Microsoft's Azure Stack beta gets new services and DevOps tools

The updates come less than two weeks after Azure Stack's first beta was released to the public

People testing out the public beta of Microsoft's Azure Stack private cloud system have some new platform services and DevOps tools to play with less than two weeks after it initially launched. 

Starting Monday, users can download a beta version of the Web Apps feature for Azure App Service that runs on Azure Stack and makes it easier for people to build websites on top of it. Users can also install new beta tools for running MySQL and SQL Server workloads on Azure Stack. The system already has built-in tools for running things like virtual machines.

The purpose of Azure Stack is to let engineers use the same skills they've developed working on the public version of Azure when they're working on an private cloud, and vice versa. These added tools are key parts of that promise.

The Azure Stack team said the new features are meant as early betas of the eventual shipping version of the software, added with the explicit purpose of soliciting feedback from users. In other words, users should expect the functionality to change somewhat before Azure Stack's launch. 

In addition, Microsoft updated the Azure software development kit, so engineers can now use PowerShell and a cross-platform command-line utility to execute commands in an Azure Stack environment in addition to Microsoft's public cloud. Microsoft's Visual Studio development environment also got a new feature that lets users deploy applications directly to Azure Stack, just as they can to any other account or region in the Azure public cloud.

The first preview of Azure Stack was released in late January and lets users turn a pretty beefy single server into a proof-of-concept environment for testing. Microsoft plans to fully release Azure Stack later this year. When it comes out, businesses will be able to operate their own on-premises Azure environment and deploy applications on that in addition to the Azure public cloud. 

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Blair Hanley Frank

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