Under the hood: Azure Stack by CloudCreator

Revera technical specialist Jordan Williams turns the dials on PaaS and DBaaS capabilities newly-added to Azure Stack by CloudCreator

For readers who haven’t heard the news, Revera recently announced the introduction of App Service, including Functions, and SQL DBaaS to Azure Stack by CloudCreator.

Combined with foundation IaaS services and, more recently, native in-country backup for Azure VMs, Azure Stack by CloudCreator covers the bases for businesses looking to develop and launch cloud-native applications from a New Zealand-run cloud.

App Service, including Functions, and SQL DBaaS have been Azure public cloud staples for some time – so many readers will know what they offer. If you don’t, learn more by clicking on the hyperlinks in the previous sentence.

Same, same

Developers will be pleased to know that the user interface and experience are the same for both Azure public cloud and Azure Stack. So anyone familiar with Azure public cloud can get cracking with the same tools in Azure Stack. Everything looks and works the same.

Experienced developers wax lyrical about platform services, thanks to pre-configured infrastructure and operating systems that keep the focus on applications rather than the engine-room. However, company policy can sometimes keep public cloud services off limits. In other cases, latency issues are a turn off. Both problems disappear when platform services are delivered from a cloud that rises from New Zealand – think Azure Stack by CloudCreator.

App Service

App Service offers several categories of apps designed for specific workloads. Web apps are designed to host websites and web applications. API apps host RESTful APIs. And Azure Functions host event-driven serverless workloads.

App service plans scale to support increased application demands, and each app service supports a range of source control providers, including local Git, GitHub, BitBucket, OneDrive, and DropBox.

Functions

Functions is an excellent building block to integrate and automate separate applications. I completed an app testing tutorial to get a taste of automating a process running between Azure Stack and Microsoft’s AI platform, Cognitive Services. In this exercise the Function app watched a storage blob, and each time a batch of images was uploaded to the blob the app sent the images to Cognitive, where they were processed and analysed to ascertain the age and gender of people in each image. The app then wrote that data programmatically to a storage table in Azure Stack.      

I’m also using a Function app – written by cloud consultant and Microsoft MVP Mark Scholman – to monitor Azure Stack updates. Automation takes a load off our engineers, who are no longer required to log in and check the status of Azure Stack updates. Instead, the app polls the Azure Stack update every five minutes and posts the status to an online SMS engine. Engineers receive a text message confirming status – either completed, failed, or needs attention. The app is a Microsoft MVP shared design, so I was able to take the original design and deploy our own version in less than an hour.

DBaaS

With SQL Database, clients can stand up a Microsoft SQL 2016 ‘always on’ database in minutes, without having to manage virtual machines, or SQL Server. Users simply click on the service tile – and boom – there’s the platform to run your SQL database and streams to connect to your applications.

Feet in both camps

Much of the cloud narrative pits public against private. Azure Stack makes a strong case for both. For example, during a small scale DR exercise to demonstrate a speedy recovery point, I ran a VM Scale Set in Azure Stack and kept another Scale Set ‘powered down’ in Azure public cloud, continuously monitoring both sets. A clever piece of automation fired up the VM Scale Set in Azure public cloud the moment I depowered the VMs in Azure Stack. The process didn’t miss a beat, highlighting great possibilities for DR.

Contact the team to explore possibilities in Azure and Azure Stack by CloudCreator.

Email azurestack@cloudcreator.co.nz  

date_range 19 February 2019