I have been talking a lot about Microsoft Azure, cloud services and hybrid connectivity over the last while. I thought I should step back for a moment and acknowledge that some people might not be ready for doing any sort of Hybrid environment as of yet and want to stay exclusively On-Premises. Organizations of all sizes have made substantial investments in their on-premises virtualization technologies and may not have taken the next step and made these technologies more “cloud like”. Have you started to think of your virtualization technologies as simply abstractions of “compute”, “storage” and “network” that allow you to run various “workloads”? What would you be able to do if you had an “Azure in a box” type service running in your own datacenter on your own hardware
If you haven’t thought about it – maybe you should.
As you know – I come from a long history of on-premises “Server Hugging” experiences over the years. I tended to specialize at the infrastructure and virtualization layer while dabbling in the management layer to control the services. System Center is the tool of choice to manage and monitor all sorts of aspects of your on-premises infrastructure – and once you have it implemented and tuned to your environment, it becomes your management and monitoring fabric looking after all the pieces. When I transitioned to focusing more on Microsoft Azure and other Cloud technologies, an “add on” solution was introduced – originally targeting System Providers. It was called the Windows Azure Pack (or WAP) and relied on components of SystemCenter to be in place in order to give two different experiences: an Administrative portal and a Customer portal.
Windows Azure Pack relies on a component in System Center called the Service Provider Foundation. It’s the coordinator and interface to communicate with all the SC components and interface with Virtual Machine Manager in order to manage, deploy and delete VMs. It can also get usage data from Operations Manager to monitor and meter usage for consumption.
To step back for a moment.
Think of your virtualization (private cloud) environment the same way large public cloud providers do by breaking down the resources into Compute, Storage and Networking. They become the backbone of what runs your IaaS and PaaS offerings that you provide to your internal clients. You use the skills you already have (or are developing) like management at scale, automation and scripting in order to manage and provision resources from your datacenter for your clients. With WAP – you are able to provide a web portal experience that can enable a controlled self service model… but it’s all in house. It’s like having “Azure in a box” – in your datacenter, on your hardware.
Windows Azure Pack has been evolving over the last while. If you are familiar with the “old” Azure interface, it should look pretty darn familiar. This interface can be themed / customized if you like and your environment can be managed via PowerShell cmdlets just like you can with Azure.
There are LOTS of resources out there to help you get started with Windows Azure Pack. But be forewarned: I’m not going to try to tell you that System Center and WAP are a “click-click-next-next” style install – there are a lot of moving parts to get everything working seamlessly. It’s something that you will want to explore and try out in a lab environment or online before going heads first into a full out implementation.
Here are some resources you can use as a jumping off point:
- Check out your own virtual sandbox of TechNet Virtual Labs
- Just search for Azure Pack to find 10 Hands On Labs
- An Amazing OneNote file has been created and maintained here for viewing
- Mitch Tulloch wrote up a 6 part series talking about WAP and how to manually deploy it: Deploying Windows Azure Pack (Part 1)
- If you want to take your installation to the next level of automation – you can also check out the latest version of the PowerShell Deployment Toolkit
This is a BIG task. I strongly recommend if this interests you to check out this 7 module online FREE COURSE on Microsoft Virtual Academy …