hardware setup and requires above average knowledge of software-defined storage and networking.
Operating Azure Stack and aligning the business requires a transformation of IT (Cloud model/DevOps) and involvement of product management teams.
System Center with Hyper-V on Windows Server are mature and broadly adopted products. They require knowledge and expertise that can be gained with readily available courses and exams, there is also wide community support. Deploying and maintaining WAP is more of a challenge, it requires a deep level of understanding of authentication, automation, provisioning, networking, storage
and architectural concepts. Operating WAP/ System Center and aligning the business is part of traditional IT practices and already adopted by most organizations.
Licensing Azure Stack licensing model is still unknown. Licensing model is readily available.
Support Through hardware vendor supporting the integrated solution and custom Microsoft support. Through regular Microsoft support channels. Support roadmap here.

Created by Ruud Borst and Darryl van der Peijl

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