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Microsoft unbuttons shirt, teases glimpse of Azure-in-a-box Stack

Tech preview due out this month

It's a bit late, but Microsoft will be releasing the first technical preview of Azure Stack – its cloud-in-a-box for those who prefer their data on-premises.

Azure Stack was announced at the Ignite conference in May. Now, Mike Neil, Microsoft's veep of enterprise cloud, has promised the first preview will be available for download from January 29. On February 3, Mark Russinovich, Azure's CTO, and Jeffrey Snover, chief architect of enterprise cloud, will also host a webcast on the new code.

"We have rich experiences and learnings building and operating hyper-scale datacenters," Neil said in a blog post.

"With Azure Stack, we're now doing the hard work of translating these learnings for on-premises environments so customers can benefit from speed and innovation of the cloud model without location constraints. Microsoft is the only company that can bring the full power of a true hybrid cloud platform to our customers."

Microsoft is pitching Azure Stack at large organizations and at service providers who want to expand up from the standard System Center, with or without Hyper-V. From a hardware perspective, Stack looks easily doable – all you'll need is a single server with a mere 96GB of RAM and 12 physical cores as a base spec.

In order to make life easier for its existing Azure cloud users, Microsoft is making sure there's a lot of crossover between it and Azure Stack, including keeping the same portal, unified application model, and common DevOps tools, with Visual Studio and PowerShell – of course.

"From a management API and app model perspective, it is a proper subset of the broad services available in Azure," said Al Hilwa, research director at International Data Corp.

"Prior offerings aimed at this space by Microsoft and others have not typically provided enough congruence between the on-premise world and the public cloud services it maps to. Azure Stack appears to move the bar significantly in this area because for the first time, Microsoft is providing an identical application model for both scenarios." ®

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