What’s the news: Azure Stack – announced a little more than two years ago is Microsoft’s on premise version of Azure (with some reduced / missing capabilities to the cloud version). Originally slated to run on Microsoft hardware and available last summer, the product suite is now available for partners to certify. And partners (the usual suspects) are in line to certifiy their hardware asap.

Why it matters: Despite the trend to cloud there are still many enterprises that have to operate enterprise automation on premises. Look at the number of SAP customers opting to run S/4HANA on premises. Microsoft now offers a path for them to run Azure similar / identical products – and build and move applications and load to an Azure like on premises stack – with the option to move it later. And there are plenty of motivated hardware vendors that want to sell more servers to customers for their local data centers (Cisco, Dell, HP etc etc.)
The intro slide of Azure Stack from Build 2015

MyPOV: Good to see more on-premise options coming, a key move for Microsoft to help customers stay on Microsoft and get future proof. How well the partner approach will work for this – remains to be seen. But Microsoft has a successful track decade spanning record to partner with hardware vendors. The partner approach differs from Oracle – that provides all themselves, but as well with the on premises vs cloud choice. With enterprises getting same / similar options from trusted vendors (don’t forget IBM here, too) – they will look at these offerings more seriously.

CxO Advice: If you are a Microsoft shop with on premises requirements (data privacy, residency, performance, data center availability, legacy loads) this a key announcement. It’s must prototype and pilot territory. Don’t wait for your favorite hardware vendor for this, they will all come along in a few months, when a positive pilot leads to a production decision. Azure stack as a pilot on any test can have the bonus as a lock-in avoidance as well as a commercial argument. In general CIOs and CTOs need to see that not all loads must go to the cloud, but we still recommend the cloud from an innovation speed and elasticity for most enterprise scenarios.