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Microsoft Azure Stack Development Kit brings hybrid home

Microsoft's Azure Stack Development Kit is designed to help developers validate Azure Stack applications for hybrid deployments in different locations globally or even on premises.

WASHINGTON -- Microsoft has released its Azure Stack Development Kit, which features DevOps tooling and helps companies to validate their Azure Stack deployments.

Announced at the Microsoft Inspire partner conference, the ASDK is the newly renamed proof-of-concept deployment of Microsoft Azure Stack. It is a single-server development and test tool that enables users to prototype and validate hybrid applications, said Mark Jewett, senior director of product marketing for Microsoft's cloud platform.

Azure Stack Development Kit for validation

"The Azure Stack Development Kit is super for validation," Jewett told TechTarget in an interview at the Inspire conference. "You develop an application and the kit will let you test and make sure everything is OK for your data center deployment. You can look at the APIs you might need to integrate into your systems and then get the integrated systems into production."

Indeed, Rhett Dillingham, senior analyst for cloud services at Moor Insights & Strategy, said, "Microsoft has emphasized the Azure Stack Development Kit as a tool for building and validating applications for Azure Stack, but I expect the bigger initial benefit may be its allowing IT an easy way to trial the capabilities and enable development with a view of the user experience. The difficulty of getting to an initial trial experience has been a common pain point on other private cloud platforms."

Azure Stack is Microsoft's hybrid cloud offering, which enables organizations to extend Microsoft's Azure cloud technologies on premises.

Azure Stack popular on Azure Marketplace

Noting the popularity of Microsoft Azure Stack during its technical previews, Jewett said, "It feels like we've really tapped into a true need." He noted that certain vertical industries face hybrid requirements more strongly than others, such as regulated industries that require such an offering. Others who have a need for something like Azure Stack, he said, include global businesses that are very distributed, government organizations, manufacturing and more that have requirements for isolating their data or placing it in certain locations.

Demonstrating the popularity of Azure Stack, within days of the release of the ASDK, more than 60 of Microsoft's major partners chose to "click the box" and say they want their application or service that is available on Azure Marketplace to be available for Azure Stack.

Developer usage and consistency across deployments

Microsoft Azure Stack is useful for organizations doing edge processing and analytics that can address latency and connectivity by storing and processing data locally in Azure Stack and then aggregating data sets, analytics and machine learning in Azure, said Mike Neil, corporate vice president of Azure Infrastructure and Management at Microsoft, in a blog post.

Microsoft also has aimed Azure Stack at organizations moving their cloud application model on premises to apply cloud-native approaches such as PaaS, serverless computing, containers and microservices to their on-premises systems, Neil said.

It feels like we've really tapped into a true need.
Mark Jewettsenior director of product marketing, Microsoft's cloud platform

And Azure Stack enables users to deploy the same application to any location. Developers can build their applications with Azure services and deploy them on either Azure or Azure Stack depending on their business needs, regulations and policies, Jewett said. And they can choose which location to deploy the app, including on premises.

"Consistency enables you to build and deploy applications using the exact same approach -- same APIs, same DevOps tools, same portal -- leading to increased developer productivity," Neil said.

In its initial release, Azure Stack includes a core set of Azure services, DevOps tooling, and Azure Marketplace content, all of which are delivered through an integrated systems approach, Neil noted. Microsoft announced that customers can order integrated Azure Stack solutions from its hardware partners Dell EMC, HPE and Lenovo.

"Microsoft is addressing the DevOps culture through innovation, specifically by addressing next-generation architectures necessary to support CI/CD," said Charlotte Dunlap, principal analyst for application platforms at GlobalData. "Microsoft has determined Amazon won't win in DevOps innovations, for example, around its serverless computing initiative Lambda. In recent months Microsoft has been strengthening and prioritizing its own approach to serverless through Azure Functions and Logic Apps."

Azure Stack sets Microsoft apart from others

Moor Insights' Dillingham said with Azure Stack, Microsoft has delivered a unique extension of its public cloud into private infrastructure enabling a highly differentiating consistent hybrid cloud user experience.

"No other leading public cloud providers are set up to match the offer because they are depending on third-party platforms to deliver hybrid cloud; for example, AWS via VMware and Red Hat, and Google via Nutanix," he said. "Microsoft is using an appliance delivery model for Azure Stack to take control of ensuring that consistent hybrid cloud experience, so one of the top uncertainties to adoption and growth is in IT operations' comfort with the tradeoff of the configuration constraints of the appliance to get the consistent developer experience and simplified management."

Meanwhile, Microsoft partner Avanade announced a fully managed Azure Stack offering that can be deployed on premises at a customer's site, at remote locations or hosted in Avanade's data centers.

Avanade's offering will help enterprises "speed their journey to the cloud with a flexible, fully managed Azure-consistent solution where and when they need it. Organizations will be able to experience the benefits of the Microsoft cloud with the agility and control they need," said Rich Stern, executive of global market units and cloud at Avanade, in a statement.

Next Steps

Microsoft taking on all comers

Easing hybrid cloud deployments

Azure for containers, cloud services, etc.

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