Use cases for an on-premises cloud platform

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6 March 2018

Microsoft’s on-premise Azure cloud platform, Azure Stack, has now been embedded in real-world, core business environments with early adopters validating business use cases that require secured and host environments. Here are some of the current uses of Azure Stack that are deployed in enterprises.

Healthcare organisations have been a prime candidate for Azure Stack as they fit the model of having large (extremely large!) sets of data and customers, and also face regulatory policies and protection aimed at securing the data being transacted. Azure Stack fits the mould of providing healthcare organisations the cloud-scale that they wish to achieve, in a protected, managed and secured environment.

Beyond simply providing cloud-scale operations of Azure on-premise, Azure Stack has also enabled healthcare providers to leverage Azure (public) for application development and the flexibility to host applications on the on-premises, secured environment. Public cloud provides a wonderful platform for application development, allowing an organisation to code, develop, test, rollback, retest and start all over on platform systems.

The organisation does not need to buy hardware for an application-development cycle and then sit on the investment for weeks or months until the next large development and redeployment cycle. Cloud provides an organisation the ability to burst during peak development times, then completely de-allocate all systems and configurations until resources are needed again.

Since the code development doesn’t have sensitive and protected patient data, the open development in a public cloud doesn’t compromise the organisation’s ability to develop in a shared cloud environment. Once the application is developed and tested, it can simply be moved to Azure Stack on-premise using the EXACT same system configuration states, settings, template builds and models ensuring that application dev/test validation will work on-premises as it did in Azure public-cloud test cycles.

Another core sector where Azure Stack has taken hold in with initial production deployments government. Both in the areas of international government entities as well as specific defence contact enterprises.

Microsoft has an isolated Azure instance for US government entities, but not for other governments around the globe.

Azure Stack has filled this need by providing protected Azure cloud services to international government entities, allowing them to take advantage of Azure resources both for open and publicly accessible resources, as well as for private content and resources managed by Azure Stack.

Additionally, in the US an initial group of defence-contract entities are leveraging Azure Stack for high-performance, tightly managed, and secured cloud-scale platform environments. These defence contractors are leveraging Azure (public) and Azure Stack (on-premises) just as healthcare organisations do.

There are a couple ways Azure Stack fulfils the needs of government entities. One is to leveraging cloud resources on an as-needed basis. Organisations can provision resources they require, and when they’re done, reallocate them to other workloads. The other scenario is handling workloads that need to be secured. Organisations can apply security policies and practices to workloads in Azure Stack that they may not be able to do easily in the public Azure Government cloud.

So Azure Stack meets government needs in two ways. One is fulfilling project-based scale-up to leverage public cloud resources on an as-needed basis, then having those resources drop off and be deallocated after the project is completed, minimising long-term costs of buying, maintaining, supporting or leasing equipment.

The other is to provide secure operations for key workloads that can retain a level of security to which organisations can apply age-old security policies and practices. Then they can utilise secured cloud instances in the Azure Government cloud.

Isolated environments
Some organisations do application development with users that do not have reliable internet connectivity. One such enterprise’s development team is in a part of the world where internet connectivity is spotty at best. The model has been to work on standalone systems using containers, where the containers can be ported across when internet connectivity is working, or the containers are saved to physical media that is shipped to a location where the code and content is needed.

The challenge for the organisation has been around the security of code development. With multiple standalone systems and with containers being moved around, the integrity of the code and leakage of intellectual property has been something the organisation has been unable to manage.

With Azure Stack, all users are connected within the walls of the remote site. All content being created remains isolated in the secured and encrypted Azure Stack environment. When content is created and needs to be ported, that can be accomplished via secured connections between Azure Stack (on-premises) and Azure (public).

These transfers are logged, tracked and tightly managed, providing the organisation a seamless way to move intellectual property around, yet retain integrity and security of the content being developed.

Azure Stackprovides real-world solutions to business cases that we anticipated would be important as the product was being developed two-and-a-half years ago and that now are available for use by enterprises and government entities around the world.



IDG News Service

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