Heating up its cloud competition with Amazon and Google, Microsoft has launched a long-awaited platform for organizations that prefer not to use the public cloud.
Azure Stack offers the same management tools, straightforward provisioning, and usage-based licensing as the public Azure cloud, but can be run on a company’s own servers. At its Inspire conference, Microsoft announced Monday that partners like Dell EMC, HPE, and Lenovo will start shipping hardware that has been certified to run Azure Stack in September.
As Reuters reports, “Microsoft is hoping to carve a niche among customers who cannot or do not want to have to move all their computing operations to the massive shared data centers that are collectively known as the cloud.”
The company is the second-largest cloud player behind Amazon and also competes with Google. All three have been developing so-called hybrid solutions that allow enterprises to run workloads in a public cloud and in their own data centers.
“One of the key differentiations we have with Azure versus our two biggest competitors in the cloud platform space is our ability to support true hybrid solutions,” Judson Althoff, Microsoft’s executive vice president of worldwide commercial business, told Reuters.
Microsoft originally announced Azure Stack in 2015 with the intent of enabling organizations to build private Azure clouds on any suitable hardware and with an initial release date in 2016. A year ago, it switched to a 2017 release date and a delivery model using hardware from select partners.
According to HPE, its systems will start at $300,000 to 400,000 depending on configuration.
Mike Neil, Microsoft’s corporate vice president for Azure Infrastructure and Management, said Azure Stack is aimed at companies that want to remain in control of their data. Customers include Carnival Cruise Line, which is deploying Azure Stack to power many of the day-to-day operations of running a massive cruise ship.
“Many of [these companies] have their roots in their environment today — in their data centers or their hosting partners’ data centers,” Neil told TechCrunch. “We wanted to provide a solution that met these different needs.”