Now that Microsoft Azure Stack is available as a technical preview, prospective users also have an initial set of tools and services to use with it.
As announced on the official Azure blog, Microsoft is offering four new components:
- Web Apps for Azure App Service: A local incarnation of Azure Web Apps, which allows apps written in .Net, Java, PHP, Node.js, and Python to be deployed with autoscaling and load balancing, all managed with a convenient Web interface. The full feature set isn't available yet, as this offering is to help those planning to deploy Azure Web Apps on Azure Stack get used to how things work. Also be warned that "there is no support for the App Service preview releases," as Microsoft notes, and "no upgrade between Azure Stack App Service preview releases."
- Microsoft SQL Server and MySQL database resource providers for the Web Apps data tier.
- An updated Azure SDK with PowerShell support, plus cross-platform CLI support for Windows, Mac, and Linux.
- Azure Stack GitHub templates: A collection of quick-start templates for Azure Resource Manager, each covering a single, simple mission -- such as create a Network Security Group, set up a simple Windows virtual machine with diagnostics enabled, and so on.
- Native Visual Studio support for Azure Stack: Apps developed in Visual Studio can be deployed to Azure Stack as if it were another Azure subscription resource.
When originally announced, Azure Stack was meant to do more than become part of Microsoft's hybrid cloud strategy. It was supposed to serve as an app deployment and management framework that complements modern microservices architecture designs.
It makes sense that the first Azure Stack tools are related to applications and app dev. Still, it'll be a while before we see Azure Stack-specific tools that work with Microsoft's integration of Docker, easily the most strategically important tool for that new stack across all platforms. The big holdup is proper integration of Docker with the next edition of Windows Server. (Microsoft has promised that the final shipping version of Azure Stack will be based on that product.)
Microsoft is already soliciting feedback for improvements as testers start to get their hands dirty with the first technical preview.