Microsoft Server 2012 R2: the OS for the hybrid cloud
Windows Azure Pack makes the cloud management tools in Microsoft’s public cloud available to on-premise administrators and hosting providers.
This includes the excellent browser-based console for managing cloud infrastructure, both for administrators and tenants. Users can create virtual machines from a gallery of templates, install web sites, manage virtual networks, manage SQL Server or MySQL databases, and use the Service Bus for reliable messaging. Windows Azure Pack can be thought of as an optional add-on for System Center, which integrates with System Center Virtual Machine Manager and uses Orchestrator for automation.
Part of the thinking behind the Azure Pack is that the needs of a modern enterprise datacentre are not so different from those of a hosting provider. The key to efficiency is to automate everything, and self-service portals are good for users who can deploy, manage and scale applications with a minimum of fuss. Administrators have visibility into usage for internal accounting and control over resource allocation.
The Azure Pack is not identical to the public Azure tools, though Microsoft says that much code is shared.
Azure Pack is also a clever way for Microsoft to promote interest in its public cloud offering, since those who are familiar with a System Center deployment will find moving to public Azure an easy transition.