Microsoft Azure Pack 2013 can be considered a version 2 of Microsoft’s on premise cloud services. Its predecessor, Windows Azure Services for Windows Server, was offered for free with System Center 2012 SP1 and required Windows Server 2012 and Hyper-V as a platform. WAS4WS can be considered as a typical V1 and offered a first look on how Windows Azure like services can also be offered as a hosted or private cloud. Windows Azure Pack 2013 has been available now for only 6 months, but we can’t imagine it not being available to us. The Windows Azure Pack has had a huge impact on the world of Microsoft cloud services and WAP is here to stay. It not only offers first class IaaS services like the VM Role but also PaaS services with Web Sites and Databases. WAP also offers the platform for new Automation capabilities called SMA or Service Management Automation, which will soon fully replace Orchestrator. Learning PowerShell Workflows has never been more important since the release of SMA.
Windows Azure Pack so far has proven to be a fairly solid product and this can be explained because the Service Management API and the portal software is identical to the public Windows Azure. If you compare the Windows Azure Pack portal to the Windows Azure portal, you can clearly see the advancements that public Windows Azure has made and some of the new functionality that it has acquired.
WAP currently offers Web Site Clouds, VM Clouds, Service Bus Clouds, SQL Servers, MySQL Servers, Automation, Plans and User Accounts.
Windows Azure offers many other services such as Mobile Services, Storage, HDInsight, Media Services, Visual Studio Online, Cache, Biztalk Services, Recovery Services, Traffic Manager, Management Services, Active Directory, Add-Ons and Settings.
For a list of recently added features visit Scott Guthrie’s blog.
In general we could say that both platforms share a common Service Management API and some of the services are identical such as Web Sites and Service Bus. Others rely specifically on features in Virtual Machine Manager and some are only possible because of possibilities/limitations in the operating system. Windows Azure is currenlty still built on Windows Server 2012 and does not support VHDX disks and Console Connect functionality which are both possible in Windows Azure Pack. On the other hand Windows Azure VMs allows adding new disks online, whereas Windows Azure Pack requires the VM to be turned off for adding or expanding a VHDX. This is not a limitation of Windows Server 2012 R2.
Unlike Windows Azure, Windows Azure Pack heavily relies on System Center 2012 R2 and specifically Virtual Machine Manager and Service Provider Foundation. If Usage is added, also Operations Manager is also a required component.
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