The status of the Windows Azure Pack

By jpsmit
February 6, 2015
0

Until now my focus was not really on the private cloud, but I was triggered by the fact that it was mentioned at Integrate 2014 conference in Seattle which I attended. During the conference I realized I didn’t know a lot about the Azure pack, while it will become very important. The current on-premise BizTalk version will eventually be replaced by what Microsoft is building at the moment. The future Azure version of BizTalk (orchestration engine, connectors, BizTalk microservices, etc) will be deployed on-premise by means of the Azure Pack. By the way the product team indicated a preview will be released around the BizTalk summit in London on 13/14 April 2015.

Then the blog post from Sven van den Brande about this topic came by and that was the trigger to actively take a look at it. I started my 6 year old server to take the first step, install Windows Server 2012 R2.

There are quite some blog posts about installing the Azure Pack like:

  • http://blogs.technet.com/b/privatecloud/archive/2013/12/06/windows-azure-pack-installing-amp-configuring-series.aspx
  • http://blogs.msdn.com/b/nick_meader/archive/2014/07/31/building-a-self-service-private-cloud-using-windows-azure-pack.aspx

I took the ‘express route‘ to quickly install Azure Pack. This installation is meant for single server installs, where a typical Azure Pack production install requires multiple servers to host features you find in Azure like IIS for websites, SQL servers for databases, Active Directory servers for authentication and Hyper-V servers for VM’s.

Especially this blog post I found very helpful for guidance: https://www.helloitsliam.com/2014/11/21/windows-azure-pack-part-1/

I followed this blog post to install everything necessary to run Azure pack on a single server, using SQL Server 2014 Express edition. Installing the Azure pack via the Web Platform Installer is pretty simple. You can check all screenshots in the blog post, as it wouldn’t make sense to add them here again.

After installing and configuration you get this interface (after a bit of playing around), which is pretty familiar but also far behind in features compared to Microsoft Azure today.

Azure Pack

The documentation is dated October 17, 2013 and the Azure Pack feature installers are from October 21, 2014. Also for example the Windows Service Bus hasn’t been updated since October 2013.

So why would you install Azure Pack in a production environment at the moment, if it is so behind in features and it doesn’t get regular updates?

Asking the question is answering it. I think the private cloud is going to become very important as replacement for current Windows Server farms, but for now it is not an option. It is fun to play with but that’s about it. I wouldn’t advise a customer to use this in production.

It is my guess that Microsoft is putting no effort in the current Azure Pack anymore, but is building a new Azure Pack for Windows vNext Server, which is scheduled to be release in 2016, even after Windows 10 server. Or even better, Windows vNext Server will be build to support a private cloud. The timeline for this will be aligned with other Azure features like Servicebus, API Management and BizTalk micro services. Like with the new BizTalk developments, the private cloud will just be an instance of Microsoft Azure which results in feature parity between the two.

We have interesting times ahead!

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