back to article Microsoft: Why we had to tie Azure Stack to boxen we picked for you

Microsoft has explained the rationale behind last month’s announcement that you won’t be allowed to simply download Azure Stack and get going. In July Redmond informed fans the only way they’d be able to get Azure in their own data centres would be on hardware of its choosing. Specifically, Azure Stack will only come pre- …

  1. TRT Silver badge

    Hmm...

    “Azure iterates very, very rapidly… new services merge all the time, existing services update rapidly and we need to have that approach workable in the customer data centre,” Tewari said.

    And that's a good, stable platform for their business users is it? Thoroughly tested and secure. Variability of hardware not good. It gives way to variability of software.

    I'm just trying to understand this statement, is all. It's setting my BS detector off, and I'm wary it might be a false positive.

    1. Dwarf Silver badge

      Re: Hmm...

      I'm with you on this one ..

      Where did all the industry standards for say networking, storage and server build standards suddenly go ? They have been rock solid for many years and evolve slowly over time.

      What happened to all the signed device drivers for Windows that are supposed to show that they have been tested to work properly ?

      And .. Do I really want a core platform that "Iterates very, very rapidly" - given that the business runs on top of that fast moving pile of tin ?

      Taken from the other side, if you want on-premise flexible infrastructure, why not just use traditional storage, network and server virtualisation. There's nothing wrong with VMWare for on-site infrastructure..

      1. P. Lee Silver badge

        Re: Hmm...

        >Where did all the industry standards for say networking, storage and server build standards suddenly go ?

        Indeed, this is why we have layers of software and swappable hardware components.

        What's wrong with with a published HCL? For everything else you're on your own.

        >Microsoft’s ability to restrict access to Windows among server and PC makers is what helped make Windows reliable, and thus successful, in the first place.

        Really? Of all the things contributing to MS' success, that wouldn't have been one I picked. Or did I miss the <sarc> tag?

    2. oldcoder

      Re: Hmm...

      "Thoroughly tested"??? Microsoft doesn't have a quality control section anymore.

      "Secure"?? This is Microsoft and Windows - not a chance.

      Besides setting off the BS detector, it should have also caused the audience laughter detector off.

      1. nematoad Silver badge

        Re: Hmm...

        "... is what helped make Windows reliable, and thus successful"

        I thank my lucky stars that this was not the case.

        The BSOD, driver problems, the fact that any ninny could be their own admin is what kept me in well paid employment for years

        Also don't confuse ubiquitous with popular.

        Oh, and lastly, a little bit of monopoly abuse was probably responsible for a lot of the "success" of Windows.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Hmm...

        "Thoroughly tested"??? Microsoft doesn't have a quality control section anymore.

        Yes they do, they've been outsourced to the end users...

  2. Dead Parrot

    Building a walled garden, one brick at a time.

    The question is, which side of the wall will people wind up on?

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Re: Building a walled garden, one brick at a time.

      There's mortar this than meets the eye.

    2. Teiwaz Silver badge

      Re: Building a walled garden, one brick at a time.

      Some sense to this, if it can guarantee hardware and software plays together, hasn't really done Apple any harm in the long run.

      The average consumer user (not gamers or those with hobbies that require specific programs), a laptop or desktop has become an irrelevance or an extra, it really depends on whether you are invested in the Microsoft platform as to whether you are walled in when the 'last few bricks get put in place', and since they've given up on Phones, there's little hope of ubiquity for the Windows platform in the mass consumer market.

      That leaves Businesses, they are well on track to mess that up eventually be degrading the user experience on Windows Pro. Basically that leaves Enterprise...

  3. Dwarf Silver badge
    Joke

    CEMENT

    Well, its not the first time they tried to CEMENT the Windows relationship

    CE - Compact Edition - This always made me WinCE

    ME - Millennium Edition

    NT - New Old Technology

  4. This post has been deleted by its author

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Microsoft has completely missed the point.

    Software defined data centres were originally created to eliminate vendor lock in, enabling seamless integration of hardware from multiple different OEMs. That's the number one point they drill into your head if you take any classes on OpenStack.

    The walled garden approach won't work here. Windows used to be the OS that you could install on almost anything, but now Linux holds that claim, which means Windows needs to differentiate itself by way of speed and usability improvements. That'll be difficult to accomplish if your server dies nearly every time you apply updates.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Well, we do need to keep our OEMs in business!

    COTS systems today are very standardized. They almost always derive from the same reference designs handed out by Intel, which include motherboard layout files and BIOS templates.

    Any argument by Microsoft that they need to match code to systems flies in the face of this. The only plausible rationale for their action is that allowing Azure to be installed on any COTS platform disadvantages the traditional OEMs.

  7. Zakhar

    Why on earth would you like Windows on a server?

    ... unless you are forced to have it for some obscure reason (.net application, etc...)

    Windows, as its name says, is meant to display things to the user and is focused on that. And it did it quite decently... up to Seven!

    A server, you want it focused on its server role, and CLI should be enough most of the time.

    For the server role, who in its rightful mind would like the venerable NTFS, so slow compared to ext4 or lacking features like checksumming, snapshots, you get with BTRFS, ZFS, etc...

    I still don't understand, although it is possible, what is the advantage of running an Linux VM on Azure... where you sit on top of NTFS, memory management a la Windows, etc... And that is not a Troll, if anyone could explain me the advantage compared to running on AWS or the likes on plain Linux hosts, please give me details!

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This control is a vendor necessity to control support costs. If you allow the public to install on any stack, they will crowdsource the identification of every incompatible config in existence, including many that don't meet whatever criteria you may have publicly declared in the first place (requirements that were never read, because people were just installing it anywhere and then lobbing the mess at your support staff). Your support budget will be exhausted by troubleshooting all manner of FrankenBoxen, and you'll still get bad reviews.

    1. Trixr Bronze badge

      Sorry, that's garbage. MS has had their Hardware Compatibility List for the various products forever, and if your config is not running on the approved hardware, it's unsupported. Ring up PSS about something not on the HCL, and they'll politely pss themselves laughing.

      If they had any brains, they'd make the HCL for the Azure stack super-restrictive, which would almost effectively cause vendor lock-in, but without making it look like they're trying to line their mates' pockets for no reason.

  9. xperroni
    Facepalm

    The other Microsoft

    "Microsoft’s ability to restrict access to Windows among server and PC makers is what helped make Windows reliable, and thus successful, in the first place."

    Isn't Microsoft the company that for most of its history sold boxed software you could just buy and install on whatever machine you owned, confident that drivers would either come bundled or be provided by hardware makers? You know, the one that eventually came to dominate the PC market riding a wave of bland OEM products?

    Well, maybe you're talking about another Microsoft, apart from the one I know – and likely founded by a Steve Jobs wannabe, by the look of things.

    1. Richard 12 Silver badge

      Re: The other Microsoft

      Indeed.

      I'm rather confused about this alternate history proposed by the article author.

      Because if Microsoft had done that, they would have vanished like Acorn, Commodore and all the other non-IBM-compatible PCs.

      Microsoft exist because of their support for the myriad of IBM-compatibles, and their dedication to backwards compatibility, making sure that almost everything from the last decade still runs fine on next year's hotness.

      This is blatant abuse of monopoly if it works, and killing the product if it doesn't.

      1. Joe Montana

        Re: The other Microsoft

        Microsoft existed because the hardware accounted for the vast majority of the cost, and the hardware it ran on was open and flexible. The software being closed and single-source was of little consequence because it was only a tiny fraction of the overall cost (and could always be obtained for free via piracy).

        Contrast that with acorn, commodore, apple and the various risc vendors who provided superior hardware and superior software often even at lower cost, but tied you into their whole platform with a single supplier and much smaller range of models and price points.

  10. John Geek
    FAIL

    let me edit this article a bit for you, its really too wordy.

    "Microsoft can’t guarantee Azure will work properly."

    there.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Beat me to the punch there

      Have an upvote !

  11. hoola

    Defined Hardware Vendor

    Maybe I have missed something here, but if you are wanting to run Azure Stack in your datacentre, then I would assume that it is already enterprise level. If this is the case the likelihood is that you will already by using servers from HP Dell or possibly Lenovo.

    Why would I be fussed about it not running on a generic pile of components cobbles together?

    Though to quote John Geek "let me edit this article a bit for you, its really too wordy.

    "Microsoft can’t guarantee Azure will work properly."" is much better......

  12. Chris Parsons

    Boxen

    The correct plural of 'box' is 'boxes'.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Boxen

      For Information :)

      A nonstandard plural of box formed by analogy with oxen. (See Middle English)

      Hence --> boxen --> plural of box ‎(“computer”)

      Also a joke form of word rather like the 'Embiggen' joke from 'The Simpsons.' as it is not in regular/formal use.

  13. Smartypantz

    Elimination of choice

    Has always been the cost of doing business with Microsoft

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Always the same !

    Don't pay much attention to Microsoft ... They are just lost. They don't exist in the mobile world. They don't exist in the Internet. They try desperately to be cool releasing half-cooked solutions but the problem is, developers are not retards.

    Microsoft, the world does not need a tablet with fans, or a bulky laptop with touch screen, or a server with the gargantuan Windows, solitaire, minesweeper, cortana and all, to be a webserver (looks like it also needs to be a Dell now).

  15. jonnycando

    Does Microsoft really try....

    to alienate customers....or is it just some ineptness on their part?

  16. Jeff 11

    Engineers presumably like to build and test things incrementally in smaller test environments, perhaps using commodity or obsolete hardware no longer in use, to ensure things work acceptably before buying the production-scale hardware (which if supported by MS, should have no problem running them). It seems bizarre that they could do that using something like OpenStack, but not Azure.

    The conspiracy theorist in me suspects that might just be because Azure is ever so slightly less solidly built than you'd expect from a cloud platform.

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